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Title: The Incorporation of Identity: Alientation and the Marketplace in Melville, Salinger, and Crews
Authors: Curran, Tyler Jennings
Advisors: Jim Clark, Committee Member
Mike Grimwood, Committee Member
Anne Baker, Committee Chair
Keywords: existentialism
electronic communication
identity theft
american literature
Issue Date: 11-Dec-2006
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
Abstract: This thesis examines how the history and development of capitalism affect the characters in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye (1951), and Harry Crews's Car (1972). In particular, it examines the ways in which the individual copes with the alienating economic pressures of the mid-nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. Relying on historical and sociological perspectives, this project reveals the degree to which these novels elucidate a marked tension between capitalism and democracy — between private interests and the public trust. The introduction contextualizes the novels and provides a historical account of corporate capitalism's development from the Civil War to the present. The subsequent chapters present analyses of the novels that are informed by history. They demonstrate that the alienation and existential dread experienced by Melville's, Salinger's, and Crews's characters are exacerbated by the dominance of capitalism over social life. Finally, this project examines the ways in which these novels scrutinize systems of social organization and it finds that these novels encourage readers to evaluate systems of social organization for points of revision, reform, or potential improvement.
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