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The Naturalist Movement: The Monster, and The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

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“A man said to the universe: ‘Sir, I exist!’ ‘However’ replied the universe, ‘the fact has not created in me a sense of obligation’”~ Stephen Crane. Crane was the champion of the American naturalist movement. Following the Civil War, American authors had to adjust and react to the astounding amount of death that occurred. Authors began to write more realistic stories and started the Realism movement. The Realist authors who took the foundations a step farther created the Naturalists. Naturalists believed that humans were hopeless and that the world was against human nature. These authors could touch on more controversial problems in life, such as racism and violence because they could create a realistic environment and make a comment on society through the characters’ inability to change the environment. Naturalist, like Crane, believed that the environment dictated human nature and life. For example, a person in poverty could not escape poverty because of the society around them would limit or totally eradicate any chance of improving their lives. These ideas spawned not only from the Civil War put from the crowded cities and slums where the poor suffered and remained poor. Humans cannot, in the eyes of a Naturalist, make effective change to their standing in life. The Naturalistic influence in The Monster and The Red Badge of Courage created common philosophies in the novels.

The Monster is believed to be based off several events that occurred during Crane’s life (Nagel). Stephen got the idea of a man without a face from Levi Hume. Levi suffered from cancer which ate away his face and left him a faceless man, much like Henry Johnson in The Monster. Another possible influence on the novel was the life of John Merrick (Nagel)....

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