William Dean Howells is often called the “father of American Realism” which basically means that he tried to write about the more common people and break away from the sentimentalism which had prevailed. He wrote stories about society as he saw it at the time – 1860s-1910s. The Rise of Silas Latham was first published in 1885 – the height of the Gilded Age but there was also an economic “depression” in the years 1882-1885. I believe these are suggested in the narrative – in both business and social attitudes.
Setting – business is booming, people are busily involved in “conspicuous consumption.” Boston had a very stratified social society at the time made up of aristocrats from Europe and millionaires from the US many long, long term residents – old money. This was along with a poor immigrant class but they aren’t really shown in the novel except for some hired help. >>>>MORE>>>>