Coda: White-Collar Blues

Andrew Lawson

in Downwardly Mobile

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199828050
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933334 | DOI:
Coda: White-Collar Blues

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This chapter concludes the book’s discussion of the class politics of realism by focusing on a poem by the San Francisco writer Edwin Markham, “The Man with the Hoe” (1899), which was hailed in the year of its publication as speaking directly to the “average man.” Locating the poem within the context of divisions between San Francisco’s business elite and the city’s working and lower-middle classes, the chapter shows how the suffering of the rural poor became a trope for specifically urban experiences of competition and inequality. It describes Markham’s poem as a summation of the nineteenth century preference for the real – the low, the concrete, and the particular -- and identifies the conflict between individual aspiration and collective solidarities as an enduring characteristic of the lower middle class.

Keywords: realism; lower middle class; white collar; san francisco

Chapter.  4438 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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