Stein, Picasso, And African Masks Analysis

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Register to read the introduction… Dialect, as a “use” of language, directly confronts the formality of language, and challenges assertions of correctness and formal structure, contrasting “what poses as natural to its own conventions.” In creating a work centered in the dialect of the characters, Stein brings the efficacy of language into question by subverting reality through the use of reality. North argues that by establishing repetitive dialect as a means by which Melanctha and Jeff root themselves in their world, Stein destabilizes the interpretation of language; making the same words have contextually different meanings. The “verbal mask” establishes a fundamental opposition between linguistic formality and the clarity that linguistic formality intends to …show more content…
They both characterize the effect of Stein’s use of masks as a process that, by obscuring and confusing the boundaries of convention, undermines conceptions of the dichotomy of structures such as gender or nature and culture. However, North focuses more on Stein’s use of dialect in bringing together ideas such as “truth and falsehood, concrete reality and fantasy,” so that the disparate aspects become indistinguishably combined, and represent the “indeterminacy” that “undermines the associated differences of race and gender.” In addition to concluding that Stein’s style serves to “destabilize prevailing racial and ethnic stereotypes,” Rowe constructs a framework through which to understand Three Lives as a proposal of an alternative to “rationalist and technocratic social values,” and as an exploration of literary representation. Together, the two essays build an image of Stein’s use of language and structure as a means by which to escape conventional preconceptions and representations, and to begin an exploration of American literary

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