America’s image of Germany exemplified by Sinclair Lewis’ novel 'Dodsworth'

GRIN Verlag
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Seminar paper from the year 2003 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1, Southern Connecticut State University (English Department), course: American Literature of the Early 1900s, language: English, abstract: Sinclair Lewis’ novel Dodsworth is about the amb itious automobile manufacturer Sam Dodsworth from a town called Zenith, somewhere in the United States. At the age of 50, Sam is rich enough to refuse the well-paid job his company offers him. His American wife of German descent, Fran, convinces him to live in Europe for a while. And so the Dodsworths experience England, France and Germany in the late 1920ies. Sam, “the great Herr Geheimrat Generaldirektor that developed the entire motor industry” (116) – as Fran called him once ironically – goes with his wife on a trip to Europe to escape the narrowness of the provincial town of Zenith. During this journey to Europe, or especially during their stay in Berlin, Sam and Fran’s marriage falls apart. In this novel, Berlin seems to function as the basic cause for the ruin of the Dodsworths’ marriage. What is the power, the influence, that Berlin exerts on the Dodsworths’ life? Fran and Count Kurt von Obersdorf, two of the main characters, are both responsible for the later separation of Fran and Sam and the breaking of their matrimony by divorce. Why was this possible in Berlin? This question is closely connected with the American conception of Germany. It must be clarified how America views Germany, which image of Germany is portrayed in Sinclair Lewis’ novel. In this context, the attitudes of the different characters (Sam, Fran, Count Obersdorf, etc.) towards Germany must be analyzed. However, since Fran’s ancestors came directly from Europe (Germany), her conception of this country differs significantly from Sam’s. The latter represents the standard Mid-Western American of the early 20th century and has never been abroad to Europe. The interpretation of three selected sample passages will demonstrate how the image of Germany develops throughout the novel, and how this changing image eventually affects Fran and Sam’s marriage. Sam Dodsworth is the main character of the novel and his mind and ideas also undergo a development. [...]
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GRIN Verlag
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Apr 6, 2004
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Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / General
Literary Collections / American / General
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