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date: 11 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses how Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, and Jack London addressed the issue of race. All three naturalists treated the theme of the racial “Other” as a criminal in works of short fiction, but adopted differing modes to convey their attitudes: Norris chose the narrative of descent; Crane, the fable; London, satire. As naturalist “muckrakers,” they shared a sense of wanting to explore racism as an important social problem in their time, particularly in the aftermath of the Civil War, but if they shared similar concerns, they did not share the same goals. Norris and Crane employed stereotypes and concealed the narrator's point of view—and their own position as author—in stories that ask few questions about race or racism but instead indulge in self-questioning by the authors, framed in terms of an incongruous irony. Unlike London's, their results do not seem to clamor for social justice.

Keywords: Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, Jack London, racialism, naturalism, racism, social justice

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