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World War I and World War II

The time between World War I and World War II was defined by uneasiness about the social and political future of the United States, as well as, around the world. This was also a time when many writers took it upon themselves to write more humanizing stories that focused on the significance of the everyday man and his or her experience while facing the challenges of a failing economy or wartime situations. Two writers, well known for their ability to delve and indulge the human need for closure were William Faulkner and Katherine Anne Porter.

Each of these writers offers us an unsettling snapshot of life using subtle details as a means to justify the fears and impotency that many Americans felt between each of the World Wars. In her short story, The Jilting of Granny Weatherall, Katherine Anne Porter allows the reader to get inside the head of an eighty-year-old woman who appears senile but instead is afflicted with the need for closure. Porter allows us to assume many aspects about her character, Granny Weatherall, through context clues to help us understand the suffering and triumph of the early twentieth century woman.

To a modern reader many of these clues need to be translated or explained but to the audience of the early twentieth century, Granny Weatherall represented the resilience and work ethic of her time. Granny states in the story: she had fenced in a hundred acres once, digging post holes herself and clamping the wires with just a negro boy to help. In the sentence that follows, Porter writes: that changed a woman. (Littell ppp. 341-357) In many ways, the change Porter speaks to is portrayed through Granny Weatherall’s need to prove to the world that her jilting was not the end of her in a time when such an act would ruin a woman’s prospects.

Lastly, another writer, William Faulkner, describes the need for closure through the eyes of a young boy named Lennie in his short story, Barn Burning. We are introduced through Lennie in the shadowy presence of his unforgiving father, Abner. Lennie is frustrated with the injustice imposed upon him by his father’s barn burnings. We experience the need for justice at any cost, even the sacrifice of love and life, through the internal and external struggles Lennie faces when decided whether or not to get his father caught in the act of arson. (Faulkner pp.

3-26) Like many families, Lennie’s, is living a shadow of existence following the Civil War. Faulkner uses this to express the need for closure even when the result may be someone losing his or her life. Sometimes we must do what is right. This attitude clearly reflected the social responsibilities many Americans felt during the interim between the first and second World War. Works Cited Faulkner, William. Collected Stories of William Faulkner. Vintage Book Edition. New York City,NY: Random House,Inc. , 1977. pp. 3-26. Print. Littell, McDougal. The Interactive Reader Plus. New York City,NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. ppp. 341-357. Print.

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