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MEG-11: American Novel

MEG-11: American Novel

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

If you are looking for MEG-11 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject American Novel, you have come to the right place. MEG-11 solution on this page applies to 2022-23 session students studying in MEG, PGDNOV, PGDAML courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: MEG-11 / TMA / 2022-23

Course Code: MEG-11

Assignment Name: American Novel

Year: 2022 - 2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Answer all questions. All questions carry equal marks.


Q 1. Discuss the background and qualities of Romanticism as reflected in 19th Century American novel. 20

Ans) The 19th century was an exceptionally fruitful period in the annals of United States history. Following the events of the American Revolution and the War of 1812, the United States was still in the beginning stages of the process of developing its own culture as well as its own sense of identity. This time period, which is referred to in history as the Romantic period, had a significant impact on American education and may be considered the period that is responsible for the conception of what it means "to be an American."


Romanticism is the more common name for the period known as The Romantic period. Romanticism was a movement in trades and literature that started in Europe and eventually made its way to the United States, where it took on a life of its own there. At its origin, Romanticism was a reaction against the repressive neoclassical ideas of the preceding period of Enlightenment and industrialism. Romanticism also began as a reaction against the rise of the literary salon. It rejected ideas of stuffiness, rationalism, and religious strictness and instead focused on the emotions of the individual, the disquisition of tone, and the significance and beauty of the natural world. It was a time when sentiment took precedence over logic, and tone expression was prized more than the traditional practise of holding one's tongue.


The American Romantic movement was the first truly scholarly movement to ever take place in the United States, and it had a significant impact on the canon of American literature. Because it was around this time that American pens and artists began searching for a distinctively "American" voice, distinct from that of their British and European counterparts, the Romantic period in the United States was generally known as the "American Renaissance." Just a few short decades after the American Revolution and in the aftermath of the War of 1812, the country set itself up in a place of recently acquired freedom and at the cliff of everlasting possibility with respect to their identity as a nation. This was a pivotal time for the development of the nation's founding documents, which laid the groundwork for the nation's future. The period between the early and middle 1800s was marked by a state of liminality that resulted in an explosion of creative output and cultural advancement.


Romantic writers from Great Britain focused on the aesthetics of nature, emotions, and the tone of their writing; these writers inspired American artists to write about America through the lens of Romanticism. William Cullen Bryant, for example, was motivated to write poetry by the Romantic appreciation for nature to depict the landscape of New England outside. Henry David Thoreau, a significant figure in American literature, was also a participant in these workshops. Thoreau went on to become a leading member of the uniquely American literary movement known as transcendentalism.


In the meantime, social and political events similar to the induction of Andrew Jackson shaped popular study and conception. These events asserted the value of the individual regardless of their background or social status. told by this increase in popular ideal, American culture began to lead further toward individualism, compounding the previously being romantic ideas of tone-expression and independence. this trend can be attributed to the rise of the counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s.


As a result of the rapid pace of change and advancement, the American romantic movement started to flourish. pens that were similar to those written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who is credited with laying the groundwork for American Romanticism, encouraged other artists to investigate their own public identities and to depart from the European form, structure, and tradition that came before them. In turn, America started to develop its own unique voice that was full of spirit, which coincided with the beginning of the mortal tone.

Q 2. Discuss the common themes in the novels of Theodore Dreiser. Answer with suitable examples. 20

Ans) Dreiser’s considerable stature, beyond his historic importance as a pioneer of unvarnished truth-telling in modern literature, is due almost entirely to his achievements as a novelist. His sprawling imagination and cumbersome style kept him from performing well in the smaller literary forms, and his nonfiction writing, especially his essays, are marred by intellectual inconsistency, a lack of objectivity, and even bitterness. But these latter traits are much less obtrusive in his novels, where his compassion and empathy for human striving make his best work moving and memorable.


The long novel gave Dreiser the prime form through which to explore in depth the possibilities of 20th-century American life, with its material profusion and spiritual doubt. Dreiser’s characters struggle for self-realization in the face of society’s narrow and repressive moral conventions, and they often obtain material success and erotic gratification while a more enduring spiritual satisfaction eludes them. Despite Dreiser’s alleged deficiencies as a stylist, his novels succeed in their accumulation of realistic detail and in the power and integrity with which they delineate the tragic aspects of the American pursuit of worldly success. Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy are certainly enduring works of literature that display a deep understanding of the American experience around the turn of the century, with its expansive desires and pervasive disillusionments.

