• Survival, determinism, violence, and taboo are key themes.

  • Scientific detachment rather than church-based ideology.

  • Reality without illusion.

  • A person cannot escape his fate; people are helpless victims of heredity and environment, adrift in an indifferent universe.

  • The universe is unpredictable;fate is determined by chance; free will is an illusion.

  • Characters' behavior is influenced by the environment, by forces they can't understand or control; attempts at free will are futile.

  • Humans will behave like animals in extreme circumstances--the brute within; individuals are composed of strong and often warring emotions.


Stephen Crane

Theodore Dreiser

Jack London

Frank Norris

John Steinbeck

Edith Wharton

Richard Wright

Page updated 8/01/15.