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MEG-06: American Literature

MEG-06: American Literature

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2023-24

If you are looking for MEG-06 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject American Literature, you have come to the right place. MEG-06 solution on this page applies to 2023-24 session students studying in MEG, PGDAML courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: MEG-06/TMA/2023-24

Course Code: MEG-06

Assignment Name: American Literature

Year: 2023-2024

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Q1) Discuss the material conditions and circumstances which made The American Enlightenment possible.

Ans) The American Enlightenment was a period of intellectual and philosophical ferment in the American colonies during the 18th century. It was characterized by a focus on reason, science, and individual rights, and it played a pivotal role in shaping the political and intellectual foundations of the United States.

Colonial Prosperity:

The economic prosperity of the American colonies in the 18th century provided a favourable material backdrop for intellectual and cultural development. Economic growth, driven by agriculture, trade, and commerce, created a rising middle class with the time and resources to engage in intellectual pursuits.

Access to European Ideas:

American colonists had access to a wealth of European Enlightenment ideas and literature. Enlightenment thinkers from Europe, such as John Locke, Montesquieu, and Voltaire, greatly influenced American intellectuals. The circulation of Enlightenment works through print culture allowed these ideas to spread rapidly.

Urbanization and Print Culture:

The growth of cities and urban centres in the colonies facilitated intellectual exchange. Urban areas were hubs of print culture, with printing presses and publishing houses disseminating books, newspapers, and pamphlets. This allowed for the wide distribution of Enlightenment literature and ideas.

Religious Pluralism:

The religious diversity in the American colonies created an environment where different religious traditions and ideas could coexist. This pluralism encouraged intellectual freedom and the exchange of ideas, as individuals from various religious backgrounds engaged in dialogue.

Colonial Colleges and Education:

The establishment of colonial colleges, such as Harvard (1636), Yale (1701), and Princeton (1746), provided institutions for higher learning. These colleges educated a new generation of thinkers who were exposed to Enlightenment ideas and were instrumental in disseminating these ideas to a wider audience.

Enlightenment Societies and Salons:

Enlightenment societies and salons, inspired by European counterparts, emerged in the American colonies. These gatherings provided a forum for intellectuals and thinkers to engage in discussions on science, philosophy, and politics. The American Philosophical Society, founded by Benjamin Franklin, was a notable example.

Colonial Discontent and Political Climate:

The political climate in the colonies, marked by discontent with British colonial rule and increasing calls for independence, created an atmosphere conducive to intellectual reflection. Colonists were grappling with fundamental questions of liberty, governance, and the nature of power, which dovetailed with Enlightenment principles.

Influence of Key Thinkers:

Prominent American Enlightenment thinkers, such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Paine, played pivotal roles in shaping the era. They were influenced by Enlightenment ideas and actively contributed to the discourse on liberty, natural rights, and constitutional government.

Enlightenment Values and Ideals:

The Enlightenment stressed values such as reason, empiricism, scepticism, and the belief in the perfectibility of humanity. These values resonated with the colonists' aspirations for a better society and government.

The American Revolution:

The American Revolution itself was a product of Enlightenment thought. The Declaration of Independence, authored by Thomas Jefferson, is a quintessential Enlightenment document, asserting the principles of individual rights, liberty, and government by consent.

Q2) Discuss the use of human as a tool of social criticism in Huckleberry Finn.

Ans) Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is a novel that uses the character of Huckleberry Finn, a young boy, as a tool of social criticism to highlight the flaws and hypocrisies of society, particularly in the American South during the mid-19th century. Through Huck's observations and experiences, the novel addresses issues such as racism, slavery, and societal conformity.

Racism and Slavery:

Huck's journey down the Mississippi River with Jim, an escaped slave, exposes the deep-seated racism and hypocrisy of society. Huck initially holds the racist beliefs common to his time and place, but as he spends time with Jim, he comes to see Jim as a person and a friend, challenging the dehumanizing stereotypes of African Americans prevalent in society.

Conformity and Morality:

Huck's rejection of societal norms and his decision to help Jim escape slavery demonstrate his resistance to conformity. He grapples with the conflict between his own moral sense, which tells him that helping Jim is right, and the dictates of society, which label such actions as wrong. This conflict highlights the hypocrisy of a society that claims to be moral while condoning the institution of slavery.

Satire and Mockery:

Through Huck's narration, Twain employs satire and mockery to criticize various aspects of society. For example, the absurdity of feuds and vendettas is exposed when Huck describes the ongoing feud between the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons. The senseless violence and irrationality of these conflicts are highlighted through Huck's innocent perspective.

