Attendance and announcements
Three corners activity
Power point lecture/presentation on Realism
Two pages of Cornell notes and graphic organizer
Guided notes/Think, pair, share
Exit activity – Evaluation question/debrief
Homework- Complete your Cornell notes and graphic
Common Core Standards
 Reading Standards (RL): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9
 Writing Standards (W): 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f, 4, 7, 9, 10
 Speaking and Listening Standards (SL): 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d,
2, 3, 5
 Language Standards (L): 1a, 1b, 2, 3, 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 5a,
5b, 6
Outcomes of the lesson
 Timeline overview of American Literary Movements
 Emphasis on Realism, beginning with the
philosophic, historic and economic context.
 Literary Characteristics of Realism: Writing style,
major themes, methods of interpretation and
author’s intent of Realism works
 Notable writers of the Realism era and their works
 Introduce Mark Twain
 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – major themes
and analysis
Three-Corners Activity
 Essential question:
To what degree does society shape who you are?
 Think about this question for one minute, and then move to
corner of the room that best expresses your personal
 Individualism. “Be yourself no matter what anyone says.”
 Adaption. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
 Conformity. “Tradition is a guide, not a jailer.”
Once you are in your group, work together to develop a justification
statement, with personal evidence, on why this philosophy holds true
(two minutes). Select a spokesperson to share aloud.
Prior Knowledge Inquiry
Realism followed the Romantic and
Transcendental eras of literature.
Education and Literacy had become a
major progressive reforms and this led
to an increasing demand for literary
work relevant to the working class.
Knowing this, what themes do think
were pronounced in realist literature?
How do you think literature for the
commoner might differ from the
literature written for the elite?
Point of View Inquiry
Of his literary masterpiece, The Adventures
of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain described
his novel as a conflict where, “a sound
heart and a deformed conscience come into
collision and conscience suffers defeat.”
Realism was a literary movement grounded in human experience.
Innate moral reasoning clashes with the banked and hegemonic
ideological “truth” to construct meaning and perception of real life. One
complex theme of realism – the double consciousness – was widely applied
by writers and artists of the era. Knowing that Twain, and other realist
thinkers developed and intensified the tension between societal norms
and a person’s instinctual moral reasoning, how do you think the
concept of double consciousness might be defined?
Think, pair, share
 Knowing that Twain, and
other realist thinkers
developed and intensified
the tension between
societal norms and a
person’s instinctual moral
reasoning, how do you
think the concept of
double consciousness
might be defined?
Literary Movements
Age of
Puritan Era
and PostModernism
1600 - 1750 1750 - 1800 1800 - 1840 1840 - 1855 1865 1915
1916 - 1946
1946 Present
American Literature Timeline
Transcendental Era
Realism in American Literature
circa 1860-1910
American Realism Timeline
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (18601935) The Yellow Wallpaper
Willa Cather (18731947) My Antonia
Upton Sinclair (18781968) The Jungle
Mark Twain
(1835-1910) The
Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn
Stephen Crane (1871-1910)The Red
Badge of Courage
Henry James (18431916) Portrait of a
John Steinbeck
(1902-1968) Of
Mice and Men
Frederick Douglass (18181895) Narrative of the Life of
Frederick Douglass, an
American Slave
William Dean Howells
(1837-1920) The Rise of
Silas Lapham
Kate Chopin
(1850-1904) The
Edith Wharton (18621937)The Age of Innocence
Jack London
(1876-1916) White
Introduction to American Realism
American Realism Resources
in Literature
The literary movement, Realism was a reaction against Romanticism and
Transcendentalism. Realism was given philosophical ground through
German Idealism, American pragmatism, economic theories and
further, it was assigned social obligations by the progressive
movements. While the Romantics and Transcendentalists may have, at
times, tried to escape the elements and conditions of space and time for
a positive idealism, the Realists stared factual circumstances in the face,
investigating and documenting them so that honest voices could be
heard, and problems could be addressed and resolved.
