The Politics of the Feminist Novel

By Judi M. Roller | Go to book overview

4
The Endings

The terrors of the twentieth century, its chaos, its fragmentation, and its ever-increasing dehumanization, are reflected as an aura of hopelessness in its novels. The twentieth-century political novel, in particular, is becoming increasingly more despairing as the century moves on. 1 Even the most hopeful of such novels can cling only to a small fragment of resistance or meaning for a possibility of salvation. The endings to these novels underscore this general tone of desperation. In the twentieth-century novel ending in escape, for example, there is no deliverance. The twentieth-century escape is one resulting from desperation and hopelessness. Escape is not an act of hope, optimism, and self-reliance as it often was in the nineteenth- century novel. 2 One can look, for example, at Huck Finn, Thoreau , and Theron Ware in The Damnation of Theron Ware and see successful escapes. They are not all equally optimistic, of course. Thoreau's escape to Walden Pond and Theron Ware's escape from an ugly way of living and being are relatively total. Huck's is much more ambiguous. When his flight is compared with the mutilated and futile attempts made by Bigger Thomas in Native Son, by the Joads in Grapes of Wrath, and by Frederick Henry in A Farewell to Arms, however, it appears favorable and promising. 3

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The Politics of the Feminist Novel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Women's Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - The Awakening 3
  • Notes 28
  • 2 - Authority and Autobiography 33
  • Notes 62
  • 3 - Fragmentation Versus Unity: The Shattered Novel 67
  • Notes 96
  • 4 - The Endings 101
  • Notes 132
  • 5 - Portrayals of Slavery and Freedom 137
  • Notes 175
  • 6 - Conclusion 181
  • Notes 187
  • Appendix - Critical Literature on the Political Novel 189
  • Notes 193
  • Bibliography 195
  • Index 203
  • About the Author 206
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