Explain which literary period belongs to each of the following works:

  • "Facing It" by Yusef Komunyakaa
  • "America" by Claude McKay
  • "No Name Woman" by Maxine Hong Kingston
  • "The Witness for the Prosecution" by Agatha Christie
  • "Marriage Is a Private Affair" by Chinua Achebe

Expert Answers

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The key to completing this assignment is to understand the characteristics of the various literary periods, at least in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, so let's begin by looking at some of those.

Realism is a response to the subjectivity of the Romantic period, and it provides an attempt to look at life as it is in its contemporary form. Naturalism took this a bit further by focusing on the social and environmental struggles that help to shape human beings. Modernism tends to concentrate on alienation, the destruction of culture and society, and the nature of change as well as absurdity, experimentation, and the denial of truth. Postmodernism is all about randomness and fragmentation, irony and wordplay, the rejection of meaning, disillusionment, and the relationships between texts.

Now let's see how these works of literature fit into these periods, keeping in mind that often literary works exhibit the features of more than one period. “Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa is largely postmodern in is disillusionment and play with forms and structures and meanings. Claude McKay's “America,” however, is more modernist in its focus on cultural destruction.

“No Name Woman” by Maxine Hong Kingston best falls under postmodernism (with some modernist elements), with its focus on alienation and also on meaning and on story as a tool for searching. Agatha Christie's “The Witness for the Prosecution” is realistic and rather naturalistic in its dealings with the darkness of humanity. Chinua Achebe's “Marriage is a Private Affair” takes a modernist turn as it explores the destruction of a culture and alienation in relationships.

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