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A CRITICAL STUDY OF HEROISM AND SURVIVAL IN


CHARLES FRAZIERS SELECT NOVELS
INTRODUCTION
American literature is the body of written works produced in English language in
the area of the United States and its preceding colonies. During its early history, America
was a series of British colonies on the eastern coast of the present-day United States.
Therefore, its literary tradition begins as linked to the broader tradition of English
literature. However, unique American characteristics and the breadth of its production
usually now cause it to be considered as a separate path and tradition.
The literature produced in the part of America known as the United States did not
begin as an independent literature. England bestowed on the earliest settlers the English
language, books, and modes of thought. England had an established literature long before
the first permanent settlement across the Atlantic was considered. Shakespeare, for
example, had died only four years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth.
For nearly two hundred years after the first English settlements in America, the
majority of the works read there were written by English authors. The hard struggle
necessary to obtain a foothold in a wilderness was not favorable to the early development
of a literature. Those who remained in England could not clear away the forest, till the
soil, and contend with Indians, but they could write the books and send them across the
ocean. The early settlers were for the most part content to allow English authors to do

this. For these reasons it is unsurprising that early American literature does not match in
quality that produced in England during the same period.
When Americans began to write in larger numbers, there was at first close
adherence to English models. For a while it seemed as if American literature would be
only a feeble imitation of these models. Beginning in the eighteenth century, that started
to change and some colonial writing was considered to have merit in its own right. The
literature of England gained something from America as well. As early as the nineteenth
century, English critics, like John Addington Symonds, Robert Louis Stevenson, and
Edward Dowden, have testified to the power of the democratic element in American
literature and willingly admitted that without a study of Cooper, Poe, and Hawthorne no
one could give an adequate account of the landmarks of achievement in fiction written in
English. French critics too have always admired Poe. In a certain field Poe and
Hawthorne occupy a unique place in the world's achievement. Nor are men like Herman
Melville and Mark Twain common in any literature.
The New England colonies were the center of early American literature. The
revolutionary period contained political writings by Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin
and Thomas Paine. In the post-war period, Thomas Jefferson's United States Declaration
of Independence solidified his status as a key American writer. It was in the late 18th and
early 19th centuries that the nation's first novels were published .These fictions were too
lengthy to be printed as manuscript for public reading. Publishers took a chance on these
works in the hope they would become steady sellers and need to be reprinted. This was a

good bet as literacy rates soared in this period among both men and women. Among the
first American novels are Thomas Attwood Digges Adventures of Alonso published in
London in 1775 and William Hill Brown's The Power of Sympathy published in 1791.
Brown's novel depicts a tragic love story between siblings who fell in love without
knowing they were related. This epistolary novel belongs to the Sentimental novel
tradition, as do the two following.
In the next decade important women writers published their novels. Susanna
Rowson is best known for her novel, Charlotte: A Tale of Truth, published in London in
1791. In 1794 the novel was reissued in Philadelphia under the title, Charlotte Temple.
This book is a seduction tale, written in the third person, which warns against listening to
the voice of love and counsels resistance. In addition to this bestselling novel, she wrote
nine novels, six theatrical works, and two collections of poetry, six textbooks, and
countless songs. Reaching more than a million and a half readers over a century and a
half, Charlotte Temple was the biggest seller of the 19th century before Stowe's Uncle
Tom's Cabin. Although Rowson was extremely popular in her time and is often
acknowledged in the accounts of the development of the early American novel, Charlotte
Temple is often criticized as a sentimental novel of seduction.
Hannah Webster Foster's The Coquette: Or, the History of Eliza Wharton was
published in 1797 and was also extremely popular. Told from Foster's point of view and
based on the real life of Eliza Whitman, this epistolary novel is about a woman who is
seduced and abandoned. Eliza is a coquette who is courted by two very different men: a

clergyman who offers her the comfort and regularity of domestic life, and a noted
libertine. She fails to choose between them and finds herself single when both men get
married. She eventually yields to the artful libertine and gives birth to an illegitimate
stillborn child at an inn. The Coquette is praised for its demonstration of this era's
contradictory ideals of womanhood.
The Coquette and Charlotte Temple are treating the right of women to live as
equals as the new democratic experiment. These novels are of the Sentimental genre,
characterized by overindulgence in emotion, an invitation to listen to the voice of reason
against misleading passions, as well as an optimistic overemphasis on the essential
goodness of humanity. Sentimentalism is often thought to be a reaction against the
Calvinistic belief in the depravity of human nature. While many of these novels were
popular, the economic infrastructure of the time did not allow these writers to make a
living through their writing alone. Charles Brockden Brown is the earliest American
novelist whose works are still commonly read. He published Wieland in 1798, and
Ormond, Edgar Huntly, and Arthur Mervyn in 1799. These novels are of the Gothic
genre.
The War of 1812 and an increasing desire to produce uniquely American literature
and culture, a number of key new literary figures emerged, perhaps most prominently
Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe. In 1836, Ralph Waldo Emerson started a
movement known as Transcendentalism. Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden, which
urges resistance to the dictates of organized society. The political conflict surrounding

