Thursday, May 28, 2015

Struggles of the Working Class

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho.

Many Americans deny social classes exist in the United States. Oh, how we fight against the idea that not everyone is equal!

But as writers, we must detach ourselves from culture and look at the bigger picture. No matter what Americans claim, social classes in the United States exist. Some want to climb in social standing, and cannot attain. And there are those who have social standing, and hold it over those who struggle just to survive.

One example is our public school system. But our job is not to change society, but to make commentary. So we won't discuss schools here.

Great novels have a fight between the classes. Inside readers, the struggle between the have and the have nots is compelling, perhaps the most compelling storyline ever written. But Americans refuse to admit social classes exist. Is this why there are so few American literary geniuses that stand the test of time?

There are a few American writers who do understand. America’s greatest writers understood social classes in the United States.

Mark Twain made light of the struggles between the African American community and their masters. But easily read between the lines are the struggles that still resonate with readers today.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a perfect example that social classes make for a compelling story. Many critics believe this may be the greatest novel ever written.

John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is a close look at the plight of the working class. Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick is an incredible snapshot of social classes aboard the ship. William Faulkner’s Snopes Trilogy follows a family’s slow rise in social standing.

A compelling novel includes social injustice. First, admit social classes exist within Amercia, and you’ve gone a long way into making a page-turner! Pull your head out of your culture and take a look around!

Philip Anderson keeps his past close to the vest. Haunted by the murder of his parents as they traveled West in their covered wagon, his many unanswered questions about that night still torment him. 
His only desire is to live quietly on his homestead and raise horses. He meets Anna, a beautiful young woman with secrets of her own. Falling in love was not part of his plan. Can Philip tell her how he feels before it’s too late?
With Anna a pawn in the corrupt schemes brewing in the nearby Dakota town, Philip is forced to become a reluctant gunslinger. Will Philip’s uncannily trained horses and unsurpassed sharpshooting skills help him free Anna and find out what really happened to his family out there in the wilderness?


Nicole said...

I used to call it the "caste system" when I was in high school (a long time ago), but then the social strata in that atmosphere wasn't based on economic or inherited "class", it was more a case of basic attractiveness and a few extra liberties taken by the "popular crowd". But, yeah, there is definitely a societal structure, more in certain areas of the country than in others and usually more in the larger more metropolitan cities or the old cities of our nation.

Peter Leavell said...

Good thoughts, Nicole. And the tensions it causes makes for a great story!

Michael Ehret said...

I belong to the social class just above dogs. I get to lord my alleged superiority over them daily. They just laugh, wag their tails, and continue to love me unconditionally. I think they talk about me, kindly, behind my back and chortle. Glad they aren't cats.

Ane Mulligan said...

I chuckling at Mike's comment. That's about right on the dogs, and your sure are lucky they aren't cats. Then you'd be in an even lower social class. ;o)

Peter Leavell said...

Wow, imagine the struggle dogs must go through to be noticed for more than their cuteness... A compelling story.