Examples of Novels of Theodore Dreiser

Dreiser’s first novel, Sister Carrie (1900), is a work of pivotal importance in American literature despite its inauspicious launching. It became a beacon to subsequent American writers whose allegiance was to the realistic treatment of any and all subject matter. Sister Carrie tells the story of a rudderless but pretty small-town girl who comes to the big city filled with vague ambitions.


She is used by men and uses them in turn to become a successful Broadway actress while George Hurstwood, the married man who has run away with her, loses his grip on life and descends into beggary and suicide. Sister Carrie was the first masterpiece of the American naturalistic movement in its grittily factual presentation of the vagaries of urban life and in its ingenuous heroine, who goes unpunished for her transgressions against conventional sexual morality. The book’s strengths include a brooding but compassionate view of humanity, a memorable cast of characters, and a compelling narrative line. The emotional disintegration of Hurstwood is a much-praised triumph of psychological analysis.


Dreiser’s second novel, Jennie Gerhardt (1911), is a lesser achievement than Sister Carrie owing to its heroine’s comparative lack of credibility. Based on Dreiser’s remembrance of his beloved mother, Jennie emerges as a plaster saint with whom most modern readers find it difficult to empathize. The novel’s strengths include stinging characterizations of social snobs and narrow “religionists,” as well as a deep sympathy for the poor.


The ‘Genius’ (1915) is artistically one of Dreiser’s least successful novels but is nonetheless indispensable to an understanding of his psychology. This book chronicles its autobiographical hero’s career as an artist and his unpredictable pursuit of the perfect woman as a source of ultimate fulfilment.


Dreiser’s longest novel, An American Tragedy (1925), is a complex and compassionate account of the life and death of a young antihero named Clyde Griffiths. The novel begins with Clyde’s blighted background, recounts his path to success, and culminates in his apprehension, trial, and execution for murder. The book was called by one influential critic “the worst-written great novel in the world,” but its questionable grammar and style are transcended by its narrative power. Dreiser’s labyrinthine speculations on the extent of Clyde’s guilt do not blunt his searing indictment of materialism and the American dream of success.


Dreiser’s next-to-last novel, The Bulwark (1946), is the story of a Quaker father’s unavailing struggle to shield his children from the materialism of modern American life. More intellectually consistent than Dreiser’s earlier novels, this book also boasts some of his most polished prose.

Q 3. Attempt a critical analysis of The Sound and the Fury. 20

Ans) Faulkner's fourth novel, The Sound and the Fury, was published in 1929. It is Faulkner's best work. From 1898 to 1928, the novel follows the Compson family from multiple perspectives. Caddy Compson climbs a tree to see her dead grandmother through the parlour window, as Faulkner begins the storey. The novel's unifying theme is Caddy's relationship with her brothers Quentin, Jason, and Benjy. Faulkner employs multiple points of view.


Life, according to Macbeth, is "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Faulkner's first chapter is told by Benjy Compson. "The title became more elastic, covering the entire family," writes Faulkner. Benjy's Interior Monologue in this chapter provides the reader with direct and immediate impressions of the world.


The novel begins in 1928, on Benjy's 33rd birthday. Benjy and his 14-year-old black caretaker stand by the fence that separates the Compsons' pasture from the golf course. Caddy's wedding and Quentin's Harvard education necessitated the sale of the pasture in 1909. Benjy's thoughts flit between the present and the past, tinged with unsettling flashbacks, such as recalling Caddy's wedding. Luster's scenes are set in the present day, T. P. Gibson's in 1906 and 1912, and Versh Gibson's in 1898 and 1900, when Benjy was a child.


Luster searches along the fence for a misplaced quarter in Benjy's disjointed storey. Benjy reflects on the death of his grandmother Damuddy. Benjy recalls changing his name from "Maury" to "Benjamin," losing Caddy's virginity, selling the pasture, Caddy's wedding, his brother Quentin's suicide, and the day his body was brought home from Cambridge, his castration after a neighbour’s daughter was attacked, and his father's death and funeral.