abolitionism inspired the writings of William Lloyd Garrison and Harriet Beecher Stowe
in her world-famous Uncle Tom's Cabin. These efforts were supported by the
continuation of the slave narrative autobiography, of which the best known example from
this period was Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an
American Slave.
Nathaniel Hawthorne is notable for his masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter, a novel
about adultery. Hawthorne influenced Herman Melville who is notable for the books
Moby-Dick and Billy Budd. America's two greatest nineteenth century poets were Walt
Whitman and Emily Dickinson . American poetry reached a peak in the early to mid
twentieth century, with such noted writers as Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost,
Ezra Pound, Hart Crane, and E. E. Cummings. Mark Twain the pen name used by Samuel
Langhorne Clemens, was the first major American writer to be born away from the East
Coast. Henry James was notable for novels like The Turn of the Screw. At the beginning
of the 20th century, American novelists included Edith Wharton , Stephen Crane ,
Theodore Dreiser , and Jack London . Experimentation in style and form is seen in the
works of Gertrude Stein .
The stories and novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald capture the mood of the 1920s, and
John Dos Passos wrote about the war. Ernest Hemingway became notable for The Sun
Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms. In 1954 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
William Faulkner is notable for novels like The Sound and the Fury. American drama
attained international status only in the 1920s and 1930s, with the works of Eugene

O'Neill, who won four Pulitzer Prizes and the Nobel Prize. In the middle of the 20th
century, American drama was dominated by the work of playwrights Tennessee Williams
and Arthur Miller, as well as by the maturation of the American musical.
Depression era writers included John Steinbeck notable for his novel The Grapes
of Wrath. Henry Miller assumed a unique place in American Literature in the 1930s when
his semi-autobiographical novels were banned from the US. From the end of World War
II up until, roughly, the late 1960s and early 1970s the publication of some of the most
popular works in American history such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
America's involvement in World War II influenced the creation of works such as Norman
Mailer's The Naked and the Dead in 1948, Joseph Heller's Catch-22 in 1961 and Kurt
Vonnegut Jr.'s Slaughterhouse-Five in 1969. John Updike was notable for his novel
Rabbit, Run 1960. Philip Roth explores Jewish identity in American society. American
literature developed along original lines and thus conveyed a message of its own to the
world are to be found in the changed environment and the varying problems and ideals of
American life. Even more important than the changed ways of earning a living and the
difference in climate, animals, and scenery were the struggles leading to the
Revolutionary War, the formation and guidance of the Republic, and the Civil War. All
these combined to give individuality to American thought and literature. From the early
1970s to the present day the most important literary movement has been postmodernism
and the flowering of literature by ethnic minority writers.

The most remarkable writer in American literature was Charles Frazier was born
on November 4, 1950, in Asheville, North Carolina. His father Charles was a high school
principal and his mother Betty, a librarian and school administrator. His parents taught
him to value literature and to learn the folklore and family history of the region. Frazier's
childhood was spent in the small western North Carolina towns of Andrews and Franklin,
but it was the mountain near his grandparents, Cold Mountain in Pisgah National Forest,
that gave him the title of his first novel.
He grew up in small neighboring towns and graduated from Franklin High
School in 1969 with a vague aspiration to teach literature. He did his B.A at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1973. Frazier completed his M.A at
Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina in 1975. Frazier married
Katherine in 1976. While he was pursuing a PhD at the University of South Carolina in
Colombia, he specialized in twentieth century American Literature and he completed his
first book Developing Communication skills for the Accounting Profession in 1980, a
practical business manual. After completing his doctorate, Fraizer accepted a teaching
position at the University of Colorado. His next book on his travels to South America,
Adventuring in the Andes; The Sierra club Travel Guide to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, the
Amazon Basin and the Galapagos Island, was published in 1958. In the same year his
daughter Annie was born.
In 1986 Fraizer and his wife moved back to North Carolina when he accepted a
teaching position at North Carolina State University. A year after his first fictional work,

