Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Identify the criticisms frequently made of Erskine Caldwell’s work in the 1930’s. Are any of them based on common obsessions of the time and might well be judged unfair from today’s perspective?

What character traits of Jeeter Lester in Tobacco Road help make him an acceptable protagonist despite his many serious faults?

What themes in Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre most clearly mark them as Depression-era novels?

What distinctively southern attitudes and values permeate Caldwell’s fiction?

Caldwell is reputed to possess a “comic vision.” Is a comic vision more than merely seeing “the funny side of life”? Does it require happy endings? What do you think is the essence of a comic vision?