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The Green DepressionAmerican Ecoliterature in the 1930s and 1940s$
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Matthew M. Lambert

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781496830401

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2021

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496830401.001.0001

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The Postpastoral City

The Postpastoral City

(p.99) Chapter 3 The Postpastoral City
The Green Depression

Matthew M. Lambert

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter focuses on ways that depression-era authors use urban pastoralism to call attention to the value and effects of “green” spaces and nonhuman nature in urban landscapes—from parks and other recreational spaces to overgrown vacant lots and “commensal” animals. While James T. Farrell’s Young Lonigan (1932) and Nelson Algren’s Never Come Morning (1942) depict parks as largely unable to counter overly individualistic and masculine forms of “place” valued by their urban characters, Mike Gold’s Jews Without Money (1930) and Tillie Olsen’s Yonnondio: From the Thirties (1974) envision ways that working-class characters attempt to create alternative social and environmental interactions in vacant lots and neighborhood dumps. In Native Son (1939), Richard Wright uses rats to symbolize the poor economic and environmental conditions of Chicago’s “Black Belt” and to model forms of mobility and defiance for his characters, both of which challenge what constitutes human and nonhuman “pests.”

Keywords:   Urban pastoral, Parks, Rats, Place, Dumps

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