|UFDC Home||myUFDC Home | Help|
This item has the following downloads:
1 OF EDWARD BELLAMY, WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS, AND CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN By MICHELE LESURE A T HESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTI AL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011
2 2011 Michele LeSure
3 To my committee for their unfailing guidance and support to see me through this challenging process, as well as to my fami ly for their unerring love and patience
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Many thanks to Jodi Schorb and Phil Wegner for the care and concern they showed as I struggled to complete this significant milestone in my academic career. Doctor Jodi Schorb has stood by me as I pursued advance degree work and will always remain a dear friend to whom I am eternally indebted. The opportunity to study under Doctor Phil Wegner has been a major goal academically since beginning my undergraduate residency at the University of Flori da; to have the additional benefit of his vast experience and knowledge of the utopian genre has been more than I could hope for in the completion of this work.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 6 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 8 2 EDWARD BELLAMY AND LOOKING BACKWARD ................................ ............... 16 3 WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS AND THE ALTRURIAN ROMANCES ........................ 29 4 CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN AND MOVING THE MOUNTAIN ...................... 44 5 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 56 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 61
6 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Flori da in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts ALTRURIA MUST COME TO YOU: OF EDWARD BELLAMY, WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS, AND CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN By Michele LeSure D ecember 2011 Chair: Jodi Schorb Cochair: Phil Wegner Major: E nglish The nineteenth century saw a huge influx of immigrants to the United States as the Industrial Revolution created a demand for more factory workers. By the tim e Looking Backwards by Edward Bellamy was published, the topic of immigration had become a sensitive topic among those Americans who saw themselves as true citizens, a part from the new faces from Europe, and who chose to blame these populations for the th eir own declining economic fortunes. It is then both troubling and unsurprising that Bellamy, the father of the American Utopian Literature movement, would shy away from the topic in his famous bestseller that describes an American Utopia in the twenty fi rst century. This thesis explores how the subject of immigrants and immigration is handled in three American Utopian novels between 1887 and 1911, and shows how the subject b problem, William Dean Howells addresses the issue to his audience using his utopian protagonist, Aristedes Homos, as a foil to develop a sympathetic view of the immigran t as misunderstood; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in the first of three utopian novels she
7 would eventually write, addresses the issue with more concentration but tends to rely on imagery that falls back on stereotypical racist ideas that immigrants must be ci vilized before they are allowed to be in the United States. This last point finds a connection only on the popular imagination during this time, but the many facets of the immigration issue with which Americans struggled
8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION It would be easy to select specific passages from the utopian literature to prove that the authors were racists, but it would only be a bit more difficult to pick out humane comments on ethnic and racial problems. Possibly the only reasonable conclusion is that certain groups were more adept at articulating the prejudices shared by most white, native Americans. Whatever the truth behind this unanswerable controversy is, the utopian w orks do reveal that it was very difficult for middle and upper middle class reformers to conceive of ideal individuals whose ethnic and racial backgrounds deviated from their own white, Protestant heritage. Instead of trying to adapt to the increasing di imagining a pluralistic utopia, they recoiled and hoped for homogeneity -Kenneth Roemer, The Obsolete Necessity century utopian novels, The Obsolete Necessity: America in U topian Writings, 1888 1900 he observes, like many other writers o n American utopian novels, that the anxiety among middle and upper class white people about the influx of immigrants, who wanted to take advantage of the burgeoning industrial sector, is par (that comprise the utopian genre of the nineteenth century) in defining the most comforting American image for its readers The imagery in American utopias goes to the heart of an important way of thinking consuming issues among Americans especially towards the end of the nineteenth century, as labor became more conscious of the inequities in the capitalist system that had developed out of heavy industrialization. This unease seeped into the American psyche and morphed into two distinct movements; Nativism, which held that only original immigrants to America were to be considered citizens and therefore part of the
9 nati onal makeup, and Populism which, while allying most closely to progressive reforms, filtered many nativist ideals especial 1 These two movements eventually evolved into Nationalism in th e last decade of the nineteenth century with the publication of Looking Backward: 2000 1887 in 1887 Nationalism, st rictly defined for the purposes of this work, is the movement of middle class men and women to guide the changing socioeconomic landscape in which they found themselves at the close of the 19 th century; in their zeal to recreate the future America of Looki ng Backwards, however, they neglected to address such critical issues as immigration and discrimination. The Civil War, followed by economic depressions and the rising tide of immigrants to America, was a shock to the bewildered middle class for whom chan ge was coming too rapidly; as they saw the influx of immigrants working in manufacturing, they simultaneously saw many small industries get absorbed by larger companies, and it is easy to see the anxiety this would cause. This moment in history was ripe f or change, Looking Backward tipped off a renaissance of American utopian fiction in the last decade of the nineteenth century; Looking Backward also inspired the Nationalist movement of middle class Americans to consider the import of the utopian ideals Bellamy develops in his novel ; its influence resonated among the many imitators who rose up to accept the challenge of echoing the utopian spirit to be f ound in the American landscape. Over its short lifespan (approximately 20 years), t he Nationalist movement would create a completely new, nuanced way of looking at what it means to be an American in this nation called the United States; many of these newly minted nationalist ideals, however, would continue to develop throughout the first half of the
10 twentieth century with the New Deal and the call for a national healthcare system (that would eventually become Medicare) that would benefit the most vulnerable Americans. This new way of looking at capitalism and social reforms, then, drew a crowd of admirers and imitators. At the height of its popularity in 1891, there were 165 Bellamy Nationalist clubs; from this group of mostly middle class members two other writers would be inspired to reflect the values Bellamy had developed in Looking Ba ckward Charlotte Perkins Gilman and William Dean Howells. 2 As we shall see, each contribution from Looking Backward The Traveler From Altruria and Moving the Mountain reflects the intensity of debate at that time about what constitutes American citizen ship, and where immigrants fit within the matrix of American social life. Middle class values are at the heart of each of these attempts at defining citizenship and each reflects not only a different philosophy born out of this flow between Nati vism, Populism, and Nationalism, but also echoes the concerns of immigrant sentiment, e ach narrative perpetuat es a middle class stance in alignment with the times, pandering to the middle class, and at times softening, the issue of immigration before its audience. So, while I agree with the Roemer quote at the le and upper middle class reformers writers kept their heads down and hoped for the best really only applies to Bellamy, the most evasive of the three writers, in terms of imagining and representing an ethnically sometimes
11 explicitly, often more subtly with middle class sentiments regarding immigration in their utopian texts. Charlotte Perkins Gil man and William Dean Howells were both involved in the Nationalist movement and were early fans of Looking Backward By looking at their own contributions to American utopian fiction and placing these texts alongside Looking Backward we can see how the q uestion of immigrants and their role within the United States, by no me ans a lightly taken subject within American culture at this time, transformed and developed over the course of less than 40 years. All of them appealed to their middle class audiences in different ways, and these fictional conceits reflect the intensity and variation of the arguments over the immigration question that took place within this period of time. Bellamy concentrates almost exclusively on the issue of the whi ch he answers through several discussions between the protagonist Julian West and Dr. Leete, the twenty first century American utopian; as a result, he ignores the issue of immigration. William Dean s own treatment of immigrants within The Altruri an Romances on the other hand, is more expansive and progressive but still pandering to the anxiousness of the middle class who, by this time, were beginning to reject the influx of immigrants because of the unstable economy of that time, marked as it was by two depressions (one from 1883 1886 and the other from 1893 1997). Howells chose to root his utopia in another place but still reflected the deficits in American democracy regarding the working and immigrant classes by placing it alongside the island of Altruria ; his use of immigrants from the more easily assimilated Western, rather than the controversial Southern, Europe is the compromise he makes with his audience Charlotte Perkins Gilman shows probably the most explicit treatment
