Adrienne Rich

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How do the themes in Fitzgerald's "May Day" and Rich's Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying conform to their respective literary movements?

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F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story "May Day" centers around a historical riot that took place on May Day in 1919. The riot took place in Cleveland, Ohio, and was led by Socialist Eugene V. Debs. Debs was a true fan of Karl Marx and of socialism. Similar to Karl Marx, Fitzgerald's short story portrays the social issue of division of wealth. Fitzgerald especially refers to the "throwbacks" of society. The term throwbacks is generally understood as referring to individuals who are stuck in an earlier, or antiquated time. In "May Day," "throwbacks" essentially refers to the underprivileged who have not progressed with the growing privileged class. The existence of the "throwbacks" of society is especially portrayed in characters like Gus Rose, a serviceman no longer on duty, who went out looking for alcohol, which was illegal for servicemen to buy. Accompanied by Carrol Key, they go to George Key, Carrol's brother, who is a waiter at Delmonico's where students at Yale are also spending their time. The division in social class between Rose the serviceman and the Yale students becomes very apparent when George hides Rose and his sister in the closet to bring them their drinks. Peter Himmel, an undergraduate at Yale, eventually notices them and, drunk, toasts them with, "We're all Americans! Have another." The painful irony Fitzgerald is trying to convey is that, due to social divisions, not all, like Rose the serviceman, are being treated with equality as "all Americans" should be. Hence, a central theme in "May Day" is social divisions.

Fitzgerald is known for writing under the literary movement referred to as the Lost Generation. The Lost Generation refers to artists like Hemingway and Stein who chose to live in Europe after World War I. Specifically, it refers to the fact that after all of the chaos and destruction of the war, they failed to find any further meaning in life. They rebelled against "established social, sexual, and aesthetic conventions" and tried to "establish new values" ("The Lost Generation and After"). Since the central theme in "May Day" portrays all of the evils associated with social division and even asserts that socialism is better than democracy, we can easily see that the theme in "May Day" fits the Lost Generation literary movement because it criticizes social norms and even tries to establish a new social norm.

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