a short story titled '' Licit Pursuits'' was published in the Kansas Quarterly. The North
Carolina landscape is an important element in the first novel, Cold Mountain. This novel
is his extensive research of the culture, history of his motherland, folklore, music, travel
guides and historical dairies.
Fraziers first novel, Cold Mountain is an historical novel published in 1997 by
Atlantic Monthly Press. When Frazier was only half finished with the book, he passed it
along to friend and novelist Kaye Gibbons, who then got it into the hands of her agent.
Much to his disbelief, Frazier's novel went on to become the smash sensation of the late
twentieth century. Winning countless laudatory reviews from publications throughout the
nation, Cold Mountain also became a must-read commercial smash. The novel, which
was Charles Frazier, first, became a major best-seller, selling roughly three million copies
worldwide. The novel won U.S National Award in 1997 and The Book Critics Circle
Award, Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the Sue Kauffman Prize for first fiction. In 1993 it
was adopted as a film of a same name Cold Mountain by Anthony Minghella. In 2003
Cold Mountain was turned into an award winning movie, starring Nicole Kidman, Jude
Law, and Renee Zellweger.
It traces the journey of Inman, a wounded deserter from the confederate army
near the end of the American Civil war. It follows his harrowing journey from deserting
the army to finding his way back to the women he left behind, Ada who waits for him.
She is a daughter of a preacher who has moved from Charleston, South Carolina to a
rural mountain community called Cold Mountain; the area Inman is from. Frazier's novel

vividly describes the natural scenery of the south and minor characters Inman and Ada
are the real symbols of struggling people toward the end of America's Civil War.
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same state or country,
between two countries created from a formerly united state. The aim of one side may be
to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region or to
change government policies. The Civil War is the central event in America's historical
consciousness. While the Revolution of 1776-1783 created the United States, the Civil
War of 1861-1865 determined what kind of nation it would be. The war resolved two
fundamental questions left unresolved by the revolution: whether the United States was to
be a dissolvable confederation of sovereign states or an indivisible nation with a
sovereign national government; and whether this nation, born of a declaration that all
men were created with an equal right to liberty, would continue to exist as the largest
slaveholding country in the world. Northern victory in the war preserved the United
States as one nation and ended the institution of slavery that had divided the country from
its beginning. But these achievements came at the cost of 625,000 lives nearly as many
American soldiers also died in all the other wars in which this country had fought
combined. The American Civil War was the largest and most destructive conflict in the
Western world between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the onset of World
War I in 1914.
The novel Cold Mountain is about the reunion of lovers. The narrative alternates
between Inman's story of his hard journey to home and Ada's story of a journey from a

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young, impractical woman into a more independent woman, the true nature of the
relationship between the two unfolds, dealing with all kinds of hardships. The power of
Ada and Inman's love, and their dedication to reuniting, is the driving force of the novel,
along with Frazier's incorporation of historical context. The work is rich in the culture
and sensibility of the North Carolina Mountains and is based on local history and stories
handed down by Fraziers great uncle William Pinkney Inman.
Cold Mountain neither glorifies nor romanticizes the Civil War but shows its
impact and meaning for the ordinary people who fought and endured it. This is human
history at the ground level, how it appeared to those at the bottom of the economic and
social ladder and also Frazier shows how lives of soldiers and of civilians alike deepen
and are transformed as a direct consequence of the war's tragedy. Fraziers characters are
mostly poor whites seeking to find some values by which to live, some principles in
which to believe, something to give their lives meaning in these turbulent times. Frazier
cleverly divides the narrative between Inman's trek and Ada's story as she struggles to
make due in the wake of her father's death and the absence of her love.
Frazier's second novel, Thirteen Moons is an historical novel published in
October 2006. Thirteen Moons depicts the social and political climate preceding and
following the Cherokee Removal from the ancestral homeland of the Cherokee Nation in
what is today Western North Carolina. It traces the story of one white man's involvement
with the Cherokee Indians just before, during and after their removal to Oklahoma. It is a
story of struggle and triumph against the emerging U.S governments plan to remove