12 of immigrants wit hin a n utopian world view ; in her lesser known utopia, Moving the Mountain Gilman, for better or worse, is fully cognizant by this time of the popular thought about immigrants and applies her own Nationalistic spin to how they would be 3 All three authors struggle in more or less the same way, however, in finding the context in which to express or assuage middle class anxiety towards immigrants in each of their work s. In order to understand the progression to the Nationalist consciousness that Looking Backward developed in the middle class during this time, it is important to first look at the continuum of ideology in America, from its early beginnings. The National ist movement that sprang from mass appeal of the public for Looking Backward carries in its own DNA strains of Nativism, Populism, and an undercurrent of Socialism. All three share in common the need for a group of individuals to identify with similar and like minded people to propose various methods and ideologies with which to define themselves and their shared belief in what American characteristics are most strongly desired in the United States. The difference lies in the aims of these movements; whi le Nativists sought to define their Anglo Saxon heritage as the most important feature that demanded priority, by virtue of the fact that they had settled in the country earlier than the new immigrants, Populists were willing to blame an immigrant influx a s the main causes of the downturn in economic security in the last decades of the nineteenth century and the question of citizenship was a convenient narrative with which to criticize continued immigration ; Nationalists also defined themselves in terms of citizenship but their ideology did not entirely exclude foreign entities they just wanted to make sure
13 every citizen of the United States was as homogenous as they were (Hofstadter 177) Nativism implied an ideological hatred of the Other wi th targeted co nvenient specific groups at various points (e.g. Irish Catholics, Italians); Richard Hofstadter sums up the parallels between nativism and populism when he says that the conspiratorial and and suspicion of the 82). Populists, on the other hand, while still naming specifically the threat of immigrants to the fortunes of the middle and working class Americans were more concerned about the secret network of oligarchical interests, at home and abroad, that were conspiring to usurp the privileged status of white Anglo Saxons; Nationalists, to round out this triumvirate, were just as anxious as the other two ideologies about the influx of immigrants, but as a reform movement were working more towards inclusivity and fundamental changes in societal structure rather than defeating bogeymen such as other ethnic groups and a large but invisible conspiracy In other words, Nationalism became the mediator for an anxious middle class that rejected the overt raci sm of nativists and the working class conspiracies of the Populists, but were willing to co values (along with a muted socialism) to intellectualize social problems such as immigration in a way that was more palatable to an educated middle class. Looking Bac kward then in articles he wrote for The Nationalist magazine, revolved around a tendency for collectivism to develop within capitalist structures (Li pow 83), although Bellamy denied that this philosophy was akin to socialism even as the publication of Look ing Backward
14 reading of Edward Bellamy as social reformer, one gets the sense that he was genuinely disgusted with the state of the American system with its disproportiona te wealth distribution and the mistreatment and denigration of the workers; it may be more just a matter of an ingrained instinct among moderate to conservative white collar workers to react apolitically to these perceived injustices, and somehow through f orce of will create collective action without making any effort to organize (because that would be too socialistic and therefore political). Looking Backward can be seen, then, as an honest attempt at creating a middle class utopia within the comfort and ease of an authoritarian framework; in other words, the state would provide the structure and security that is lacking in the last half of the nineteenth century in America. Yet, even as Looking Backward makes many propositions as to how America can advan ce, Bellamy avoids a tangible discussion of immigrant labor, instead pushing it aside, or at least forestalling the topic, to continue the conversation about the technological utopia he develops for the twenty first century of his utopian America If one reads Looking Backward with this focus it is apparent that he placates his audience with nuanced reforms for a resurgent transcendence of the middle class and at the same time avoids the issue of immigration altogether, again to assuage the anxieties of hi s readership. Notes 1 I refer you to R American ideologies and their association with Nationalism; Hofstadter himself observes that in the books de of its significant provincialism; little has been said of its relations with nativism and nationalism; nothing has been said of its tincture of anti
15 2 Arthur Lipow, in Authoritarian Socialism in America: Edward Bellamy & the Nationalist Movement states that the Nationalist movement that sprang up shortly after publication of Looking Backward with the first however, this movement had al The Utopian Novel in America, 1886 1896: The Politics of Form Jean Pfaelzer implies that the height of the movement took place in 1 894 with 140 chapters (41). 3 This refers to the preface to Moving the Mountain of the Charlton Co. Edition published in1911; the The Forerunner
16 CHAPTER 2 EDWARD BELLAMY AND LOOKING BACKWARD When Edward Bellamy published Looking Backward in 1887, the American nineteenth century had already passed through the Civil War, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution as well two disastrou s depressions. 1 Bellamy, as many in the middle class, w as worried not only for the future of the small businessman in the flux of the changing industrial landscape; industrialists and industries had become voracious hunters, swallowing smaller concerns int o the larger monopoly of formerly small trades, such as printing and manufacturing. Worker unrest also deeply troubled Bellamy as protests, and sometimes violent, confrontations became de rigueur in the national news (the Great Railroad Strikes of 1877 is the most prominent example) At this point, immigration from southern Europe had grown exponentially with the rise of industrialism in the states; this was also a cause for anxiety by an already anxious middle class who felt their formerly secure spot at or near the top of the economic food chain suddenly become less certain. A analogy which figures prominently in the beginning of Looking Backward and which zes the inequality of the wealthy riders and the human 2 The Coach analogy, as explained by the main protagonist Julian West, sums up this anxiety of the middle and upper middle classes at this time, and also shows great insig ht and empathy for the workers struggling for better classes are allowed to sit on top of the c oach where they are above the dust and toil,
17 even though these seats themselves are unstable and anyone can lose their seat. West concludes by saying that he, as all people allowed to sit at the top, are under a mass hallucination that allows them to rati onalize that they are different from the toiling masses below and therefore deserving of their high station. While the coach analogy analogy offers no further clues as to who these workers are and, more specifically, their ethnicity. While Looking Backward touched off a renaissance of the utopian form in a still is difficult to decipher as Bellamy makes little or no reference to something that was indeed on forefront of the national consciousness. By 1890, the number of foreign born people living in urban areas was almost three times the number of native whites, hometown of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts this could not have been missed. 3 Bellamy, at the time Looking Backward s publication, was well aware of the unrest of the labor movements in the United States; t he end of the Civil War had brought tumultuous changes to the order of industry, and with the exception of two depressions in the late nineteenth century, the industrial revolution had taken hold in America and provided opportunities to many different soci al strata. It is not surprising, then, that when the influx of immigrants around this time (it peaked at the turn of the century, before the Immigration Act of 1924) it would bring with it a fear of the O ther. Bellamy was sensible to this prejudice agai nst workers who were more often than not immigrants : t he Haymarket riot of 1886 minds when Looking Backward was published in 1887 4 Despite the influx of
