By Kimberly Freeman
First released in 2003. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.
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Extra resources for Love American Style: Divorce and the American Novel, 1881-1976 (Literary Criticism and Cultural Theory)
For although Marica herself never gives up her illusions and expectations about marriage, her jealous anger is what causes Bartley to leave (MI, 275). 21 The aim of realism then is to curb such dangerous expectations by exposing and commenting on marriage and divorce as they really are in America, and not to amplify expectations or valorize passionate suffering. Bartley fails at his duties. A parallel lesson in interpretation occurs between Atherton, the Boston lawyer who becomes the moral center of the novel, and Ben Halleck, Bartley’s wealthy Bostonite college friend.
90 While Boone’s specific criticism may be directed at Howells, he is using books as types, and he does not deal with any other divorce novels. Thus, his criticism of Howells seems emblematic of many treatments of divorce. He suggests, as have Hinz and Tanner, that divorce is merely an inversion of marriage and a means of conserving the institution of marriage. While on some level this view of divorce as conservative is certainly true, it is limited. The very idea of divorce also alters one of the fundaments of marriage—its permanence.
In order to curb rising divorce rates in the 1880s, many states sought to create restrictive divorce laws. In most states, only adultery, desertion, and cruelty were legal grounds for divorce. Yet, rather than actually curbing the divorce rate, these restrictive grounds encouraged creative ways of circumscribing the courts. In other words, couples often told a different story to the courts than the one that was actually the reason for seeking divorce: What was the narrative told by divorcing husbands and wives?
Love American Style: Divorce and the American Novel, 1881-1976 (Literary Criticism and Cultural Theory) by Kimberly Freeman