Social Protest in American Popular Novels of 1990s: A Cultural Study


It is sometimes or even commonly believed that popular novels are not as significant as elite novels and they are written and read solely for the purpose of entertainment. The main goal of this article is to show that popular novels have the same value and because they have a much wider audience, they have a stronger influence on people than elite novels. The article achieves this goal by proving that these novels are concerned with social protest. Julia Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1991), Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club (1996), Joe Klein’s Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics (1996), Toni Morrison’s Paradise (1997), and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999) are five of the most well-known American popular novels in 1990s which addressed the social problems of the decade. The present article intends to examine social protest in these novels using the principles of cultural studies and according to some key figures in this field. The article offers a full investigation into these social issues in the novels: hardships of African-Americans, racism, patriarchy, hardships of adolescent life, hardships of living in a capitalist society, lost generation, consumerism, political corruption, immigration, assimilation and loss of identity. After examining all these issues, it is concluded that all these popular novels are concerned with social protest and thus they can be considered as significant as elite novels and maybe more significant due to their controversial quality and their wider range of readers.

Keywords: 1990s, Cultural Studies, Popular Novels, Social Protest, social problems

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 57-69 (Download PDF)

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