18 immigrants at the time of its composition, of 2000, however, rarely mentions immigrants and immigration is barely even mentioned throughout the entire Looking Backward ; he really is a big picture man in rendering a peaceful America i n the 21 st century Bellamy changes the very conception of how labor is produced and who labors in this utopia and all within a very short period of time. This is part of the appeal of Looking Backward ; it makes a sweeping change in the interim of less th an two hundred years that most readers found entirely plausible. 5 His silence on immigration also has to do, however, with presenting change to his readership that would be wondrous and productive rather than scary and foreign; this would require some ver y light touches to sensitive topics like immigration. All of this change happens quite painlessly, and Bellamy explains how America is reborn as a peaceful and abundant country in the interim of the less than two hundred years during which West slumbers. st century, explains this 6 In other words, the government became the one great trust that worked to bring about a bloodless, painles s revolution to end the monopolies of huge corporations; now, every citizen wo uld be well taken care of by means of one large system of equal share in the profits of labor. The fact that this sounds like socialism has not escaped critics; Robert Shurter c laims that it is closer to the system outlined in Cooperative Commonwealth which heavily influenced social reformers like Bellamy (143). Socialism, however, was a taboo subject among Americans in the late nineteenth century and Bella my himself was loathe to connect his
19 Boston of the twenty first century to a socialist utopia. As Arthur Lipow notes, Bellamy suggests the red flag and all manner of sexual novelties, and an abusive tone about (quoted in Lipow, 22) French reformers may choose to call themselves, socialist is not a good name for a Lipow, 22 ) 7 its associations of foreign influence was a label Bellamy was sure would not go over well at all with his constitutive readershi p. Darko Suvin notes rightly this distanc ing as an alienating tone in an otherwise libertarian idealism; Suvin makes the distinction that will discuss momentarily), alon 8 For the most part, in ectly addresses the insecurities of the educated classes who 9 The fear of using the word that ultimately makes the novel so appealing to, and widely popular among, the middle class. Whether or not addressing these insecurities in the narrative of Looking Backward ideas of N ationalism while at the same time providing a reassuring underlying message that the environment of twenty first century Boston will be entirely different and more
20 amenable to all American citizens than the nineteenth century at present. Bellamy does this in a couple of different ways; he sublimates all references to workers by speaking of n of immigrants and unrest by foreign peoples, while also creating a narrative that both advances his utopian ideas in an appealing format while laying none of the blame on immigrant laborers, or even mentioning restive elements in the popular American ima gination; if he talks about labor strikes it is only as an example of the present and then everything else is all historical water under the bridge from the vantage point of the twenty first century in other words, looking backwards. stance where he talks about masses (using the word as code for foreign and/or working class) is in the C oach analogy at the beginning, where he states unfortunate accident co were harnessed to the coach and made to pull it up steep and sandy hills (3 6). There is no mistaking the sympathies Bellamy expresses in this example, but in the middle class coding of Looking Backward it is eas ier to see who had the good seats on the coach than precisely who Bellamy had in mind as Just whom to embrace controversial S outhern and Western European immigrants in his Mary Esteve, in The Aesthetics and Politics of the Crowd in American Literature astutely analyzes the crowds depicted by authors such as Hawthorne, Crane and
21 Jame s and shows that crowds have symbolized different populations of immigrant or working class people in America over time; Bellamy would have been aware that the masses and crowds in literature at this time are symbolic of the first and second immigration wa ves to America and he is early on the heels of immigrant writers who as among teeming multitudes, of belonging to the tides, waves, and streams of newcomers, estranged an With this in mind, are therefore, I argue, less vague than embody the group of worke rs Bellamy talks about in his restructuring of industry and civil life from the nineteenth century which of course included immigrants; in this The delicate disc ussion of immigration that Bellamy barely touches on, however, begins in Chapter Thirteen, almost two thirds of the way through the novel, and it problematizes the sympathies he shows for the worker in the Coach analogy and throughout the novel by using a truly clichd description of immigrants from southern Europe, where most of the angst and ire about immigra tion was focused at this time. Based on Reports of the Immigration Commission percent of the present immigration is f rom the south and east of Europe and only about was completely reversed. The year Looking Backward was published, 1887, shows evidence of this remarkable switch, because fo r the first time immigrants from the south
22 and east of Europe first topped 25 percent of the total influx of immigrants (8 11). The face of the new immigrant, formerly from mostly English speaking countries, was now born Anglo S technology of the time, would also touch on the changing ethnic makeup of the American public. The brief discussion of im migration and ethnicity begins w hen West is awakened T he orientalist nature of the music and the preceding dream where he is a medieval Moorish Prince ready to d o battle against the Sp aniards signals that the theme today for West will be talking about the world outside of Boston; granted, no other mention is made throughout the novel of any other part of the United States, and so it is only natural that the conversation turn to other co untries. It is only within this context, and rather obliquely, that immigration is talked about at all. American exceptionalism is not lacking in the 21 st century ; the United States heralded many of the industrial innovations that set the example for the union and their joint policy toward the more backward races, which are gradually being educated up to people around the world should be at some level of education is an important factor in the exchange of peoples and things between nations in this new order. Historically, as nativ ists sought to restrict immigration through various strategies of legislation, the
23 10 This idea of litera cy as being an indicator of efficacy in society is also coupled with the growing notion of Social Darwinism as a basis for not only explaining the foreign nature of people who were part of the third wave of immigration, which flowed mainly from Southern an d Eastern Europe, but also in distinguishing the primacy of Anglo Saxons within the evolutionary order. 11 After a discussion of commodities exchange between partnership, monopo lizing all means of production in the country, the emigrant, even if c The resonance of this dismissal by West captures in a nutshell the elusive place of in this quote is very telling. As John Higham notes in Send These To Me significant change in the perception of people who were coming into the still young nation: mers with the country they entered rather than the one they had left. Thus the term immigrant presupposed the existence of a receiving society to which the alien could attach himself. The immigrant is not, then, a colonist or settler who creates a new so ciety and lays down the terms of admission for others. seems to be eschewing a common word in American parlance for an ear lier, perhaps
24 choosing to dism iss the issue of immigrants al together in this nar rative, perhaps as a further device to sell his soft socialist utopia to a middle class readership, eager for some comfort at the current state of the nation but still not progressive enough to consider immigrants as being part of the solution. By the si Bellamy is being very specific about who is allowed passage; rather than identifying people coming into the United States, he is identifying people coming from some other place. This implies a certain amount of age ncy on the part of the person moving from one country to another, as an independent citizen who does not require anything of the nation they are visiting, as if being a tourist is more desirable than being a worker a polite way of talking about the issue because each nation is its own monopoly on production emigration becomes less likely Dr. Leete however, has a very palatable answer: pose you For example, if a man at twenty one emigrates from England to America, England loses all the expe nse of his maintenance and education, and America gets a workman for nothing. America accordingly makes England an allowance Through a very simple exchange between countries, labor, which each country values highly, becomes the commodity with whic h the worker uses to move between nations. Two things are implied in this answer; Leete assumes that West is talking about people economies are so well organized that no one needs to leave, much less choose to
25 leave), and assures him that if in the event this does happen, the countries are willing to trade a worker for some compensation. Leete continues to explain that if the worker is near the end of his service to his coun try when he decides to emigrate (in twenty first century Boston this is at age 45) the country receiving him gets the allowance for his service, rather than the country he leaves. There is a built in incentive to keep workers, then, from leaving in the fi rst place. This is also what Suvin was referring to when he states that the innovations Bel lamy proposes, labor problems emigration innovation hopes to solve (176). 12 The additional implication is also that people emigrating from one country to another will necessarily be well educated before embarking; Dr. Leete has already them up to a civilized standard of knowledge and, ostensibly, accul turation. There is also one more variable to this emigration process, as Dr. Leete explains: responsible for its own, and the emigration of such must be under full guarantees of suppor t by its own nation. Subject to these regulations, the right of any man to emigrate at Bellamy has obviously considered every possible argument and variable for why this dustrial Army; one of the main criticisms of this system is that the idea of an industrial army is antithetical to American ideals, but on the whole there seems to be no outright objection to the objective of the Industrial Army. 13 in that Bellamy makes the provision that the home country must provide the source of upkeep; the implication being that imbeciles are not capable of contributing to society. The further implication of this st
