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{ American Literature and the Search for Identity Introduction to Catcher in the Rye English 11 Spring 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "{ American Literature and the Search for Identity Introduction to Catcher in the Rye English 11 Spring 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 { American Literature and the Search for Identity Introduction to Catcher in the Rye English 11 Spring 2014

2  The United States is a nation made up of many different cultures.  Each culture provides a differing view.  Questions arise about what it means to be an American, what the identity of an American is, and how one can classify him or herself in that society.  Let’s review what we’ve read so far... Identity

3 {{ American Society  Based around the New England area  Founded by those escaping religious persecution.  Government and way of life centered on a belief in a stringent God.  People identified themselves according to their beliefs, how they fit into the rigorous moral code. Literature:  Poetry: Ann Bradstreet, Edward Taylor – reflected life in the service of God.  Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God: We are all survivors because our vengeful God hasn’t deemed it necessary for us to die.  The Scarlet Letter: Each character defined him/ herself in terms of his or her sins, place in society determined by those sins. Early America: The Puritans (ca – ca.1800)

4 {{ American Society:  New idea of God in Nature  Reliance more on self than on society  Identifying oneself in terms of society was corrupting  Urged people to avoid conformity  Westward Expansion- charting/ settling new territory. Literature:  Walden: H.D. Thoreau – philosophy of life after spending two years living at Walden Pond – SIMPLIFY! SIMPLIFY!  Emerson: Focus on Self-reliance, God in Nature  “To thine own self be true.” Romantic Period: Transcendentalists (ca – ca. 1860)

5 {{ American Society:  Contrasting ideas of states rights put Americans at odds with one another.  Involvement in war shaped literature.  Slaves attempting to establish their identities as newly freed citizens  The nation struggled to rebuild after the war. Literature:  Emily Dickinson: Themes of unrequited love, nature, religion  Walt Whitman: I am an American, “I Sing America,” Song of Myself.  Frederick Douglass: (Slave Narratives) Told his stories, used them to establish where he’d come from Civil War Period and Reconstruction (ca – ca. 1900)

6 {{ American Society:  The economy moved from agrarian to industrial.  More population moving toward city life.  Conflict over World War I, The Roaring Twenties, The Great Depression, World War II.  Americans had more wealth than ever before, and lost more of it than ever before.  More regionally separated, but more connected as a whole by radio. Literature:  More regionalism in writing.  Harlem Renaissance: Art and literature of the African American experience (Langston Hughes)  The Lost Generation: Ex- Pats in Paris, among them F. Scott Fitzgerald  The Great Gatsby: Struggle for finding one’s own version of the American Dream, creating oneself into what is expected by society’s standards. Industrial Age/ Modern Age (ca – 1950)

7  Published by JD Salinger in 1951  Bildungsroman (“Education” “Novel”) – a coming of age story.  Holden Caulfield struggles with his own search for identity – what is expected of him, what he wants, what he fears about his impending adulthood, and his wish to escape it all.  Has been considered an influence on Steven Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The Catcher in the Rye


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