Comparing Fire and Ice, Soldier's Home, The Jilting of Granny Weatherall, and Sunday Morning

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Lessons from Fire and Ice, Soldier's Home, The Jilting of Granny Weatherall, and Sunday Morning

Grasping for stability on the face of a chaotic universe, modernist writers believed that the traditional assumptions about family, war, society, and religion were no longer valid. Before, during, and after World War I, the modernists displayed the influences of scientific revolutions, familial upheaval, social reform, and philosophical questions. Religion was particularly decimated by the ravages of questioning. This central motivating factor of not only the United States, but the entire world, was intensely scrutinized and oftentimes abandoned by the modernists, and criticism, abandonment, and reconstruction of religion are evident in selected works of Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, Katherine Anne Porter, and Wallace Stevens. Frost flippantly scoffs at doomsday predictions in "Fire and Ice." In contrast to Frost's assertion of the power of the individual against scientific prediction and religious prophecy, Harold Krebs folds under his family's religious pressure in Hemingway's "Soldier Home." Alienated from both her family and society, Granny Weatherall tries to use Roman Catholicism as a ticket to Heaven in Porter's "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall," but she realizes the pointlessness of this goal on her deathbed. As a culmination of the underlying implications of modernist thought, Wallace Stevens embraces a new religious order in "Sunday Morning." As opposed to a transcendent and unseeable yearning for the afterlife, Modernism presents the option of a new faith in the power of natural and secular reality.

In a few succinct and profound lines, Robert Frost alludes to two predominant theories of world destruction in "Fire...

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... and Ice," "Soldier's Home," "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall," and "Sunday Morning," for the relevance of the these works has not diminished over time. With profound insight and acute introspection, the modernists urge the reader to question the validity of traditional religion, and their disillusioned, alienated, and experimental voices do not soothe the individual into complacency and stagnation. Unsettled and possibly uprooted, a reader must then reevaluate his or her own spiritual odyssey.

Works Cited

Frost, Robert. "Fire and Ice." McQuade 2: 1256.

Hemingway, Ernest. "Soldier's Home." McQuade 2: 1159-63.

McQuade, Donald, et al. ed. The Harper American Literature. 2nd ed. 2 vols. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.

Porter, Katherine Anne. "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall." McQuade 2: 1056-62

Stevens, Wallace. "Sunday Morning." McQuade 2: 1273-76.
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