26 be educated end up benefitting from the ability to move to another country, while the uneducable end up being a burden n o matter where they live geographically because that implies they are imbeciles. But even in this instance, then, Bellamy provides a reasonable solution in that people emigrating from one country to another who cannot provide for themselves would necessar ily be funded by the country they leave; like retired or nearing retirement workers, there is a system in place where everyone is provided for and no one is left to fend for themselves. When considering the sections of Looking Backward that take into acco unt any discussion of labor, Bellamy is doing his best to balance the emotional and intellectual needs of his readership by providing an alternative, anticipatory America in the near future that has neatly solved all of the problems faced in the nineteenth century, and at the same time provide a certain amount of progressive steering in the direction of accepting the current plight of workers and agreeing that these reforms would help everybody, not just the anxious middle class who compromised the bulk of his audience. Within this explanation of progressive reforms that lead to a utopic twenty first century, however, is representations that are softened to provide a reassurance that the planned reforms would not be socialist, would be egalitarian, and wou ld include everyone regardless of station or national origin. Bringing all of these qualities together and writing about them skillfully, especially during a time when sensitivities to foreign influences were just starting to run high and peak by the earl y twentieth century, is no
27 Nationalism put forth in Looking Backward and used its themes in two distinctly different ways. While William Dean Howells, a member of the realist movement in late nineteenth century literature, sought out his utopia in the present using the same skillful juxtapositions Bellamy provides to make his points about lab or and equality Gilman expounded the most forcefully on the issue of immigration that Bellamy seemingly ignores and took it in a completely different direction. 1 Higham delineates these depressions as ha ppening in 1873 1877 (18), and 1883 1886 (37); Hofstatdter lists the first depression as beginning in 1873 which led to the Railroad Strikes of 1877 (150) 2 3 John Higham, Send These to Me: Jews and Other Immigrants In Urban America page 22. 4 Robert Shurter, in The Utopian Novel in America labor unrest like the Haymarket Square affair in 1886 (134); the disastrous bombing, during the middle of a protest by workers for an 8 hour working day, ended with a number of officers and citizens dead, and eight workers (seven of them immigrants) standing trial for murder. 5 Shurter makes the observation that what made Looking Backward to millio ns of Americans was not the 6 Excerpts from the primary text are taken from the Random House Modern Library College Edition of Looking Backward published in 1951 with an introduction by Robert L. Shurter. 7 Arthur Lipow, Authoritarian Socialism in America: Edward Bellamy and the Nationalist Movement Lipow is sometimes brutal in his analysis of the Nationalist movemen Nationalism was not a form of socialism. 8 Suvin compares this alienated distance from the worker as more in line with Henri de Saint Simon and tienne Cabet than Fourier and Marx, even though Marxism was influe nced by the former two. 9 10 Francis A. Walker, as quoted in Higham, Strangers in the Land, page 142. John Higham dates the first attempt at a literacy bill for immigrants submitted by Henry Cabot Lodge in the December 1895 Congress (103). 11 Social Darwinism in American Thought 1860 1915 remains a reliable resource for getting a sense of the many faceted arguments that ran through the discourse of Social Darwinism through the lens of capitalism and soci alism; Chapters 5 and 6 are particularly fruitful in this regard, covering
28 Traveler From Altruria It is easy to see he scientific realm and thrown into the theoretical social realm due to the political and social climate The Origin of the Species was introduced. 12 th cent ury and, twenty years after the publication of Metamorphoses the problem of brain drain is even more of a problem for the U.S. with the tough restrictions on the H 1B visa because of current immigration policies. 13 Lipow and Shurter point out this critic ism in discussing the Industrial Army; even so, Shurter also (144).
29 CHAPTER 3 WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS AND THE ALTRURIAN ROMANC ES The Altrurian Romances first compi led as a series of letters in The Cosmpolitan from 1892 to 1893, describes the travels of Aristedes Homos, a native of the utopia Altruria, who comes to America to investigate its claims of democracy and equality. After serialization, author William Dean Howells rewrote the collection as two novels, A Traveler from Altruria (1894) and its sequel, Through the Eye of the Needle (1907). Like Edward Bellamy in Looking Backward Howells is concerned with pointing out so cial injustices and proposing alternative solutions; the difference between the strategies each author uses is mostly temporal; rather than 180 years in the future, Howells places his utopia in the present, but in another part of the world. Through practice. Where Looking Backward and The Altrurian Romances diverge, however, is irectly at the problem from the characters. While Bellamy sought to ease his readers into understanding the problems and help engender greater sympathy to the plight of the laboring classes Howells takes democratic system are more complex and nuanced ( when contrasted against the ideal in the form of the Altrurian ) y references to immigration in the story, besides the immigrant family Homos and his hosts encounter, are Americans place to immigrate to but one to create
30 where you are; change must come from within. This has the benefit of both holding Altruria up as a model society with which to learn from, and also discourages an impulsive exodus from the states by workers frustrat ed with current economic structures. The immigrants featured in A Traveler From Altruria are not from Southern or Eastern Europe but from England, another English speaking country; however, this does not deter Howells from making a very pointed argument ab out how immigrants of any type are perceived in late nineteenth century America. Additionally, the subject of immigration never comes up from the perspective of people coming into America from ing to America is proof enough that his homeland i s the better of the two choices. Thus, Homos refutes the idea that part of the appeal of coming to America for most immigrants is the choice between staying in untenable economic or political conditions in coming to an uncertain new place that at least has the vague promise of opportunity. In Through the Eye of the Needle Howell relents and decides to show the readers what immigration to Altruria entails, but does this through the ey E vel eth, who relates in letters home her impressions of the utopian society and its novel focuses more on labor issues than the sequel and thi s was certainly a subject that was of grave concern to him at the time he wrote about the adventures of Aristedes Homos in America. Immigration is ancillary but still integral to his main thesis, which is that t he current labor situation post I ndustrial R evolution was causing more suffering and people needed to train their attention on the large corporations instead of on
31 immigrants. This is not to say Howells is ahead of his times in thinking about immigrants; Elsa Nettles points out that Howells is not e xempt from nativist racism, where non seems to heap the most nativist abuse on the Irish (90). On the other hand, however, Howells has been a champion of African American and women authors, as evidenced by his early support of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (73), and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Howells shows that one can be of the times without being com pletely with the times when it comes to otherwise conservative expressions such as nativism, and another example of his sympathies plays out in his response to the Haymarket riot. The Haymarket r iot in 1886 was, for Howells, a lamentably sad chapter in Ame rican history, and he was moved to write in public, and more strongly in private to his sister, his sadness and hope that he could someday do justice to those "irreparably wronged men" (Ebel 117). 1 In addition to his growing awareness of social inequitie s in America, he was very aware of the baseline cause which was the unregulated markets and the economic depression of the 1890s; even though Howells did not think the precarious prospects of the market were good for the country, he was at the time (like m any of his peers) entrenched in the market, and saw his fortunes fall during this period ( Ebel 118). Like Bellamy, Howells saw many of the problems in American labor stem from the corporate trusts, but this did not necessarily equate with support for labo rers; Howells saw that the constant strikes happening during the late nineteenth century were counter strikes and riots on foreign workers and their leaders, Howells attacked the r oot of the
