Competing Forms of Representation and the Figure of the Orphan in William Carlos Williams’s Depression-Era Passaic
In Life Along the Passaic, William Carlos Williams uses the discrepancy between realism and modernism (or between the reality of experience and the representation of it) to diagnose the illness of his culture and show the plight of individuals during the Depression through the metaphor of the orphan. In addition, figurations of family, both positive and negative, offer an imaginative survey of possibilities and pitfalls for remedying the plight of the orphan. The figurations of family are not offered as a cure or consolation for loss but instead as representations of the ways individuals counteract or cope with loss and poverty. The signs of personal dignity and creativity that permeate Williams‘s collection of stories also testify to the capacity and culture of marginalized people. These signs of accomplishment and individuality are all the more admirable for existing in the face of being cut off, or orphaned, from beneficial resources that ought to be available. Williams‘s narrative map of Passaic reveals how such accomplishments help people cope with the losses figured by orphanhood.
Jeffrey Westover. "Competing Forms of Representation and the Figure of the Orphan in William Carlos Williams’s Depression-Era Passaic" Fourth Biennial William Carlos Williams Society Conference/William Paterson University. Wayne, NJ. Jun. 2011.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jeffrey_westover/3