Contextualization (E.H.) Copy



  • At the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S started to change its relations with the world and ended its isolation from international conflicts.
  • The U.S was the world’s richest and most powerful nation;
  • The U.S got involved in WW I (1917) and WW II (1941). The involvement in WWII was a consequence of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbour;
  • The U.S dropped the first atomic bomb used in the war on Hiroshima and Nagasaki;
  • After WWII the U.S took over the role of leader of the Western World, establishing the Marshall Aid plan and NATO.


The 1920s were called “The Roaring Twenties”. It was a period of excess and enjoyment.

1920-1933 ̵ the Prohibition: the ban on alcohol, clubs are illegal but they function underground and alcohol is trafficked;

1929 ̵ the prosperity comes to a sudden end because of The Great Depression ̵ millions of people lose jobs and the economy suffers an abrupt decline;

Despite the economic hardships of the 1930s, society evolved:

  • Women of the jazz era embraced new roles; they had more freedom, danced, drank, went clubbing.
  • Fashion changed radically.

After WWII (1945) the economy enjoys a boom;

The consumer society is born:

  • Radio
  • Telephone
  • Refrigerator
  • Automobile
  • The middle class prospers and has access to higher education.


American Modernism is characterized by a sharp break from

  • The past
  • The traditions of the Western civilization

American modernist writers rebel against all previous literature and Western models, they are angry and disillusioned with the savage war and its consequences.

Writers have a godless worldview;

Breakdown of traditional values;

Modernism is a reaction against Realism and Naturalism, which aimed at representing reality as we see it;

Modernism is influenced by:

  • Einstein’s theory of relativity;
  • Freud’s psychological studies;
  • Marx’s political theories.

The modernist novel:

  • Non-chronological, it experiments with the representation of time (temporal juxtapositions, sudden jumps);
  • The modernist narration moves from one level of narration to another without warning; thus, it breaks narrative frames.
  • The modernist narration focuses on the inner world. The plot of events becomes less important than the character’s consciousness, unconsciousness, memory, and perception.
  • Experiments with form and style.


Born in Illinois, in a conservative community;

Injured during World War and awarded the Silver Medal of Bravery;

Worked as a journalist;

Lived in Paris and was part of the group called “The Lost Generation”;

Lived in Key West, Florida, and travelled to Spain and Africa;

Won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 (“The Old Man and the Sea”);

Won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.


  • “A Farewell to Arms”
  • “For Whom the Bell Tolls”
  • “The Old Man and the Sea”

Short stories:

  • “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”
  • “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”
  • “Hills Like White Elephants”