32 evil in the whole competitive system, in which foreigners and natives a like were 102). It was with these social problems in mind that he embarked on a series of eleven pieces for The Cosmopolitan that ran from November 1893 to September 1894; they depicted the letters home to the utopian land of Altruria by Aristedes Homos, describing the American landscape and people around him. According to Susan Goodman and Carl Dawson these letters serialize what they call ar guments with Americ ; in these dialogues between his fictionalized self, Mr. Twelvemough, the novelist, and Homos, the traveler from Altruria, Howells is working out the substance of his core beliefs about American society and its obligation between peopl es. Over and over again, Homos becomes the classic foil to question the practices of American society in the late nineteenth century, and Twelvemough and other characters the representative Americans who personalize these deficient practices (321). These letters were then expanded into the novels, which retain the purpose and spirit of the serialized America in contrast. 2 At the start of the A Traveler from Altruria Mr. T welvemough meets Aristedes Homos at the train station and takes him to the hotel where he is summering in the country. One of the first things Homos does is help the porter move his luggage, much ssic fish out of water story, with this event the reader is warned that Homos will be acting against the grain of middle and upper class Americans in his Altrurian belief to help everyone regardless of
33 not have the distinction of seeing the opposing viewpoints on American social and economic mores as clearly as they do in The Altrurian Romances. As Twelvemough introduces Homos to the other guests at the hotel, Homos gains some of his knowledge about the state of the American working class from his conversations with a lawyer, a minister, a professor, and a banker, and has divined from these conversations that the workingman is altern ately thought of as lazy and ir ascible, or not thought of at all. 3 Homos grapples with the competing ideas of America in the abstract; this forum allows Howells to show Homos weighting the preconceived narrative of America as a land of opportunity where all may benefit through the graces of a d emocratic system of government and industry, alongside the representative Americans he meets who do not see anything wrong with slighting the workers in the spoils of economic success. It is striking that there is really only one instance where Howells s peaks directly to the question of immigrants from the American perspective, and this is exemplified in the meeting with the young woman who has moved to America with her husband, who works in the nearby quarry. This chance meeting will show Homos not only the disparity between the democratic myth of America and the reality of class inequality, it also presents Homos with a troubling contradiction to his own instincts and learning from his native Altruria. T he fact that the woman is from England rather tha n from S outhern Europe ; the shared commonality of the English language makes the exchange easily understood so the mis understanding comes not from differences in language but from society matron M r that the woman wants a handout. In this scene, Twelvemough and Homos are joined by Mrs. Makely on a carriage ride through the countryside surrounding the summer
34 resort, and are greeted by a young woman who is the mother of all but one of six children who suddenly rush out in front of the carriage as a prank; the one child is her The woman explains that she is watching the nephew while her sister has the other eight of her children with her at church. my little Mrs. Makely, with an evident perception of her pride in it. circumstances that she is asking for a handout to help finish her house I n other words, because the woman is an immigrant and therefore alien to American mores, she handedly ask the travelers for money. Mrs. Makely expresses her self righteous anger to the other two after they co ntinue on their way : and then those foreigners have no self respect. That was a pretty bold bid anythi ng, Mr. Twelvemough. I was afraid your sympathies had been wrought upon The Altrurian is, understandably, perplexed by this and asks what harm it would have done to give the woman money to help her finish her cottage. He is quickly told that doing
35 created the impression that she was looking for charity, and Mr. Twelvemough quite agrees with h er : fees, but th Mrs. Makely, besides setting the woman as disr espectful foreigner, has also further hint around asking for money. Mr. Twelvemough agrees and expresses relief that that is not the case as of yet with Americans; a s Homo form of tips given to porters for performing services, or income gained from work, both concepts completely alien to the Altrurian. statement leaves open the cynical and perhaps pessimistic possibility that Americans will someday ask for handouts. In the next exchange, t he gap in understanding between the Americans and Homos on this count widens even further: with you have some people who are richer than Citizenshi p aside, Mrs. Makely is hard pressed to believe Homos in his supposition that
36 economic and social rifts in American society gives the reader a chance to parse that these issues are deeper and more entrenched in the American psyche; the fact that the Altr urian provides such a strong counterpoint throughout with his Altrurian values is an incredibly effective tool Howell uses advantageously. The misunderstanding between Homos and the Americans goes beyond a simple misunderstanding of biblical invocation; i t pits a mythologized America against the more realistic truth that Homos is As Clara and Rudolph Kirk note in their introduction to the collected Altrurian Romances Christian tradition of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, in which Howells had been born and reared in the days before the Civil War, and to which he hoped the country would 4 inequity that runs throughout American lif Throughout the narratives, Howells successfully speaks through both Twelvemough and Homos; on the one side th e current realities of the divisiveness in American culture, and on the other the ideal circumstances for America to come together. Christian outlook embodied in the Declaration of Independence an d the Constitution; rather, Howells is tapping away, for his readers, at the hyprocrisy of Christian ideals (such as Mrs.
37 instead for the reader to look at the state of the nation through a humanistic perspective. Like Bellamy, Howells has centered the success of his utopian world on the centralization and ownership of labor by the people. In the climax of A Traveler from Altruria Homos gives a speech about his homeland, and in it he describes succinctly how his people came to see their situation: "We have totally eliminated chance from our economic life. There is still a chance that a man will be tall or short, in Altruria, that he will be strong or weak, well or ill, ga y or grave, happy or unhappy in love, but none that he will be rich or poor, busy or idle, live splendidly or meanly. These stupid and vulgar accidents of human contrivance cannot befall us; but I shall not be able to tell you just how or why, or to detai l the process of eliminating chance. I may say, however, that it began with the nationalization of telegraphs, expresses, railroads, mines and all large industries operated by stock companies. This at once struck a fatal blow at the speculation in values real and unreal, and at the stock exchange, or course; we had our own name for that gambler's paradise, or gambler's hell, whose baleful influence penetrated every branch of business." (173) In this important section, Homos defines the same solution Bel lamy came to in his Utopia of Boston in 2000; complete nationalization of all formerly corporatized entities. is physically made and emotionally sound, rather than being In addition to the centralization of services by the government, there are also hints of how the Altrurians consider the issue of immigration. This is an important turning point, because Homos, in also leaves open the possibility of immigration later on. Homos has finished giving the speech about Altruria and some of the workers who attended approach Homos after the speech to find out how they can get to Altruria:
38 rail route to Altruria, I after I got ther Homos, with that confounded smile of his that always won my heart (177). In this crucial exchange Homos is telling the workers who would rather move to Altruria and quit th e United States that Altruria has to come about from wherever they are located. In other words, utopia must be made where there are people willing to work for change, and not a destination where one reaches utopia in a geographical sense. Even as Howells offers this tantalizing space (Altruria) where a true utopia has been achieved, he also offers the opinion that Altruria is never going to be achieved in America unless people work for it. Immigration for others to America, then, is still the ideal; Amer ica can and should be utopia, Howells is saying, and let other people yearn The year the sequel to A Traveler from Altruria Through the Eye of the Needle was published, in 1907, the peak of flow for immigrants entering the United States was just cresting. Like the first novel, Howells was working through a more advanced treatise not only on the structural alternatives presented by the Altrurian utopia, but also calling for a more sensible and classically American approach to the democracy he knows is evident but often obscured by the needs of industry over the needs of all Americans regardless of origin. Through the Eye of the Needle however, definitely tening on the topic of immigration to Altruria, and there is more discussion about Americans making the journey to Altruria, as well as what happens
