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Social Stratification

Introduction Social stratification is a recurring theme in many great works of literature. Social stratification can be defined as a "hierarchical ranking of groups (that is) based on the unequal distribution of societal resources and positions" (The University of Texas at Dallas). Throughout history, social stratification has influenced the class system of America, the caste system of India, and the feudal system of Europe. Today, social stratification has a very real influence in America and Europe. Even today, Americans are often divided by income, race, gender, and social structure. While this definition is undoubtedly complete and correct, it does little to tell us about the real, human consequences of social stratification. It is through an understanding of the impact of social stratification on a real human life that makes us understand the human costs. For example, the vivid descriptions of racism and scorn faced by Eudora Welty's protagonist in A Worn Path give us an understanding of the emotional consequences of racism on a single human life. This description has a much more powerful impact on our understanding of social stratification than a dry phrase like, 'social stratification impacts individuals within the African American community'. This paper will compare and contrast the theme of social stratification between a number of six important short stories. These stories are: Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown, Edgar Allen Poe's The Masque of the Red Death, Guy Maupassant's The Necklace, Eudora Welty's A Worn Path, Alice Walker's Everyday Use, and Edith Wharton's Roman Fever. While all of the stories outlined here are entertaining, they also make an important contribution to our understanding of social stratification. Fiction itself can be invaluable in providing insights into larger societal issues. Laurence Perrine notes, "Unless fiction gives us some...

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Social Stratification. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:29, August 22, 2014, from