In Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel, Margaret Leonard says, “Never brain approximately algebra the following. That’s for negative parents. There’s no use for algebra the place and make five.” Moments of mathematical reckoning like this pervade twentieth-century southern literature, says Melanie R. Benson. In fiction through a wide, various crew of authors, together with William Faulkner, Anita bogs, William Attaway, Dorothy Allison, and Lan Cao, Benson identifies a calculation-obsessed, anxiety-ridden discourse within which numbers are hired to figure out social and racial hierarchies and determine person worthy and identity.
This “narcissistic fetish of quantity” speaks to a tangle of wishes and denials rooted within the heritage of the South, capitalism, and colonialism. nobody evades participation in those “disturbing equations,” says Benson, in which eager for elevate, accumulation, and superiority collides with repudiation of the skill during which fabric wealth is attained. Writers from marginalized groups―including African americans, local american citizens, girls, immigrants, and the poor―have deeply internalized and co-opted tools and tropes of the grasp narrative at the same time they've got struggled to wield new voices unmarked via the discourse of the colonizer.
Having nominally emerged from slavery’s legacy, the South is now positioned within the agonized house among unfastened marketplace capitalism and social progressivism. Elite southerners paintings to distance themselves from capitalism’s dehumanizing mechanisms, whereas the marginalized yearn to achieve the uniquely American narrative of accumulation and ascent. The fetish of numbers emerges to suggest the futility of both.