39 Readers are finally introduced to and can witness for themselves the utopia that America needs to bring home. T his second narrated first by Homos rather than Twelvemough, and then by his fianc in the second part. P icking up where the first novel left off, he meets and falls in love with Eveleth Strange, and has every intention of bringing her and her mother back with him to implications of going t o and coming from Altruria for the Altruian are very different things veleth) antici pate s spending a short amount of time in Altruria before moving back to the states permanently with Homos. "Of co urse," she explained, you will want to see all your old friends, and so will Eveleth, for they will be her friends, too; but if you want me to go with you, as you say, you must let me know when I shall see New York again." be with us!" "Well, then," she pursued with a smile, "when shall you come back?" "Oh, never!" I answered. "No one ever leaves Altruria, if he can help it, unless he is sent on a mission." She looked a little mystified, and I went on: "Of course, I was not officially authorized to visit the world outside, but I was permitted to do so, to satisfy a curiosity the Priors thought useful; but I have now had quite enough of it, and I shall never leave home again." "You won't come to live in America?" "God fo rbid!" said I, and I am afraid I could not hide the horrors that ran through me at the thought. "And when you once see our happy country, you could no more be persuaded to return to America than a disembodied spirit could be persuaded to return to the ear th." (353 354)
40 publication (1907), but that it is also no match for the charms of t he solid utopia where Homos will return. Throughout both novels there is an undercurrent that cuts across the grain of American sensibilities, one that tells readers that America may not be so great, may not hold the promise of its democratic institutions exceptionalism that Howells weaves into the narratives. He will contradict himself and reverse this course by the beginning of the second novel. P ublished seven years after the first Altrurian romance, Howells notes vaguely in the introduction of Through the Eye of the Needle tely logical in its events, which are subject to some of the anomalies governing in our own to discourage foreign emigration, against their rule of universal hospit ality, and in at least one notable instance are obliged to protect themselves against what they believe an evil example by using compulsion with the wrong doers, though the theory of their s able to subtly hint that the veracity of this is at issue since the second part of the story, which takes place in Altruria, is related solely through the letters Eveleth sends home to her friends. She t stages a mutiny in order to stay in Altruria; this is the same ship in which she and Homos traveled from America. While Howells says in the introduction that immigration is restricted, Eveleth tells a different
41 story; when the men approach the Altrurian s for sanctuary, the Altrurians begin a people, men and women together. In the end, the crew is allowed to remain in Altruria if e is able, however, to convince them to man the ship one more time in order for him and his wife to get back to their home country and their waiting children. While this may appear restrictive in the sense that the men are not automatically allowed to rem ain in Altruria, the process they undergo in a public hearing seems somehow more humane than anything that was offered for immigrants coming to America at that time. The long, treacherous journey by ship in squalid conditions, and then the humiliating cat see Charlotte Perkins Gilman address in Moving the Mountain, but Howells works his own solution by showing the possible alternative rather than the possible solution. The Altrurian Romances are part of the Ame rican Utopian Literature movement of the late 19 th century and even though it did not reach the lasting notoriety that Looking Backward enjoys it is important in that Howells, in writing in the genre, helps move forward not only the utopian America that Be llamy had envisioned, but also helped Bellamy in broadening the discussion about immigration; where Bellamy softens and plays down the topic for his audience, Howells strikes out more boldly to bring to the fore the core issues of how the worker and immigr ant are perceived in middle and upper classes. To show this he uses the utopian Homos, his name signifying mankind, neighbor, as the way to broach the topic in a way that is a t once non threatening but yet makes a clear case for why change in America at this time is so desperately needed.
42 As the Kirks rightly identify, and the Altrurian Romances show, Howells was not only working out his angst at a rapidly changing society whe re, like Bellamy, he saw the it), he was also working out his arguments with America in terms of how it deals with the fictional and real self; Homos does how the the worker and the immigrant are considered within the context of the social fabric. And when the workers who meet up with Homos after the meeting want to know how they can find utopia, and Homos replies the utopia must come to them, Howells is he also contradicts this, but shows again (thi s time through the eyes of an American) how possible and how humane real societal reform can and should be. Immigration was hitting its peak in America during the time of the writing of The Altrurian Romances and Howells ultimately concludes for his rea ders that we can do no more than to care for every person no matter their station or citizenship, and that utopia is not a fixed place to immigrate to, but a structure to create wherever one is. As we will Moving the Mountain enough time had elapsed between the publication of Looking Backward and her novel, published in 1911, that she had a chance to think about how the question of immigration would work in her utopian America, placed in the near future of 1940. Published four years after Through the Eye of the Needle it takes a much different turn than The Altrurian Romances 1 Susan Goodman and Carl Dawson devote a fair amount of Chapter Twelve of William Dean Howells: A to an in because of his advocacy for the men on trial.
43 2 For the purposes of this study I used the two main texts, A Traveler from Altruria and it s sequel, Through the Eye of the Needle as the main texts on which to draw; the letters were used as a reference point between the two texts since the novels were drawn from these letters as source material. 3 acters are representative of different viewpoints among the different types of middle class or upper class thinking, and usually have names reminiscent of those types. 4 gly that a social Christianity grounded in the life and example of Christ and reinforced in the democratic conceptions of Greece in which self Altrurian culture, then, is ba sed on these values.
44 CHAPTER 4 CHARLOTTE PERKINS GI LMAN AND MOVING THE MOUNTAIN helped in its publication by William Dean Howells I n the introduction to Charlotte Minna Doskow observes that Gilman was familiar A Traveller from Altruria 1 Because of her exposure to Looking Backward s demise in 1894; she worked on promoting its ideals primarily those of feminism and gender equality by writing for the official journal of the movement which Bellamy e dited, The Nationalist as well as giving lectures; at one point she moved out to California to further pursue her career as an organizer in the movement. S he remained faithful to the ideals of Nationalism and Bellamy 2 Moving the Mou ntain her first of three utopian novels, is significant because she is extremely detailed in the immigration reforms taking place in her utopian America of 1940, more so than Bellamy or Howells, and also quite frank in her endorsement of practices such as eugenics which make her ideas not only extreme but ill considered within a modern reckoning of these reforms. Unlike Bellamy and Howells we see a much different more explicit plan of how immigration within a utopian framework is meted out and how it is presented to readers; out of the three, Gilman is both the most vocal and least sympathet ic, reflecting not only her personal views but the views of many Americans at this time, who saw the steadily growing numbers of immigrants in the United States as a t hreat. By the time Moving the Mountain was first published, the lines of American sentiment towards the mounting influx of immigrants were drawn between two schools of thought regarding Americanization John Higham calls this a
45 ic impulses, and the latter by trust in a free society (234 235). Gilman, in creating her sense of the utopic vision, problematically endorsed not integration but forced assimilation. Critics h ave long acknowledged the assimilationist views Gilman espouses in her novels and especially in Moving the Mountain ; for example, Doskow points to the novel as a prime example noting demonstrates that treating immigrants well and educating them will produce good American citiz Anglo Doskow observes that Gilman, while not treating prejudice among Anglo Saxons as a serious problem, does imply, through acculturation and intermarriage into Anglo Saxon bloodlines, is the most expedient route not only to national homogeneity but the end of ethnic prejudices. progressive social settlements in New York and Chicago, such as Hull House, which did not demand of a deep nationalistic tenor in the Americanization movement and her solutions to immigration echo an escalation War I in 1917. At this time, the concept of eugenics the control of only the most desirable genetic combinations of a race by human intervention rather than natural selection was in vogue, beginnin g as an earnest attempt to apply science to the study
