Suttree Social Sensitivity

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Suttree is a novel that takes a long, hard, detailed look at the basic concepts of society and what we call "civilization." The assumption that civilization represents a positive advance for the human race is questioned and challenged by the very fabric of the narrative.

The main character, Cornelius Suttree, despite his intelligence, education, and middle-class background, decides to live on a houseboat on the Tennessee River on the outskirts of Knoxville. He is a fisherman by profession. His lifestyle of voluntary poverty forces him to engage in a vigorous struggle to survive on a day-to-day basis. He not only sees poverty; he lives it. His friends form the very lowest class of society: They are sympathetically portrayed street bums, criminals, perverts, and other societal outcasts. Like Suttree, readers see the "benefits" of civilization up close and firsthand.

Just as the entire city of Knoxville is...

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This section contains 220 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the Suttree Study Guide
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