Hypocrisy and Religion:

Huck encounters religious hypocrisy in his adventures, particularly in the character of Miss Watson and the Grangerfords. Miss Watson preaches Christian values but owns slaves, while the Grangerfords attend church while participating in a senseless feud. Huck's scepticism about organized religion and his questioning of religious hypocrisy serves as a critique of societal morality.

Social Injustice and Class Divide:

Huck's experiences with the Duke and the King, two con artists who exploit others for personal gain, underscore the theme of social injustice and the exploitation of the vulnerable by those in power. The novel critiques a society in which the wealthy and privileged can manipulate and victimize those lower in the social hierarchy.

Individualism vs. Collectivism:

Huck embodies the spirit of individualism as he frequently chooses his own path rather than conforming to societal expectations. His journey down the river represents his quest for personal freedom and autonomy. This theme of individualism is a critique of a society that stifles individuality and enforces conformity.

Innocence and Moral Clarity:

Huck, as a child and a character who possesses a sense of innocence and moral clarity, contrasts with the corrupt and hypocritical adults in the novel. His genuine goodness and honesty serve as a critique of the moral decay and corruption he encounters in society.

Irony and Social Critique:

Twain employs irony throughout the novel to satirize society's shortcomings. Huck's ironic observations about the absurdity and contradictions of society add depth to the novel's social critique.

Final Rejection of Society:

At the end of the novel, Huck decides to "light out for the Territory" rather than return to civilization. This final act of rejecting society's constraints and norms is a poignant statement on the irredeemable flaws of the society he has encountered.

Q3) Comment on the theme of Wallace Steven’s poem ‘The Emperor of Ice-cream’.

Ans) Wallace Stevens' poem "The Emperor of Ice-Cream" is a complex and enigmatic work that explores themes of life, death, and the transitory nature of existence. Through vivid and unconventional imagery, the poem invites readers to contemplate the significance of life's fleeting moments and the inevitability of mortality.

Celebration of Life's Pleasures:

The poem begins with the image of a concierge (or housekeeper) preparing for a wake or funeral, as evidenced by the "wench" who is "whistling." However, instead of focusing on death and mourning, the poem shifts its attention to the mundane pleasures of life. The concierge's "wench" is busy making ice cream, suggesting a celebration of life's simple joys.

The Ice-Cream as a Metaphor:

The ice cream in the poem serves as a metaphor for the sweetness and delight that can be found in everyday experiences. It represents the fleeting moments of happiness and pleasure that are accessible to all, even in the face of mortality. The title, "The Emperor of Ice-Cream," suggests that these moments of joy and indulgence are a form of sovereignty over life's impermanence.

Contrast Between Life and Death:

Stevens juxtaposes the preparation for a funeral with the scene of people enjoying ice cream. This stark contrast between the somber and the joyful highlights the coexistence of life and death in the human experience. It suggests that even in the presence of death, life continues, and moments of happiness persist.

The Role of Objects:

The poem is rich in imagery, and various objects take on symbolic significance. The "dresser of deal" and the "footman" represent the material world, while the "wench" symbolizes life's vitality and sensuality. The "cold" and "hard" nature of the objects contrasts with the warmth and sweetness of the ice cream, emphasizing the contrast between life and death.

Ambiguity and Interpretation:

"The Emperor of Ice-Cream" is known for its ambiguity and resistance to easy interpretation. The poem challenges readers to grapple with its enigmatic language and unconventional structure. This ambiguity mirrors the complexity of life and the difficulty of finding meaning in the face of mortality.

The Role of Perception:

The poem suggests that the way they perceive, and approach life's experiences is crucial. The ice cream represents a moment of pleasure and indulgence, but it is up to individuals to seize and appreciate such moments. Perception and attitude play a significant role while confronting the transitory nature of existence.

Themes of Impermanence and Acceptance:

Ultimately, "The Emperor of Ice-Cream" explores the inevitability of death and the impermanence of life. The poem does not offer a clear resolution or answer but instead encourages readers to confront these existential realities. It suggests that accepting the transient nature of life can lead to a deeper appreciation of its fleeting beauty.

Language and Poetry:

The poem itself is a reflection on the power of language and poetry to capture and convey the complexities of human existence. Stevens' use of vivid and unconventional imagery challenges traditional poetic conventions and invites readers to engage with the poem on a deeper level.

Q4) Discuss on the appropriateness of the title Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye.

Ans) Toni Morrison's novel "The Bluest Eye" is a powerful and thought-provoking work that delves into themes of identity, beauty, and self-worth, particularly in the context of the African American experience in the United States. The title of the novel, "The Bluest Eye," is deeply appropriate and significant, encapsulating the central themes and motifs of the story.