46 of the human race, and slowly degenerated into pseudoscience by the time of the Great Depression. 3 Gilman, in her feminist leanings, was highly taken with the idea of combining her feminist ideals with scientific logic to enhance not only the lives of women, but their progeny. Beth Sutton ideas of motherhood are closely tied with success of not only the Anglo Saxon race but of the American republic. 4 This mak es more sense when you realize that Gilman was Nationalism; Looking Backward merely hinted at the direction these reforms might take, Gilman seized on the germ of this idea and e xpanded it within her own utopian worldview in Moving the Mountain her journal, The Forerunner ; Moving the Mountain the first of her utopian works followed by her best known utopian work, Herland and its sequel With Her in Our Land Moving the Mountain follows many of the classic utopian stratagems in pushing take; like Looking Backward for instance, its protagonist and narrator, John Robertson, has woken from a slumber (more of a walking somnambulism) after a number of years have passed. The time frame for his disappearance and reappearance is interesting; only thirty years for John R oberston but about 100 years for Julian West, which is why Gilman, in the Preface to Moving the Mountain to evolve into a utopia, Gil
47 quickly; it is also a telling window into the mounting public opinion that immigration had olutions like these were being put forward with greater regularity. 5 Between the publication of Looking Backward and by the time Moving the Mountain had been serialized in The Forerunner various special interests had made gains in shifting public and leg islative opinion to stem of the tide of what they saw as the flooding of immigrant groups into the states by the turn of the century. The Chinese Exclusion Acts of 1882 and 1902 sought to limit one specific ethnic group, whlle other nativist groups sought a permanent solution to current immigrations laws (this, again, was somewhat satisfied with the Immigration Act of 1924, which ended the flood of immigrants by restricting the amount to two percent from each nationality). 6 Gilman is extremely specific ab out her views on immigration and how this would be handled within the utopian America she constructs in Moving the Mountain As her first utopian novel, Moving the Mountain contains much of the philosophy she had been working out, both in and out of the N rearing and, most troubling, on population controls. She does this through the elaborate immigration reforms she maps out which center on assimilation rather than cohesion, as well as esp ousing her endorsement of eugenic practices to control the development of American society. At the beginning of Moving the Mountain John Robertson has been found by his sister, Nellie, living in a Tibetan village with no memory of the last thirty years. Seeing Nellie, along with hitting his head on a rock, revives Robertson to his senses and he is able to return to America with his sister. Robertson is shown all the wonderful changes that have taken place and, at the beginning of Chapter Three, they sa il towards the
48 mainland in New York where Robertson witnesses the actual changes and is astonished. The discussion turns to how things are restructured in society with regards to industrialization and immigration. This scene illustrates ist leanings in how immigrants are handled in this utopian America, as well as her feminist sensibilities in how women have taken new roles within this society. T hroughout this part of the narrative, however, ect a bit of indoctrinating new immigrants. Nellie explains that their society has woken up to the gical process not Now, they have two points of entry to the US, one in Long Island, and the other in bjected to another type of humiliation At one point, she implies that immigrants are like cattle but then says that America profits from their labor not their price, and also speaks briefly on outright call this eugenics. 7 Gilman has no qualms in talking about immigrants as low class people and, in rather patronizing terms, makes these didactic arguments about their success as John argues his side from a thirty years ago democratic perspective. In this next scene, ent as she hashes out more of the details trappings;
49 America will take in these immigrants and treat them humanely, but these immigrants must give an awful lot in the process. Nellie b egins educating her brother about the brought up to acceptable standards as American citizens, they are given opportunities for betterment from the very start. As Nellie an d John sail into New York Harbor on the last leg of their journey from Asia, Nellie asks John if he had noticed that there is no steerage on the boat they are riding in; no immigrants have to pay steerage passage on waiting their arrival, she explains, before boarding. When John protests that this is an awful expense, Nellie counters that doing this is akin to adding and improving the herd: and suppose your ranch was surrounded by strays mavericks anxious to come in. Woul and introduce it to America In this passage, Gilman seems to miss the point of socialism which is a non hierarchical collective ownership of resources and the benefits of labor, but in the previous chapter Nellie has already told John that they have attained socialism and surpassed it; apparently the result is a regression to lat e nineteenth
50 Nationalism with some lip service to socialism. Nellie explains that no immigrant is standard involves being welcomed in their own language (each nationality has its own examination that consists of microscopic and chemical evaluations, because Nellie citizenship now an idea of what people ought to be discussion of the popular perception that difference=chaos within American society. The modern concept of nationalism, a agents of discord for that reason. Gilman has thought about this issue to the extent of inferring that immigrants ar not optimal to the goal of American homogeneity; her utopia, therefore, demands strict assimilation in order to be part of American society. treatment of immigran ts is the fact that she speaks about this through the main background with immigrants, he still gave them a voice within his narratives. The final, and most startling passage from this chapter, however, in terms of immigration reform and of women, is how Gilman handles a very brief discussion of eugenics. Roberston
51 case: and said and thought in the past generation. The idea was that people had to increase like rabbits, and would eat up the food supply, so wars and eep largely passed that, and were beginning to worry about the decreasing birth rate among the more intelligent. It was only the lowest grade t hat kept on with. I should think it would have materially lowered the average. Or have we have made great advances in that, of course; but the chief factor in this change is a common bi ological law women develop their personal power, their human characteristics and Without stating that her utopia actually uses eugenics (although they have improved on it, she says) Gilman still presents a sympathetic (if somewhat patronizing) view of being accomplished by encouraging immigrant wome experiment allows for her utopians to be broad minded and concerned for the welfare of newly arrived immigrants and at the sam e time impose a standard that the immigrants must attain before admittance to American citizenry. They cannot be allowed to intermix with the rest of the American public until they have been thoroughly inspected
52 and assimilated to American ideals that, Gi lman says, by this time have been attained as a marker of suitability to the already established native Anglo Saxons. The immigrant arguments in the chapter demonstrate a global process of cultural Roemer sta tes in Obsolete Necessity the geographical characteristics of America provide a perfect environment for the build an intercontinental railroad that will make the deserts bloom and spread American civilization around the Moving the Mountain Gilman (speaking through Nellie) ulation: else yet is there as good opportunity to be helped up, to have real scientific care, real loving study and assistance! Everybody likes to be made the most of! Everybody nearly has the feeling that they might be something better if they had a chance! We give them the chance (57) population and funnel it to America, Nellie explains that th e promise America offers actually helps people around the world who choose to remain in their homelands, and the lower classes are drained off to the US: raised the value of tho se who remained. They were better paid, better thought of at home. As more and more people came to us, the other nations got rather alarmed, and began to establish counter attractions to By merely being the leader in pro viding humane and practical roads to citizenship in the United States, other nations around the world scramble to revise their own narrow by Americans in centralizing in dustry and services would induce the rest of the world to
53 fall in line, so Gilman echoes this exceptionalist stance once again. Anglo Saxon their cultural and racial herit Roemer observes that very few utopian authors in the last decade of t he nineteenth this tactic was still a consideration for author s like Bellamy and Gilman to employ in the context of a nationalist ideal. In Imaginary Communities: Utopia, The Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity Philip Wegner identifies the passage of the Dawes Act in 1876 as an indicator of how governme nt proposed to deal with American Indians, putting them on reservations throughout the country; by extension, Bellamy and, later, Gilman, attempt into America by concert 8 Dedifferentiation serves to homogenize Saxon culture in America; specifically, the popula tions who were not English speaking and considered threatening by their foreign ness were prime targets. Higham observes that the st widespread and fervent response. But, he through love. It was part of the paradox of the movement that the side which evoked the most ardent American response produced the s 238).
