Analysis Of Their Experience In A Flat

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A couple from the countryside decides to move to the city and rent a flat in the short literary piece entitled “Their Experience in a Flat” by Christine Terhune Herrick. The location of the city is never mentioned, which seems to create the impression that the couple’s experience is typical of most urban cities. The couple, suitably named the Goodenoughs, initially want to find a house, but later decide to rent a flat instead. Their hunt is reminiscent of the March’s apartment search in William Dean Howells’ A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890). Like the Goodenoughs, the Marches also relocated from a smaller location to a hectic urban city. In the essay entitled “‘The Knowledge of the Line’: Realism and the City in Howells’s A Hazard of New Fortunes,” (1986) author Amy Kaplan writes about the prevalence of moving to the city in the late nineteenth century: “Like many other middle-class families in the 1880s, the Marches are renting an apartment in an urban center for the first time in their lives” (73). The Goodenough’s experience of life in a flat, however, proves to be more challenging than the…show more content…
In a sense, their situation is similar to those who migrated to the frontier. As Kaplan explains, “Journalists, reformers, and pulp novelists depicted the city as a new frontier or foreign territory to settle and explore and regarded its inhabitants—usually immigrants—as natives to civilize and control” (70). The natives that the Goodenoughs encountered were their neighbors, but the couple did not have the power or authority to control their fellow flatmates’ behavior. Herrick details how the Goodenoughs were subjected to foul-smelling odors, loud stomping from the flat above, arguments from the flats next door, and the sounds of “the spanking the mother of the large family on the first floor bestow[ed] upon her youngest hope”

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