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World War II
World War II

Contextualization: World War II was a worldwide military conflict. It consisted of two separate conflicts, one in Asia that started in 1937, and one in Europe that started in 1939. This conflict split the majority of the world in two separate sides, the Axis and the Allies. The major powers in the Axis were Nazi Germany led by Adolph Hitler, led by Benito Mussolini and Imperial Japan led by Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. The major powers of the Allies were led by Winston Churchill, the Soviet Union led by Joseph Stalin and the led by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. World War II was the most widespread war in history and saw the complete activation of many nations' economic, industrial and scientific capabilities for the purpose of war. Despite the start of the war in both the Pacific and European theatres, the remained out of the early part of the war. The President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt, wanted to help and since the war in Europe began, but congress refused. Eventually congress agreed to help give the British supplies under the Lend-Lease Act of March 11, 1941. The on December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked the with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii . Following the attack the immediately declared war on . Then on December 11, Hitler declared war on the . This officially began the involvement in the war. The United States agreed with Britain on the thought that Nazi Germany was the greater threat and focused most of their war efforts on Europe first, then Asia Second. The took part in many operations in Africa and against the Germans and Italians. On June 6, 1944 the Allies participated in the D-day landings in Normandy , . The fought in many famous battles in Europe including Operation Market Garden and The Battle of the Bulge. In the Pacific theatre, the took part in the Battle of Iwo Jima against Japanese forces from February to March of 1945. On May 7, 1945 the German forces unconditionally surrendered to the Allies, which led to V - E Day on March 8, 1945. In the Pacific theatre, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945. On August 9, the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, . On August 14, 1945 the Japanese agreed to unconditionally surrender to the Allies. On September 2, 1945, V - J Day, the Japanese sign the surrender agreement. After the war, the and the Soviet Union emerged as the two world superpowers. Meanwhile, large independence and decolonization movements took place in Asia and Africa .

Salient Points: Literature was very important during and after World War II. During the war, newspapers and journal articles kept the American public up date with the happenings of the war. In the actual war itself, writing was very important in the form of treaties, declarations and instruments of surrender. Numerous examples of this type of writing can be found at this website After the war, there was an increase in literature written about the war and the experiences of soldiers who fought in it and experienced the glory and horror of battle. One popular form of immediate post war literature is found in poems written about soldier's firsthand experiences in war. Some examples of poetry written about World War II can be found in Howard Nemerov's The Image and the Law written in 1947 and Guide to the Ruins written in 1950.

Influence on the Short Story: This topic influenced the American Short Story by the fact that the fiction written after the war mimics the anxious times of post war. Right after the war in the late 40's, many writers were preoccupied with the war and the experiences of soldiers. The war also had long term affects on American literature, since the war was fought in the defense of democracy and it ended the Great Depression, World War II was seen as a good war. During the war many women were forced to leave their homes and take jobs in the war production industry, after the war ended these women were urged to give up their jobs for the returning men, although many did not want to. Even though the fought against oppression in the war, the fight against oppression did not come back to the . Jim Crow laws against African Americans, anti-Mexican riots, the internment of Japanese Americans, and strict anti-Jewish immigration policies are just some examples of oppression that were happening on the home front. The end of World War II also brought about the emergence of the and the Soviet Union as superpowers and led to the Cold War. All of these happenings brought much anxiety to Americans and it was reflected in their post war writing. The end of the war also is attributed to the death of Modernist literature and the birth of Post-Modern literature.

Connections to our class: World War II had a tremendous impact on every aspect of life. Most of the events that happened in post war had their roots in World War II. These affects of the war are seen in the writing of Jacquelyn McLendon's writing Borderlands: Contending Voices in Postwar Writing in 1945-1999. In this writing, McLendon writes about the end of the war and the immediate affects that it had on life in . The end of World War II also brought about the end of Modernist literature and start of Post-Modern literature. Some post modern writers covered in our class include Donald Barthelme and Sandra Cisneros.