54 It is troubling, then, to note that the dedifferentiation that Bellamy and Gilman enact have, while well meaning, the footprint of the former nativistic militancy. By combining feminism and nativism, Gilman rode two d ifferent but overlapping ideological waves in Moving the Mountain ; even though the novel itself has been largely forgotten, she was at the forefront of two different yet related concerns to Americans. Taken together, her desire to work out questions of ho w to give women full agency in American society while maintaining standards of race purity were borne out in her allegiance to the eugenics movement; in this social philosophy, that humans needed to take over for nature in choosing the most positive charac teristics for a race, she found what she thought was a viable alternative to the problems she saw as a feminist at the turn of the century where women were beholden to men for their sustenance. Coupled with this was her staunch belief in the principles of Nationalism that Bellamy had put forth in Looking Backward ; its ideals would influence her own work and her own utopian studies until the first two decades of the twentieth century and shortly before her death in 1935. She also took a barely mentioned re ference to immigrant populations from Looking Backward and came to the same conclusions as Bellamy; people should be allowed into America only if they are of a standard that is only met with proper indoctrination, education, and hygiene. She took this sma ll reference and turned it into a cornerstone of the immigration reforms she enacted in her near future utopia of 1940, purity of American society could only be mainta ined by restricting not only who was allowed to come into the country, but who was allowed to reproduce. Couched in
55 humanitarian terms, this is appealing as a sincere and enthusiastic proposal even while it is also highly racist and mean spirited in its f inal analysis. 1 Thomas Peyser, in Utopia & Cosmopolis least modest recognition was a satirical poem that appeared in 1890 in The Nationalist, a journal dedicated to disseminating Bell praise from William Dean Howells, who at the end of his life was instrumental in promoting the publication 2 ist activities between 1893 1894, but she began withdrawing as an activist after 1892 (30 31). 3 Eugenics and the Progressives. Pickens, Donald K. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1968. Pages 4 5. 4 Sutton Ramspeck draws much of her knowledge abo known The Crux and the more well known Herland; In the Crux where a character tells the young female fo 5 That she located her fictional utopia not in 'elsewhere' but in an American 'here and now' only thirty years distant, testifies to her optimism and faith in the utopian potentialities which she believed to be latent within American social reality" (134). 6 Kevels, Daniel K. In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the uses of Human Heredity. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985 Pages 96 97. 7 fiction ruminations on the features of her reforms found in Moving the Mountain Women and Economics but probably the most damning remark is found e female of some other species, ignoring her racial duty of right selection, should mate with mangy, toothless cripples, and so produce weak, malformed young, and help sibility of the female to choose suitable partners as part of her sacred duty as progenitor of the republic, the point echoed in the above quote from Moving the Mountain 8 ng Jacob Riis in his influential study of New York City immigrant slums, come to conclusions similar to those of the authors of the Dawes Act: assimilation was the only proper response to the present crisis of diversity besetting the
56 CHAPTER 4 CONCLUSION The Immigration Act of 1924 effectively ended the tidal wave of immigration that, by 1890, had seen the surge in southern and eastern Europeans increase over native born Americans by 3 1 in the cities, but not before th e lasting impression that immigrants were more a problem than a part of the American structure had been indelibly imprinted on the American psyche. Along the way, the public debate about stances and proposals to solve this problem. Taking three American utopian novels from this time period is interesting and insightful highlighting it progressed in the popular imagination. At the time Looking Backward was published, the influx of immigrants had just begun to be seen as a potential threat to the American position on the issue, but also about the way he was speak ing to his readership. Looking Backward was to give his anxious readership a foothold to a future where social and economic equality would be the norm rather than the ideal. This also required a light touch when talking about sensi tive subjects, such as immigration, that were beginning to be seen as problematic. Bellamy accomplishes this by choosing to speak more about the worker and centralization of government; his narrative speaks to the ability to ably present an alternative to the current structure and craft it into a meaningful and plausible solution for his readers. The utopian solutions Bellamy puts forward in Looking Backward were so plausible, in fact, it inspired a movement of progressive thought that attracted the atte ntion and involvement of those who saw Looking Backward as a great jumping off
57 point to begin talking about national reform; William Dean Howells and Charlotte Perkins Gilman were by no means the first to grasp this, but they definitely saw the utopian gen re of literature as a way to speak just as ably on the social issues that mattered most to Americans. Each would craft their own utopian worlds for better or worse; Ho wells chose to present America by contrasting Americans and the institution of democracy with the Altrurian Homos Aristedes and an alternative system of government in the utopian country of Altruria; Charlotte Gilman Perkins saw in her utopian vision an America where immigrants were no longer a problem but diamonds in the rough to be reformed in the American ideal of citizenry. Both of these utopias had their own indirect ways of envisioning how i mmigrants fit into their worlds. H ow they discussed this issue shows the changing public opinion between 1887 when Looking Backward was first publis hed, and 1911 when Gilman first serialized Moving the Mountain in The Forerunner In this short span of time we can see two perspectives about immigration ; one shared by Bellamy and Gilman that spoke about immigrants as a population that would be educated properly in being American before being allowed to become part of it, and the other show ed that sympathy for the immigrant is just as much a part of the American experience as enjoying the fruits of democracy but he also powerfully shows the immigrant encounters and struggles with prejudice in the reactions of Mr s. Makely and Mr. Twelvemough The travels of Aristedes Homos through the eastern United States also brought to the surface the underlying struggles of American workers who were
58 to American workers to build their utopia where they stand, rather than seek it elsewhere. What ultimately develops from this comparison of the three authors is a glimpse o f how American u topianists and the American public look ed at the issue of immigration during this time; it also underscores the division of public sentiment that has always been present with regards to immigrants and immigration ; as Higham notes, the division between fear and love of the immigrant have been the two modes of thinking about immigration since the nineteenth century when immigration first became a narrative fits the latter. poignant; while it is a simple thing to find racist sentiments among American writers of the late nineteenth century about the new arrivals on their shores and slightly more difficult to parse any sympathetic views among them, this did not mean that the authors of immigration; they worked this issue out in their own ways and fell along different points of the spe ctrum of public sentiment. And this is pretty much ultimately what America is : see thi s constant back and forth on the issue of immigration, the pose between humane and humiliation. The questions of how to live in a diverse country such as America is one that continues to this day, and following to a certain extent the same lines of thinki ng.
59 LIST OF REFERENCES Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward, 2000 1887; with an introduction by Robert Shurter New York: Modern Library, 1951. Eble, Kenneth Eugene, and David J. Nordloh. William Dean Howells 2nd ed. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1982. Este ve, Mary. The Aesthetics and Politics of the Crowd in American Literature Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins, and Minna Doskow. Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Utopian Novels Madison, NJ; London: Fairleigh Dicki nson University Press; Associated University Presses, 1999. Goodman, Susan, and Carl Dawson. William Dean Howells : A Writer's Life Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. Gough, Val, and Jill Rudd. A Very Different Story: Studies on the Fictio n of Charlotte Perkins Gilman Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1998. Higham, John. Send these to Me : Jews and Other Immigrants in Urban America 1st ed. New York: Atheneum, 1975. --. Strangers in the Land; Patterns of American Nativism, 1860 192 5 2d ed. New York: Atheneum, 1972. Hofstadter, Richard. The Age of Reform; from Bryan to F.D.R 1st ed. New York: Knopf, 1955. Howells, William Dean. The Altrurian Romances. Introd. and Notes to the Text Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968. Li pow, Arthur. Authoritarian Socialism in America : Edward Bellamy & the Nationalist Movement Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982. Nettels, Elsa. Language, Race, and Social Class in Howells's America Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky 1988. Peyser, Thomas. Utopia & Cosmopolis : Globalization in the Era of American Literary Realism Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1998. Pfaelzer, Jean. The Utopian Novel in America, 1886 1896 : The Politics of Form Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1984. Roemer, Kenneth. The Obsolete Necessity: America in Utopian Writings, 1888 1900 Kent State: The Kent State University Press, 1976. Scharnhorst, Gary. Charlotte Perkins Gilman Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985.
60 Shurter, Robert. The Utopian Novel in America, 1865 1900 New York: AMS Press, 1973. Sutton Ramspeck, Beth. Raising the Dust: The Literary Housekeeping of Mary Ward, Sarah Grand, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2004. Suvin, Darko. Metamorp hosis of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1979. Wegner, Phillip E. Imaginary Communities : Utopia, the Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity Berkeley, Calif. ; London: Univer sity of California Press, 2002. Zinn, Howard. Present New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999
61 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Michele LeSure received her master s degree in English at the University of Florida in 2011 and her bachelor s degree in English at the University of Florida in 2008. She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and son.