I'm going with pessimism. Though much more obvious in the latter works we've read, there are bits of it in every story.
Our culture has evolved a lot since the time of Benjamin Franklin. It hasn't been for the best in some aspects and hasn't changed at all in others. We have made great technological advances in science and industry, yet spirituality and moral values have declined. For example, out-of-wedlock pregnancy used to bring shame to an individual and her family. Now it's an everyday occurance. We don't give it a second thought. Adultry is another sin that people don't care about anymore. It's as if marriage vows are meaningless also.
The increase in violence shows how little value society places
on life. When things don't go as some people like, they shoot
rather than talk it out. It's an "easy" way out of
an uncomfortable situation. People are always looking for the
quick fix these days. Nobody really wants to work on their problems
themselves, they want someone else to do it for them. People
have also become increasingly self-centered. If something doesn't
work for them or fit into their lifestyle, they just throw it
out. A perfect example is the nurse in Arkansas that was executed
yesterday. Her children didn't fit into her lifestyle, so she
"threw them away." What
Race relations are also bad these days. Many Americans haven't changed their view of blacks in society. It's a shame that some can't see that we are no different or better. It's a greater shame that black people aren't compensated the same as whites are for the same work they do. Maybe one day in the near future the lines between the races will blur and we will no longer have prejudice.
Pessimism is present in nearly everything we've read the last four months. It becomes more obvious in the 20th century works though. Hopefully, one day all the endings will be happy.
This is how I would put my bulletin board together. I'd start with a little girl looking into a bird's nest thinking how she could better herself (The White Heron). I'd then go to a young man and woman spending time together with another man looking on from behind a tree (O! Pioneers). I'd use a picture of a black woman serving food to a white family to show how race relations haven't changed ("Work"). Then a black woman sitting at a desk working her way up in the world rather than selling herself out (The Street). To finish up, I'd have a man being shot(no blood, of course) to illustrate how violence has become commonplace. This is how I'd show the theme of pessimism.