Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Realism Project- "Spoon River Anthology"

From "Spoon River Anthology," written by Edgar L. Masters, "Fiddler Jones" and "Lucinda Matlock" are two wonderfully written excerpts that both portray Realism. In "Fiddler Jones," Masters describes the journey of life and how one should do what he or she, in their heart, is meant to do ("Fiddler" 517). "And if they people find you can fiddle, Why, fiddle you must, for all your life" ("Fiddler" 517). He writes about how, if a job is to be done, one must allow unexpected interruptions to occur and have fun with them; the job will get done in the end. Fiddler exclaims that although it may have taken him longer to do certain tasks, and they might have been some hard times and bumps in the road, he accomplished all he had set out to do with no regrets("Fiddler" 517). "Lucinda Matlock" is similar to this poem. In "Lucinda Matlock," Masters simply and briefly runs through a lifetime ("Lucinda" 516). He writes of experiences that just sort of happen, like meeting a wife, falling in love, having children, and death. The way he states these events is kind of melancholy; it is almost depressing in a way. However, at the end of the poem, he states that he leaves this earth happily and that he has loved his life ("Lucinda" 516).

Both of these excerpts are interesting examples of Realism. They are not necessarily the norm; they are not very descriptive of a real life situation, nor are they about the realization of life's realistic natures (Diamond). Instead, Masters writes his true feelings, and the bluntness and honesty of his writings allow others to understand what he was going through, find the "realisticness" within the passages, and relate them to their own lives. For example, in "Lucinda Matlock," Masters really does just simply run through the life of an average person ("Lucinda" 516). Many could relate to going to a dance, meeting different people, and then just happening to find your wife such as he writes about ("Lucinda" 516). It happens; it is realistic. He also writes about child bearing: although they had twelve children, eight of them died ("Lucinda" 516). While this is incredibly awful and sad, and many might feel as though they cannot relate because of the simple unemotional way it was written, it, too, is a realistic part of life and therefore is a trait of Realism (Diamond). Throughout both of his poems, Masters refers to love and loving one's life. While one might think this is emotional and therefore does not refer to Realism, Masters actually describes love as more of just an overall happiness; it does not need to be romantic, just simple. The fact that he explains himself by creating analogies, such as with the crops, allows people to feel that love and happiness is realistic as opposed to strictly emotional and romantic ("Fiddler" 517). Another note that one might realize is, although he talks about love and death, God is not mentioned, which might insinuate the culture of that time period in which God is not necessarily present in all of these events. Realism often depicts a world in which God is not the main focus (Diamond). Therefore, these traits together prove that these excerpts from "Spoon River Anthology" do indeed represent Realism.


Diamond, Marie Josephine, ed. "realism." Encyclopedia of World Writers, 19th and 20th Centuries. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2003. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= GEWW480&SingleRecord=True (accessed January 28, 2011).

Masters, Edgar L. “Fiddler Jones.” American Literature. Comp. Jeffery D. Wilhelm. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009. 517. Print.

Masters, Edgar L. “Lucinda Matlock.” American Literature. Comp. Jeffery D. Wilhelm. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009. 516. Print.

"Meet Edgar Lee Masters." American Literature. Comp. Jeffery D. Wilhelm. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009. 514. Print.

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