Symbolism of Blue Eyes:

The title "The Bluest Eye" directly references the desire for blue eyes that haunts the novel's protagonist, Pecola Breedlove. Pecola longs for blue eyes because she believes that possessing them would make her beautiful and desirable, ultimately solving her problems and improving her life. This desire for blue eyes symbolizes the destructive impact of Eurocentric beauty standards on Black individuals, particularly young girls like Pecola.

Critique of White Beauty Standards:

The novel serves as a scathing critique of the prevailing white beauty standards that prioritize Eurocentric features, such as blue eyes and fair skin, as the epitome of beauty. These standards not only exclude Black individuals but also perpetuate a sense of inferiority and self-hatred among them. The title reflects the novel's focus on dismantling these damaging standards and exposing their harmful consequences.

Internalized Racism and Self-Hatred:

Pecola's obsession with blue eyes and her belief that having them would transform her life highlight the tragic effects of internalized racism and self-hatred. The title underscores the theme of how society's prejudices can lead individuals to devalue their own identities and strive for an unattainable ideal.

The Quest for Whiteness:

Throughout the novel, various characters, including Pecola, Claudia, and Maureen, grapple with the idea that whiteness and white features are superior and desirable. The title "The Bluest Eye" encapsulates this yearning for whiteness and the belief that it holds the key to social acceptance and self-worth.

The Gaze and Perception:

The title also touches upon the idea of how one is perceived and valued based on their physical appearance. Pecola's belief in the transformative power of blue eyes is rooted in the idea that altering her appearance would change how others see her. The title underscores the novel's exploration of the societal gaze and its impact on individual identity.

Irony and Tragedy:

The title "The Bluest Eye" is ironic in the sense that it highlights Pecola's pursuit of an ideal that is unattainable and destructive. The tragic irony lies in the fact that her quest for blue eyes, a symbol of beauty and acceptance, leads to her mental and emotional deterioration.

Multifaceted Themes:

While the title directly refers to Pecola's desire for blue eyes, it also encompasses broader themes related to identity, self-esteem, and societal prejudices. The novel explores the blueness of the eye as a symbol of conformity to oppressive standards and the erasure of individuality.

Empathy and Understanding:

Ultimately, "The Bluest Eye" calls upon readers to empathize with Pecola's plight and understand the profound impact of racism and societal expectations on the self-esteem and mental well-being of Black individuals. The title serves as a poignant reminder of the novel's core message.

Q5) Attempt a critical reading of A Clean Well Lighted Place.

Ans) Ernest Hemingway's short story "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" is a masterful exploration of existential themes, loneliness, and the human condition. Set in a Spanish café late at night, the story delves into the lives of its three main characters: the old man, the younger waiter, and the older waiter and their shared experience of seeking solace and meaning in a seemingly indifferent world.

Existential Isolation:

The story opens with the younger waiter's impatience to close the café and return home to his wife, highlighting the generational divide. He represents the impulsive, impatient youth. In contrast, the older waiter empathizes with the old man's need for a clean, well-lighted place to find comfort and meaning, reflecting a deeper understanding of existential loneliness.

Nihilism and Despair:

The old man's deafness and the fact that he has attempted suicide suggest a profound sense of isolation and despair. He seeks refuge in the café as a place where he can delay the darkness and nothingness of the night, a symbol of life's inherent meaninglessness.

The Café as a Sanctuary:

The café itself becomes a symbol of refuge and solace for the old man. It represents the human need for a clean, well-lit space in a world filled with darkness and chaos. The café's cleanliness and illumination offer a semblance of order and meaning.

The Older Waiter's Empathy:

The older waiter, who shares the old man's sense of isolation, expresses empathy for the old man's desire to linger in the café. He understands the importance of a well-lighted place as a sanctuary against the darkness of the world. This empathy sets him apart from the younger waiter, who lacks understanding and compassion.

The Search for Meaning:

The story grapples with the existential search for meaning in an indifferent universe. The old man's need for a clean, well-lit place is not simply about physical comfort; it is a symbol of the human quest for purpose and significance in a world that often seems devoid of both.

The Older Waiter's Philosophy:

The older waiter's musings on nada, or nothingness, reflect existentialist themes. He acknowledges the darkness of the world and the inevitability of death but seeks solace in the rituals of life, such as a clean café and a well-lighted place. He understands that these rituals may be empty, but they provide a temporary respite from the void.

The Human Condition:

Hemingway's story serves as a meditation on the human condition itself. The three characters represent different stages of life and attitudes toward existence. The younger waiter embodies impatience and dismissiveness, the old man embodies despair, and the older waiter embodies empathy and a deeper awareness of life's complexities.

Ambiguity and Interpretation:

Hemingway's minimalist style leaves much unsaid, inviting readers to interpret the story's meaning. The narrative's ambiguity mirrors the ambiguity of life itself. It challenges readers to grapple with existential questions and the human need for connection and meaning.

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