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Comparing and Contrast of 19th Century Writers

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Essay title: Comparing and Contrast of 19th Century Writers

Mirroring the lives, experiences, and traditions of society in different eras of American history; Bernard Malamud, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin, chronicle the impressions, perspectives, and dramatizations, of three men living in three different worlds but all trying to maintain their struggles with-in. All three authors use similar methods of writing to capture the true veracity of living in America. With the use of personal conflicts with-in themselves, imagery, and finally narration and tone, Baldwin, Ellison, and Updike, captured the quintessence of living in America during their respected eras.

With all three authors using personal and cultural conflicts in their stories the reader is able to fully comprehend with great clarity what the main characters are going through throughout the story. In the “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison for instance, the main character is never asked for his participation or acknowledged for his individualism. He plays the part of the tool or the pawn so many times that he is driven to bump strangers on the street, as in the case of the blond man, simply in order to recognize his own existence in their eyes. Yet they still don’t see him. “It occurred to me that the man had not seen me, actually; that he as far as he knew he was in the midst of a walking nightmare!” (2077.) He finally recognizes his ability to exist outside of the scientifically categorized world he lives within; the narrator thus avoids classification because he exists between it and outside of it. “I remember that I am invisible and walk softly so I don’t awaken the sleeping ones…I learned that it is possible to carry on a fight with them without their realizing it” (2078.) In “Going to Meet the Man”, James Baldwin illustrates personality conflict by illustrating two complex sides of a small southern police officer who by the end of the story, realized that he did not hate the blacks, he hated himself and his personal reflection of his inadequacies as a man. Raised to believe that the white race was superior Richard spent most of his adult life using black woman to heighten his own self doubt by believing that because of his race and position he was superior to the minority woman he sexually abused. “You’re lucky we pump some white blood into you every once in awhile- you’re woman!” (2194.) “This was his wife. He could not ask her to do just a little thing for his just to help him out…the way he could ask a n****r girl to do it” (2191.) In the end of the story Richard’s flashback of a town lynching left little memory except of Richard’s new found jealousy of the man’s manhood. “The largest thing he had ever seen till then” (2201.) left Richard self conscious of his own sexual prominence and made him want to be a black man; strong, confident, reputable. The thought of becoming a black man in his own right excited him and gave him the energy (and means) to fulfill his desires. “He thought of the man in the fire... and he said to her “Come on sugar, I’m going to do you like a n****r, just like a n****r… and you are going to love me like you’d love a n****r”..he thought of the moaning as he labored” (2202.) Unlike the other two stories however,” The Magic Barrel” written by Bernard Malamud based itself on cultural value and character issues to develop the storyline. After spending six years of his life in study for ordination, Leo Finkle a sheltered and passionless man felt that it might be easier to find employment as a married man decided to utilize the ancient art of matchmaking for his quest for a wife. “(Leo) had been advised by an acquaintance that he might find it easier to win over a congregation if he were married …the function of a marriage broker was ancient and honorable, highly approved in the Jewish community. (2053.) The problem was Leo is found to be caught between finding a wife that was acceptable to his peers or finding a wife that me would marry out of love. “I now admit the necessity of premarital love. That is, I want to be in love with the one I marry” (2060.) In the end Leo disregard the cultural ideals of a companion and followed his heart to the one woman he could not live without “She is a wild one-wild without shame; this is not the bride for a Rabbi” (2063.) Finkle’s only reply, “Love has come into my heart” (2063.) Finkle found everything that he was looking for.

Narration and voice

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