"June Second, 1910," the second chapter, jumps ahead eighteen years in time and is narrated by Quentin, a romantic idealist and Hamlet-like figure, pensive brooding and guilt-ridden for his incestuous feelings for his sister. Quentin has neurotic desires and thoughts. His actions foreshadow his impending demise. Finally, Quentin commits suicide while contemplating his sister Caddy. Quentin is the only narrator who is aware of the Compsons' impending doom.


The third Chapter of The Sound and the Fury is narrated by Jason Compson, Jr., the resentful and hard-hearted son, and takes place on Good Friday, April 6, 1928. Jason is his mother's favourite, and he, like his mother, is self-absorbed. Caddy's disgrace and divorce from Herbert dashed Jason's hopes. Caddy's daughter Quentin is despised and shunned, and Benjy is an unnecessary burden whom Jason wishes to confine in a mental institution. Jason is the Compsons' ultimate degeneracy.


The final chapter, set on April 8, 1928, is written in the third person. Dilsey, the Compsons' black servant, is having a bad day on Easter morning. The house is freezing because there is no firewood. Dilsey begins to prepare breakfast. Jason interrupts his meal to express his dissatisfaction with a broken window in his bedroom. Quentin, his sister's daughter, fled.


Meanwhile, Dilsey attends Easter services. She drives her daughter Frony, son Luster, and son-in-law Benjy to church. The preacher starts slowly and builds to a crescendo that tears Dilsey up. "I read the beginning and now I see the end," says Dilsey. Dilsey is the action's chorus. Her presence also contextualises the Compsons' entire storey. After lunch, Luster takes Benjy to the cellar and tries a trick on him. Benjy starts moaning when he hears a golfer call for his Caddie. The sound of the word reminds him of his missing sister. Jason slaps Benjy and tells him to shut up. "I'll kill you if you ever cross that gate with him again!" he commands and warns Luster. Benjy returns to the Compson home, his eyes serene and empty, looking at each passing object "in its ordered place," as the novel concludes.


Critics have compared Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury to Joyce's Ulysses because of its interior monologue technique and complex time scheme. The novel's four narratives take place on four different days, three in 1928 and one in 1910, and its stream-of-consciousness technique, of course, qualifies it as a Modernist novel. The first fractured storey, according to the plot, is set in 1928 and belongs to Benjy, an idiot with a mental age of five. We now proceed to Quentin Compson's monologue from the day before his suicide in 1910. The surviving, opportunistic Jason Compson's voice is then heard, followed by the enduring voice of the black servant Dilsey.


Faulkner's remarkable Modernist strategies are reinforced by the primary consciousness of a larger history, the history of Yoknapatawpha itself. Faulkner's concept of time is based on the endless intertwining of personal and public histories, as well as the interrelationship of the lost past with the chaotic present. A central theme of The Sound and the Fury is Quentin's attempt to stop both subjective and historical time by defending his sister Caddy's virginity from psychic corruption and the flow of time. Benjy is caught in a single, uninterrupted moment of time.


Dilsey sees things through the lens of human continuity, whereas Jason sees things empirically. It is interesting that Dilsey becomes the figure of sustenance at the end of the novel. She is a descendant of slaves; through her, black people come into their own, while slaveowner descendants disintegrate, dumb, corrupt, and guilt-ridden. As a result, themes and images multiply, resulting in novel symbolic qualities.

Q 4. Discuss theme, plot, narrative techniques and style of the novel Black Spring. 20

Ans) Themes in the Novel Black Spring-

1. Dream vs reality

Miller purposefully blends dream and reality in many sections to demonstrate how thin the line between the two is. He seamlessly transitions from the anecdotal to the dreamlike, causing the reader to abandon any serious hopes of determining which is which. Miller's dream journaling and psychoanalytic work led him to realise that dreams reveal our unconscious to us, and that if we study them carefully, we can discover the things that impede our ability to achieve a unified self. Miller needs to work through his anxieties, family traumas, tangled relationship with America, despair over finding meaning for himself, and so on, and dreams help him do so.


