Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward. New York: New American Library, 1888, 2000
In Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy argued that one of the most significant problems facing America in 1887 was the reoccurring fight between the laborers and the industrial factory owners that they worked for. To understand the industrial conflict that Bellamy depicts, the reader must understand the personalities and characteristics of Bostonians in 1880’s.
Before he enters his extended sleep, Julian West, the main character, describes the absence of flexibility and freedom inherent in the clothes women wore in the 1880’s in Boston. West thinks that women’s attire closely resemble costumes with the purpose of deforming women’s natural beauty. Bellamy views the women of his time as “dehumanized” by the dresses that they are expected to wear. He foresees a time when women will have more freedom to choose the clothing of which to drape their feminine figures. However massive and preserving the fashion of 1887 was, Bellamy confesses that the beauty of women still shines through their cloth disguises (9). While women’s clothing seems a bit of a silly topic of discussion, the need for fire and warmth is quite important.
Bellamy involves his lack of amusement with reliance on a heating source as primitive as wood that is being used in the Boston of 1887. The dialogue between Dr. Leete, Julian West’s host in the year 2000, and West himself, gives animation to Bellamy’s displeasure and frustration. When Dr. Leete asks West what became apparent to him upon his introduction to the Boston of Leete’s day, West’s answer reveals his observant and sensitive nature. West answers that what most impressed him was the absence of chimney smoke across the horizon. Dr. Leete recalls how the Bostonian’s way of heat was now an ancient form of heating that has since been found obsolete and replaced by more accommodating means of heat exchange (27). While a bit primitive, burning...