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native Cherokee people to Oklahoma. The novel brings together both this dramatic part
of Cherokee and American history and the civil war and its aftermath .this book was later
translated into Cherokee elders and scholars to bring authenticity to that project. In 2008,
he received the North Carolina Award for literature.
The Cherokee Indians were one of the largest of five Native American tribes
who settled in American Southeast portion of the country. The tribes came from
Iroquoian descent. They had originally been from the Great Lakes region of the country,
but eventually settled closer to the east coast. Despite popular folklore, the Cherokee
actually lived in cabins made of logs. They were a strong tribe with several smaller
sections, all lead by chiefs. The tribe was highly religious and spiritual. When the
American Revolution took place, the Cherokee Indians supported the British Soldiers,
and even assisted them in battle by taking part in several attacks. The creek and Choctaw
tribes also assisted in the battles on the British side. Eventually around the 1800, the
Cherokee Indians began to adopt the culture that the white man brought to them. They
began to dress like Europeans and even adopted many of their farming and building
methods. In 1828, gold was discovered on the Cherokees land. This prompted the
overtaking of their homes, and they were forced out. They had been settled in Georgia for
many years, but were now being made to leave and find a new place to settle. This is the
origin for the historically popular Trail of Tears, where men, women, and children had to
pack up their belongings and find new homes, marching a span of thousands of miles.
When all was said and done, about four thousand Cherokee lost their lives on the journey.

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Today, the Cherokee Indians have a strong sense of pride in their heritage. The Cherokee
rose is now the state flower of Georgia .The largest population of Cherokee Indians lives
in the state of Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has around 300,000 tribal
members, making it the largest federal recognized tribes in the United States, where there
are three federally recognized Cherokee communities with thousands of residents.
Thirteen Moons returns to a 19th century setting, twelve years old Will
Cooper is quite a different protagonist from Inman. With only a horse, a key, and a map,
the boy is prodded into Indian country with the mission of running a trading post. In this
dangerous environment, Will learns to empathize with the Cherokees, who open his mind
to a much broader world than he had ever seen before. Will was sold into indentured
servitude, and he travels alone to the edges of a growing United States of America and of
the Cherokee Nation in order to manage a trading post. On the way to the trading post he
suffers many misadventures and ends up losing his horse which is his only means of
transportation. In tracking down his beloved horse Waverley he happens upon the
formidable Featherstone, a renowned horse thief who Will beats at a game of chance
which amounts to a large sum of money.
Featherstone demands that Will Cooper give him a final chance to recoup all the
money in a final hand against a girl that Featherstone claims to have many of. Will wins
the girl and when he meets Claire, eleven years old, he instantly falls in love with her;
however Featherstone is a bad loser and sends him running for his life into the
wilderness. After some days of wandering Will stumbles upon the trading post. There,

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Will demonstrates, along with optimistic fatalism, an aptitude for entrepreneurship. He


quickly learns to speak Cherokee, the language of many of his customers, he manages to
communicate and trade with them. When he is sixteen the owner of the trading post dies
and his son sells the business to Will. His financial success allows him to build a small
library there.
He has been befriended by the local Cherokee chief named Bear who adopts him
as a son and he is adopted into the tribe as well. Will meets Claire for the second time at a
party Bear hosts when she is 16. He comes across Cranshaw, where Claire is part of
Featherstone's household, presumably his daughter. Featherstone brazened out his
sentence of forfeiture which should have taken place after he murdered a member of
another tribal group. He returns frequently to visit Claire and borrow books from
Featherstone, who still has extra aces up his sleeves, but grudgingly accepts and
eventually also adopts him.
As years go by, Will grows more and more attached to Claire and they
consummate their affection after a long process of courtship, spending two romantic
summers together. However, Will finds out that Claire is Featherstone's wife, not
daughter, as she had been thrown into the deal when he married her older sister. Coupled
with the fact that a white man cannot legally marry a mixed blood in the state and Claire's
insistence on 'all or nothing' they never become fully wed. He has also had a duel with
Featherstone, who never seems able to leave Will's horse alone.

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Will and his father Bear have been conspiring to legally buy the land occupied
by the Cherokee Nation. Will takes up their cause and lobbies at the nation's capital,
arguing for the tribe's legal land rights and for a while is partly successful at keeping a
large portion of the land for his tribes exclusive use. He had somewhat become drugged
by his legal reading into over-complexity in the transactions and the portion gets
drastically reduced. Eventually, however, the army comes in, displaces almost the whole
of the Cherokee nation and forces them to the plains beyond their traditional home in the
coves cut from the mountains; Claire is forced to move away. He visits her sometime
later, but she is unenthused at his visit and has since had a child with Featherstone.
Featherstone tells Will that he died and came back to life, and is determined to make his
second death one of much more phenomenal proportions.
Devastated by the loss of his love on top of the miseries his friends have
suffered along the Trail of Tears, some self-conscious attempts to find another partner and
finally the traumas he himself witnessed while fighting in the American Civil War, Will
departs from his only home and wanders in the nation aimlessly.
Will's final encounter with Claire takes place at the Warm Springs Hotel, when
both are in their fifties. Will hears talk of a Woman in Black who keeps herself aloof from
the other hotel residents and remains in the mourning black from the death of her
husband long ago. He comes across her one afternoon after being knife-cut by the
collectors of someone to whom he owes money. She informs him that Featherstone's final
death was hardly more dramatic than the first, and that her child has died as well. The

