This period was marked by great social and economic changes, new political ideas and liberation movement. Dreiser gives a special attention to details and settings, emotions and deep feelings experienced by his characters. Stephen Crane (1971-1900) represents a war literature marked by sufferings and casualties of war, deaths and fear. He did not take part in the Civil War by many of his works reflect war experience and themes of heroism. In his works, Stephen Crane pays a special attention to naturalistic settings which reflect emotions of characters and their inner struggle. Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) represents a modernist movement in literature. Her writing style is based on acute irony and sarcasm, humor and mockery. This historical period was marked by social changes and feminist movement, changing ideals and political confrontations: the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile crisis.
"The Open Boat" by Stephen Crane was written in 1897. Human nature and morality are the main issues discussed by Crane. To unveil these themes, Crane uses naturalistic settings and nature. The theme of choice is unveiled through struggle and morality of the main characters. The Crane points out that: "the ethics of their condition was decidedly against any open suggestion of hopelessness" (Crane 45). The correspondent is a person who fights with his own imperfection trying to apply ethical standards in this very situation. The important feature is that the readers do not know his name, as he is one of those men in the boat. The main idea is that a man should take a true journey alone, and the men who made these were heroes themselves in the true sense.
The "Lottery" criticizes absence of human dignity and morals through the theme of collective choice and traditions. Shirley Jackson shows that readers perception of the world is limited by traditions and values imposed by their society. A lottery always symbolizes great expectations and hope for a big prize which can change the life of a person or a family for the good. Similar to Crane, Jackson portrays that people follow low morals and false values trying to save their lives. Be a good sport, Tessie." Mrs. Delacroix called, and Mrs. Graves said, "All of us took the same chance." "Shut up, Tessie," Bill Hutchinson said" (Jackson, n.d.). In contrast to Crane's naturalistic settings, the story is influenced by traditions and middle class values.
In the short story "Free", Dreiser uses the same techniques as Jackson and Crane. On the one hand, he creates an idea of choice using irony and sarcasm, and the other hand he uses natural settings and themes of nature to unveil inner struggle of men. Through the idea of choice, Dreiser describes that the men are responsible for their actions and desires. In contrast to Crane, Dreiser depicts the main character as a person full of life experience, but still has not found the truth of life. The short story is based on opposite feelings and emotions which reflect inner psychological state of the characters. Put all of these together the author creates a complicated emotional mix. In Jackson's and Crane's works protagonists are the only characters to sustain a conflict with the harsh materialistic world supported by dogmas. Now there surfaced the long interior conflict between natural respect for the past