Historic/Economic Context of American Realism
 Industrial
Revolution/Gilded Age
 Redistribution of wealth
 Captains of Industry/Robber
 Social Darwinism/Laissez
Faire economics
 Rise of the working/middle
 Socialism/Communism/
 Political Machines
 Unions
Major Historical Events
 1861-1865 American Civil War
 1862 Homestead Act/Unions
 1862 - 1863 Emancipation
 1863 - 1870 Reconstruction of the
 1860 - 1990 Railroad development
 1879 – Thomas Edison invents the
first light bulb
 1905 – Sherman Anti-Trust Act
 1860 – 1910 numerous progressive
Progressive social reforms
Immigration/Competitive labor
Slave trade/Emancipation/
Education and literacy/literate
working class/unions/worker’s
Printing press and availability of
books/widespread literacy
Child labor/foundlings
Food and Drug Administration –
Public Health
Environmental conservation
Think, pair, share
 If you were to write a Realist novel in
and about the early 20th century, which
social problem would you have chosen
to address? Do you have ethos with
this subject?
 Explain why you would have chosen
this topic and explain how you would
have angled your work for a moral
resolve and solution.
The Conscience and
Consciousness of
“What’s the use of you learning to do right,
when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t
no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is
just the same? I was stuck. I couldn’t
answer that. So I reckoned I wouldn’t
bother no more about it, but after this
always do whichever come handiest at the
~Huckleberry Finn
 Christianity was seen as both institutional and hierarchical/divine
ordering of authority vs. Social Justice and Social Gospel
applications of Christian values developing community.
 The life of the mind, Moral development, double-consciousness,
cognitive dissonance are primary themes in literature.
 Essential question: What role does society play in shaping who we
Primary Literary Characteristics of Realism
 Marriage between investigative journalism and literature – journalistic muckraking
investigations were applied to the novel to expose a social problems.
 Renders reality closely and in comprehensive detail. Selective presentation of reality
with an emphasis on verisimilitude.
 Character is more important than action and plot; complex ethical choices are often
the subject.
 Characters appear in their real complexity of temperament and motive; they are in
explicable relation to nature, to each other, to their social class, to their own past.
 Class is important; the novel has traditionally served the interests and aspirations of
an insurgent middle class. (See Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel)
 Events will usually be plausible. Realistic novels avoid the sensational, dramatic
 Diction is natural vernacular, not heightened or poetic; tone may be comic, satiric, or
 Objectivity in presentation becomes increasingly important: overt authorial
comments or intrusions diminish as the century progresses.
 Internal thoughts or psychological realism is a variant form.
 In Black and White Strangers, Kenneth Warren suggests that a basic difference
between realism and sentimentalism is that in realism, “the redemption of the
individual lay within the social world,” but in sentimental fiction, “the redemption
of the social world lay with the individual” (75-76).
(from Richard Chase, The American Novel and Its Tradition)
Literary Characteristics of
Realism – Character
 Emphasis on the development of consciousness of the character over events and
 Strength in characters and subject matter (development of consciousness about
the themes) over the course of the plotline
 Characters were complex (rather than good or bad, hero or villain of myth, they
mediated and reasoned in between)
 Character development is often internalized, it is a psychological process
 Psychological Motivations, interests, desires, fears
 Moral development – changes in mood, perception, consciousness, opinions and
ideas constitute the turning points and climaxes, rather than events in the plot
 Realism did not follow the arch of events of traditional models, rather they tried
to emulate life patterns, and psychological development, where the “life of the
mind” collided with the external circumstance, and the characters had to discern
a truth or make-making about their experience.
 These techniques made realist more like life, never completely knowable,
always changing
Literary Characteristics – Style and Construction
 Often apply frame narratives, or story inside a story, and they are told by an unreliable
narrator to be more honest about the way human experience life.
“You don’t know about me, without you have read a book by the name of “The Adventures of Tom
Sawyer,” but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth
mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. This is nothing. I never
see anybody but lied, one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary.
Aunt Polly – Tom’s Aunt Polly, she is – and Mary, and the Widow Douglas, is all told about in that
book – which is mostly a true book; with some stretchers,” as I said before” (3).
 No omniscient narrator, rather an unreliable narrator who may not have all the
information or show bias, perceptions are colored by their beliefs, and have their own
flaws and internal conflict
 Attention to minute details; effort to capture the true essence of reality without judgment
 Presence in time and in the moment; carefully constructed spaces, voices and
 Objectivity and fidelity to the facts of the matter, rather than emotional responses
Added notes
 Realist writers, unlike the Transcendentalists (New England), came from all over the
 Realist writers that focused only on the peasantry and expendables were called
 Faithful representations of reality – verisimilitude
 Representation of middle class life, or the lower classes
 Realism has been called a “strategy for imagining and managing the threats of social
 Replicate natural speech phonetically – the vernacular speech patterns and local
vocabulary were applied considering how they sound to the imagination
 Focused on middle and lower class characters, rather than the elite
 Double-consciousness, cognitive dissonance, playing double, moral development
Think, pair, share
 Select two or three of the
literary characteristics of
Realism and explain how
they assign and support a
moral and social imperative
in Realist writing.