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pair spends another summer together, during which time Claire rejects a marriage
proposal from Will and decides to leave him again. After more years, Will retires to a
lonely home following a deal with the railroad built on a tract of land which he had
owned. The novel ends in elegy for lost opportunities, the frontier spirit, and the memory
of the native people.
Fraziers third novel Nightwoods, set in 1960s North Carolina, was published in
2011. Its heroine is Luce, a woman suddenly responsible for her murdered sisters
children while a caretaker for an aging Appalachian lodge. Luce and Luces sister Lily
both were blessed with disinterested parents as ill-prepared for raising children as John
Updikes Harry and Janice Angstrom. After an encounter with the darker side of small
town life, Luce swears off her lawman father, Lit, and takes a job as caretaker for a
secluded summer lodge where she lives alone, until a social worker drops off Luces
sisters children. Lilys husband Buddy killed her, her kids saw the whole thing. Now
they were terrified of people, mesmerized by fire, and a danger to animals everywhere.
Luces status quo is further threatened by the death of the lodges owner, whose beatnik
grandson, Stubblefield, arrives to survey his new holdings. Like Cold Mountains Inman,
he goes by his surname and has been carrying a torch for a brainy girl who never seemed
to know her own attraction. Like Ada, Luce sees verbal sparring as a way to weed out
unsuitable suitors. Together, they begin an uneasy courtship before Bud comes calling for
a pile of money he suspects the children of having.

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Buddys hell rising with Lit has a disturbing Denis Johnson amorality, and
though his apocalyptic visions are sometimes more hokey than horrifying, hes an
intriguing villain, as much consumed with self-doubt as thoughts of revenge. The other
characters have less to recommend them, and some, like Luces mother, are too briefly
sketched to warrant sympathy or interest. And Stubblefield and Luces romance which
apparently rests on bedrock of music references and a sliver of shared history is
unconvincing and off-putting.
Night woods, the language is still full of pungent Southernisms, and Frazier is
still an undeniably good sermonizer. Buddys dark musings on hot-blooded murder as it
relates to deferred gratification are persuasive arguments for Frazier as a stylist above all
else. It conjures the untamed land of southern Appalachia with a natives unsparing love
and wary respect. Although this novel is set in the early 1960s not the 19th century like
its predecessors it too recounts both a love story and a story of survival and endurance.
Each of its central characters has reached a point in life where resignation or weariness or
anger has replaced hope, where the awful daily life of existence has become challenge
enough.
Frazier displays a keen psychological understanding of their characters such as
fears and desires, and their driving impulse to keep themselves safe, at any cost. Drawing
upon his intimate knowledge of the North Carolina woods and mountains, he shows how
Luce tries to teach the twins about the world of nature that surrounds them in a day-today reality, offering Luce the slender hope that they might one day be healed, or if not

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healed, at least made well enough to avoid inflicting damage on themselves or others.
When she is suddenly responsible for two children those who have been put in her care of
twins born to her sister, Lily, who was killed by her violent husband, Bud. The twins,
Dolores and Frank, were horribly abused by Bud, and though capable of speech, they
have pretty much stopped talking. They are also given to brooding violence: they were
killed several chickens and display a dangerous fascination with fire. Fraziers prose
grows even more ominous and purple when he turns to focus on Bud, who often seems
like an exile blood-maddened, nihilistic creatures on a rampage, leaving death and
destruction everywhere in his wake.
After Lilys murder, Bud has been stalking the two children, who were witnesses
to their mothers killing. He has a violent confrontation with Luce and Stubblefield,
breaks into the hotel in search of money he is convinced that Lily kept from him, and he
kills Luce and Lilys father. Frazier depiction of Luce, struggles to overcome the past and
to forge new lives for themselves.
Frazier currently resides on a farm near Raleigh, North Carolina, with
his wife, Katherine and their daughter Annie and continues to write and raise show
horses. He is currently finishing his fourth novel which is inspired by the life of Varina
Howell Davis, the second wife of Jefferson Davis.