American Writers And The SaccoVanzetti Case — страница 10

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The anarchists` alibis for the robbery were supported only by their fellow countrymen; by contrast, another accused man, Orciani, "had been able to produce an American alibi … he could produce his boss and several other `white men` to swear he had been at his machine all day" (B, 237). The "white" jurors are also unsympathetic to the Italians: One by one the jurors were selected; Arthur W. Burgess, shoemaker of the town of Hanson, Henry S. Burgess, caretaker of the town of Wareham, Joseph Frawley, shoe-finisher of the town of Brockton, Charles A. Gale, clerk, of the town of Norwell–so it went, all Anglo-Saxon names…such little people of the old stock, having failed for one reason or another to become rich, looked with bitter contempt upon the immigrants

who came pouring into the country, to beat down wages and make life harder for the "white men" of New England. Far from having any sense of class solidarity, they clung to the American idea that their children would rise and join the leisure class; their attitude to the Italian was that of the poor whites of the south to the Negroes. "All these wops stand together," said one juryman to another, discussing the case at lunch in a restaurant. (B, 251) While the jurors cherish the American dream of unlimited upward mobility, the judge of the Sacco-Vanzetti case is tormented by awareness of the limits of that mobility. Sinclair sees class anxiety at work in the unjudicial behavior of Judge Web Thayer, who publically expressed animosity toward the anarchists while

the case was before him ("Did you see what I did to those anarchistic bastards?"); Thayer did not come from a "blue-blood" family, lived in Worcester, not the Back Bay, and had attended Dartmouth instead of Harvard (B, 249-50). As a member of the class to which Thayer vainly aspires, Cornelia Thornwell recognizes Thayer`s "inferiority complex, a sense of the gulf which yawned between him and the great ones of his community, and which he would never cross, even though he won his way to the Supreme Judicial Bench" (B, 249). While the women of Sinclair`s Boston are fluid, able to transgress class boundaries, the men are fixed in place by anxiety over racial, economic, or social status. In true anarchist fashion Boston argues that capitalism and the

state are the chief practitioners of violence; the villains are either bankers and factory magnates, like Cornelia`s Brahmin in-laws, or state officials, like Governor Fuller and Judge Thayer. Having researched all the shady aspects of the case, Sinclair presents in detail the manipulations and deceptions of those in power. While Sacco and Vanzetti express the views of workers and anarchists, Cornelia`s function in the novel is to articulate from "inside" criticisms of privilege, prejudices, and court procedure; her high social standing allows her access to the powerful historical figures of the case, whom she confronts. Sinclair’s only modernist strategy is that of juxtaposition: contrasting scenes for ironic effect. He even collected funds to send signed copies of

Boston to as many university libraries as possible. Public access to the information he accumulated for the novel was part of his reason for writing it. Like Upton Sinclair, John Dos Passos was active in the protests against the conviction and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. His politically engaged U.S.A. trilogy and Manhattan Transfer differ from novels like Ulysses and To the Lighthouse in that they incorporate the "stream of consciousness" of the public sphere as well as that of individual subjectivity. Following Malcolm Cowley, Granville Hicks, and Isidor Schneider, Barbara Foley takes the three volumes of U.S.A. as examples of the "collective novel," formally modernist but ideologically an offspring of proletarian fiction, which in turn has its origins

in the "liberal critical realist tradition … of Bleak House, Middlemarch, and A Hazard of New Fortunes." [31] As a modernist, Dos Passos was inspired by European and American painting, notably the socially critical work of the German Expressionist Georg Grosz, and Futurist painting, like the dynamic urban scenes of Boccioni.[32] He also admired the films of D. W. Griffith and Serge Eisenstein, from whom he appropriated for fiction the concept of montage.[33] His adaptations of new techniques in painting and film included "The Camera Eye," the function of which is to give the position of the observer; the Newsreel, which represents media voices–headlines, advertisements, popular songs; and narrative "portraits" of historical figures like Frank