Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Nicolle Jordan

Advisor Department



Stephen Crane’s “An Experiment in Misery” of 1921 and “The Clan of No Name” of 1900 are under-analyzed short stories that express the naturalist tradition. Ross Murfin and Supriya M. Ray characterize naturalist works as “assum[ing] humans have little if any control over what happens” and that we “are at the mercy of a variety of external and internal forces” (288). Crane uses the foreshadowing of death and doom and a sense of mutual obligation to exemplify a lack of free will in characters to escape their predetermined fate. The Youth in “An Experiment in Misery” dresses like the lower class, echoes the actions of the lower class, and finally realizes and accepts his fate as predetermined by his assigned social class. Through the experience of Manolo Prat and other characters, “The Clan of No Name” explores the victimization of each character as they adhere to their sense of mutual obligation and lack of free will over their military rank. My research foregrounds the sense of mutual obligation among members of both lower and higher classes and ranks and how this obligation creates a lack of free will and victimizes characters. These features of his stories exemplify the naturalist tradition. Analysis of distinctions and obligations of different ranks and social classes within military and social hierarchies results in a perception of social stagnation within American society at the turn of the 20th century.

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