Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
Link to Alanna Stapleton's Senior Art Thesis  

Colum  McCann

Alanna  Stapleton 

The Transformation of the American Plane Industry: Meeting Military and Civilian Needs

Colum McCann's Portrayal of the Universal Human Connection

During World War II and the Cold War, American airplanes strengthened its military fighting power. War increased the use of planes, which led to an increase in production, positively impacting the American economy and aviation companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. After the wars ended, the airline manufactures no longer had asteady revenue, so they joined with commercial airlines, creating business opportunities and a more efficient way to travel. As the planes were no longer a military necessity, the airline industry focused on civilian transportation, and civilians enjoyed expanded travel opportunities. As aviation manufacturers transitioned into the commercial market, the government played a large role in requiring safety regulations. For example, Congress passed the Air Commerce Act in 1926. The American industries and the government recognized the importance of the plane for both the United States military and the civilian economy.

The American aviation industry helped to making global travel more accessible, and in a similar way, Colum McCann’s novels bridge seemingly disconnected individuals through time, relationships, and connections to global events. In Trans-Atlantic, McCann uses the first trans-Atlantic flight as a metaphor for the connection he portrays between ostensibly unrelated characters. By crafting a relationship between famed abolitionist Fredrick Douglass and the fictional character of young Irish immigrant named Lily, the author illustrates the connections that major historical events can forge, not only across social boundaries but across generations. Douglass helps Lily on her journey to America after she writes a letter about him that is handed throughout generations. Ironically, Douglass later faces the task of trying to end slavery, which contributes to the beginning of the American Civil War, which in turn results in the loss of Lily’s eldest son. The characters throughout Colum McCann’s works connect despite isolation they feel in society and the struggles that they endure.


 Link to Alanna Stapleton's Senior Art Thesis