The Magic Barrel Historical Context

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Malamud's "The Magic Barrel" was first published by the Partisan Review in 1954 and reprinted as the title story in Malamud's first volume of short fiction in 1958. The period between those two dates was an eventful time in American history. In 1954 the United States Supreme Court unanimously rejected the concept of segregation in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, which found that the practice of maintaining separate classrooms or separate schools for black and white students was unconstitutional.

In the same year Senator Joseph McCarthy was censured by the Senate for having unjustly accused hundreds of Americans of being communists. In 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first satellite to successfully orbit the earth, sparking concern that the Soviets would take control of space.

While the text of "The Magic Barrel" is almost entirely free of topical or historical references that might allow readers to place the...

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This section contains 553 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Magic Barrel Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Magic Barrel from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.