What is American Literature? ("Song of Myself" -- Walt Whitman,…
What is American Literature?
Benito Cereno -- Herman Melville
Major themes include grey areas, power, insecurity, citizenship, anxiety, nationhood
America is in a constant state of grey. There was a fine line between blacks and whites in America, but there was always something that kept them together despite the bad circumstances.
"The ship seems unreal; these strange costumes, gestures, and faces, but a shadowy tableau just emerged from the deep which directly must receive back what it gave." (6)
In a way, there are so many different things happening all at once, but it all comes back from one place. Comparing this to Americans, we all come from different places-- but we're all still human.
"Song of Myself" -- Walt Whitman
Major themes include togetherness, death, progression, relevancy of individuals
In one way or another, everyone has to come together to work together. Despite America's setbacks, we have still come a long way. Everyone has a part in America's story.
Walt Whitman doesn't ever bring up race in his set of poems, only how lucky we are to be alive and that we're one with everything.
"Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?"
The Yellow Wallpaper -- Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Major themes include gender roles, oppression, mental illness, labor and work, perspective
America has progressed immensely when women were able to verbalize their beliefs, especially on pen and paper.
However, the woman in
The Yellow Wallpaper
wasn't able to speak for herself unless it was in her journal, but she ultimately went insane.
"He is very careful and loving, and
hardly lets me stir without special direction. "
Her husband didn't let her do anything without his permission, and a lot of women were treated this way. But in the end, she finally was able to be her true self, but at what cost?
"I, Too" -- Langston Hughes
Major themes include patriotism, cultural identity, race, oppression, progression
, the mixing of both blacks and whites are somewhat of a weird thing. But what does it really mean to be an American?
"I, too, sing America."
"I, too, am America."
To be American, you must embody what America is and embrace it in all of its glory. To
America, you need to
For Langston Hughes, being American isn't just the skin tone.
"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" -- Langston Hughes
Major themes include connection, perseverance, race, freedom
African Americans aren't lesser than anyone else, they are as capable as anyone else, and are able to experience life just as much as anyone else.
"I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset."
In Hughes' poem, he speaks about "looking upon the Nile" and hearing "the singing of the Mississippi." The Nile and Mississippi Rivers are so far from one another, and in a way, he is speaking about his experiences as a Black man in America. In a sense, he's seen it all.
Daisy Miller: A Study -- Henry James
Major themes include ambiguity, concerns with knowing, gender, old versus new, age, sex and desire
There is a mix between traditional and non-traditional ways of thinking (Winterbourne who is a man of leisure and Daisy who is emotional, tempermental, and quirky).