2. Modernity and Identity

The unified and contented self is difficult to achieve in the modern world, with its inundation of signs and spectacle, its incessant emphasis on the present, its blithe capacity to render mass death, and its disillusioning chaos and crassness. Miller saw childhood as an idyllic time of wholeness, but as an adult, he is fragmented, his storey inexorably intertwining with other stories and his present, past, and future threatening to tear him apart.


3. Memory and Nostalgia

Miller spends a significant amount of time in Black Spring reliving his youth and early adulthood in New York City. Despite the difficulties of the time—WWII, a slowing economy, social and racial tensions—Miller was content for much of his childhood. Even when he disliked his parents, was traumatised by having to institutionalise his aunt, and wondered what his life was all about, he had a fondness for the people, places, and sensations of home. Memory can be both sustaining and destructive; it can help us keep things alive while also reminding us of what is no longer present and obstructing our ability to move forward.


4. Childhood vs. Adulthood

Miller's depiction of childhood is one of peace, security, community, and self-unity. The Fourteenth Ward is filthy and rundown, but as a boy, it has everything Miller requires. He and his childhood friends appear to live in a timeless existence with few distinctions between pleasure, pain, and sorrow.


Plot and Narrative Techniques in Black Spring

Black Spring, published two years after Tropic of Cancer, deals with many of the same themes, but in a different mood. "My name is Chancre, and I am a crab that can move sideways, backwards, and forwards at will. "I travel in strange tropics," Miller declares, explaining the link between Black Spring and the Tropic of Cancer. And the title's black spring is a metaphor for the world's calamity. It is also known as "the season of ecstatic despair." Instead of remaining in the present, the narrative shifts through time and space, from Pairs to memories of Brooklyn and New York, and then to other planes of reverie and fantasy. He is less ferocious, less hungry, and more euphoric now; there is less sex and obscenity, less action and violence.


There is now more delirium than cancer, as well as more dreaming, hallucination, and schizophrenia. Miller investigates various modes and levels of perception. Black Spring was written both before and after the delayed release of Cancer. Miller describes the post-cancer period as "euphoric?" and "ultra-happy." Miller delivers a series of monologues, meditations, reminiscences, dreams, and visions that alternate between his Paris surroundings and his early years in Brooklyn and New York. A coherence of theme and symbol lies beneath its chaotic variety in style and technique.

Style In Black Spring

Stylistically Black Spring is a stunning novel, the product of a wild imagination intoxicated by words. Miller is a poet of reckless abandon, with exuberant and prodigious language that is often used for sound rather than meaning. He enjoys jargon and parody and easily devolves into nonsense and jabberwocky. 'Jabberwhorl cronstadt is a verbal caricature of a friend who parodies and turns his multisyllabic pontification into nonsense. Jabberwhorl becomes increasingly drunk and in language reels as the conversation progresses: Miller drags in his usual catalogue of exotic names and miscellaneous titbits of information, as well as his joking delight in scientific jargons.

Q 5. What are the major themes and characters of the novel The Catcher in the Rye. 20

Ans) The Catcher in the Rye Themes


1. Painful Experience vs. Numbness

The novel explores the relationship between actual experience and feeling one's feelings and emotional numbness. Holden loses all attachments after Allie's death to avoid pain. He advises against getting attached because you will miss them. By the end of the novel, he is afraid to speak because of his theory. Holden's only love is Phoebe. He loves her as he did Allie. These feelings deplete him. When Phoebe joins him, he sacrifices his instinct to flee to return home.


2. Love and Sex

Holden cannot dull his emotions. He envies Stradlater's ability to pick up women and enjoy sex. Holden is sex averse. He cannot be casual with girls or numb himself. Holden must numb himself to love. His love for the world and people keeps him open. When he falls for Jane Gallagher, he learns Stradlater has a date with her, confirming his suspicion that everything he loves deteriorates. Pencey cannot create a new identity. Even when he is with a prostitute, he can only think about talking to her. Nobody listens to Holden.


3. Loss of Innocence

Holden faces the fork in adolescence when he realises that maturity means losing innocence — that knowing more costs something. Holden cannot accept Allie's death because she was innocent. Holden calls everyone but Allie "phoney." Innocence is idealistic and cannot accept harsh realities. Holden's innocence is ruined by disappointment. Maturity is cheaper than innocence. Man, who takes him in seems like a paedophile, and cab drivers call him stupid when he asks about park birds. Allie's memory keeps him innocent, but he cannot find love outside.