 Read through the following quotes carefully and
select one to write about for the following activity.
Quotes from/about some characters of American Realism
 “He became quicker of movement than the other dogs, swifter of
foot, craftier, deadlier, more lithe, more lean with iron like muscle
and sinew, more enduring, more cruel more ferocious, and more
intelligent. He had to become all these things, else he would not
have held his own nor survived the hostile environment in which
he found himself.”
― Jack London, White Fang
 “Its time we woke up,” pursued Gerald, still inwardly urged to
unfamiliar speech. “Women are pretty much people, seems to me.
I know they dress like fools - but who’s to blame for that? We
invent all those idiotic hats of theirs, and design their crazy
fashions, and what’s more, if a woman is courageous enough to
wear common-sense clothes - and shoes - which of us wants to
dance with her?”
― Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper
“It was all so very businesslike that one watched it fascinated. It was porkmaking by machinery, pork-making by applied mathematics. And yet somehow
the most matter-of-fact person could not help thinking of the hogs; they were so
innocent, they came so very trustingly; and they were so very human in their
protests - and so perfectly within their rights! They had done nothing to deserve
it; and it was adding insult to injury, as the thing was done here, swinging
them up in this cold-blooded, impersonal way, without pretense at apology,
without the homage of a tear. ”
― Upton Sinclair, The Jungle
“A man with a full stomach and the respect of his fellows had no business to
scold about anything that he might think to be wrong in the ways of the
universe, or even with the ways of society. Let the unfortunates rail; the others
may play marbles.”
― Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
“Women ought to be free - as free as we are,' he declared, making a discovery of
which he was too irritated to measure the terrific consequences.”
― Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
Think, pair, share
 Choose one quote for this activity from one of these Realist
 Distinguish how the passage demonstrates the social conditions
and environment within the personality and thinking of the
 Do his/her circumstances result from social constructions or
from their own free will? Explain.
 How does the personality of the character/narrator reveal
traces of nature over nurture, vice versa or both? Explain your
Mark Twain
S. Clemens
at age 15
(left) and
Twain with
his family
Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne
Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21,
1910) in Florida, Missouri to Jane Lampton
and John Marshall Clemens. Samuel was the
sixth of seven children, however only three
of the seven children survived to adulthood.
When Samuel was four, the Clemens family
moved to Hannibal, Missouri a port town on
the Mississippi, which would provide the
setting for both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry
Finn. Missouri was a slave state, and from a
young age, Samuel became acquainted with
the institution of slavery and the language
applied to justify it, which he explored and
exposed in his writing. When his father
passed away at age eleven (his father was an
attorney and a judge), the young Samuel
Clemens went to work to help support his
family. He worked as a printing press
assistant/typesetter and journalist, and a
steam boat pilot. Young Samuel Clemens
was autodidactic, or self-educated. He went
to the libraries every evening and read from
a wide variety of sources.
The Author of
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,
Mark Twain
Think, pair, share
 Write three memorable facts about Mark Twain that inspired
and informed his written work.
 How was Mark Twain shaped by society? How does this social
influence resonate in his writing? How did he understand and
respond to the stimulation of his environment? Was Twain’s
interpretation of his environment good, bad or both? Explain.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Themes and Analysis:
Plot Summary and Characters:
Evaluation Question
“It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn't try to quit
being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn't
come. Why wouldn't they? It warn't no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from ME,
neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn't come. It was because my heart warn't right;
it was because I warn't square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting ON to
give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to
make my mouth SAY I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to
that n----’s owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He
knowed it. You can't pray a lie--I found that out.”
― Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
This passage from Huckleberry Finn reveals Huck’s inner tension as
he navigates (mediates) between the moral terrain of social norms,
expectations and laws decreed by society, and what he instinctually
senses to be true about the human condition. Huck states that he
was “playing double.” Evaluate how the development of Huck’s
internal consciousness pushes the external events of story
forward, or how external conditions influence Huck’s evolving
thinking and being.

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