The Dilemma of Existence in the Nuclear Age: Four Views
Schmitt, Edward L.
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SubjectNuclear warfare--Moral and ethical aspects.; Nuclear warfare in literature--Criticism and interpretation.
The problem. The United States' use of the atom bomb in 1945 marks the beginning of a definite trend in American literature. Since that time, many writers have dealt with the questions of man's purpose and position in the universe and the existence and nature of God. Procedure. The introduction of the thesis traces earlier dealings with the basic issue while the body includes analyses of four post-World War II American novels. Wise Blood, by Flannery O·Connor; Lie Down in Darkness, by William Styron; The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; and The Martyred, by Richard Kim. Findings. The novels approach the problem from various positions: theism, existentialism, black humor, and humanism. They deal with six common themes: war, God, human relationships, love, truth, and personal sacrifice. Conclusions. The central message of each of the four novels is optimistic. Although circumstances lead man near despair, he can find meaning in life.