4. Phoniness vs. Authenticity

Holden calls Phoebe, Allie, and himself "phonies." Holden calls anyone who studies or pretends to work a "phoney." No one acknowledges how trivial and fleeting life is, compared to the grand things we tell each other about reality—how difficult it is to truly love and share oneself when all, like Allie, will die—causing him frustration, even rage. Holden understands one of life's deepest truths: the superficial is unimportant because it will not last.


Around him, shallow people win by cheating. He despises Stradlater, the Headmaster, and all the Social Darwinist boys. Holden wants authentic living, to hold on to Phoebe or Allie who are not tainted by the world's superficiality, but he is afraid to be too real for fear of losing them forever.


5. Life and Death

Holden's life centres on Allie's death. Then we die. Holden remembers James Castle, a skinny boy who jumped out a school window. Holden suicidal. He stopped living by numbing his emotions. Holden cannot pick. He cannot imagine James Castle unattended in blood and stone. Death seems worse than suicide, the ultimate loneliness. He saw how death affected people. Unlike Allie, he cannot hurt Phoebe.


He knows he must gradually distance himself from Phoebe so she can adjust to losing him and he can adjust to being away from her. Holden needs love and closeness to renew his life, but he avoids loss. More he wants to live, the more antisocial he becomes. It hurts to shut down one's feelings and to risk opening up again in Holden's life. He struggles to avoid death.


6. Lack of Authority Figures

Holden's solo. His parents are absent but insist he stay in school as long as possible. His parents send him on without letting him regroup. Most Pencey adults are fake, so Holden cannot trust them. Selfish adults abuse children. Holden distrusts adults. Deterioration disgusts him. He focuses on an old professor's horrible body when he visits. Not appealing due to ageing.


Wisdom and authority do not mix. Holden suspects adults' advice to find direction and stability as naive and inauthentic. Holden cannot be his own law, so it is unclear where he can find authority.


7. Loneliness

Holden's adolescent loneliness is deep. He admits loneliness, showing he has emotions. Holden does not fight loneliness. He sabotages every attempt to meet someone, call a girl, or socialise. He is so self-protective that he shuts off friendship. Jane's call is cut short. He cannot find comfort with a prostitute. He wants to hang out with friends at a bar, but he offends them. Pushing people away increases his loneliness, but he would rather endure that than lose Allie.


Major Characters in the Novel ‘The Catcher in the Rye’

1. Holden - The protagonist and narrator of the novel, he tells his story from a sanatorium in California.

2. Phoebe - Holden's 10-year-old sister is his most trusted link to family.

3. Mr. Antolini - Holden's favourite teacher while at Elkton Hills, he is now an English instructor at New York University. His behaviour at the Antolinis' apartment disturbs Holden.

4. Lillian Antolini - Serious, older, asthmatic, intellectual, and wealthy, Antolini's wife is a somewhat enigmatic partner for the popular young instructor.

5. Mr. Spencer- An elderly history teacher at Pencey Prep, he may mean well but has a tendency toward pontificating.

6. Mrs. Spencer - The history professor's wife is known for her forbearance, kindness, and hot chocolate.

7. Mr. Vinson - Holden's speech teacher at Pencey wants his students to unify and simplify their speeches but never digress.

8. Jane Gallagher - Holden likes to remember Jane as a sensitive, innocent girl with a unique approach to checkers. She is Stradlater's date Saturday evening, which bothers Holden.

9. Ward Stradlater - Holden's roommate at Pencey is handsome but vain and a boorish womanizer.

10. Mrs. Morrow - The mother of Holden's contemptible classmate, Ernest, she shares a train ride and creative conversation with "Rudolf Schmidt," the alias used by Holden.

11. Horwitz - The most interesting of the cab drivers in the novel, he takes Holden to Ernie's Nightclub and offers unusual zoological insight regarding those ducks and the fish at the lagoon.

12. Faith Cavendish - As one example of Holden's struggles with sexuality, she turns down his awkward and untimely request for a date.


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