Strout's Is There An American Literary Tradition

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How has the American literary tradition evolved throughout time and what influenced it? That is the question that the writings presented throughout the course serves to answer. In his article, “Is There an American Literary Tradition?” Sanford Pinsker comments on what Gushing Strout thinks defines American literature. Strout lists some of the different characteristics that appeals which includes “the lure of upward mobility; religion and the lovers’ triangle; reforming the relation between the sexes…fictionalizing history; and the American dilemmas of slavery and race” (Pinsker “Is There an American Literary Tradition”). Like Strout describes, most of the works in the course apply some of these themes that were even heavily influenced by the…show more content…
In this case, Paine focuses explicitly on the parent-child relationship shared between Britain and the colonies in the moments leading up to the American Revolution. For example, Paine acknowledges that “Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young; nor savages make war upon their families…” (Paine 422). Since Britain is supposedly this parental figure to its precious colonies, one would expect better treatment towards its colonies. Paine’s harsh and vile language that he uses (“brutes,” “savages”) contributes to the bold and defiant tone that Paine takes on in his essay. He is confident to the reader that Britain is the enemy and has committed many faults towards the colonies by giving the idea that they were un-parent like. By establishing this parent-child connection, the American literary tradition takes on a new, more profound bold and authoritative…show more content…
Like Self-Reliance, Whitman voices his displeasure of something: American politics, culture, and values and the effect that it has on its national literature. Since America lacks a distinct culture and identity, it has affected its literature greatly. For example, Whitman says “…but breathe your breath of life into our New World’s nostrils—not to enslave us, as now, but, for our needs, to breed a spirit like your own—perhaps, (dare we to say it?) to dominate, even destroy, what you yourselves have left!” (Whitman 1169). Like the nation, Whitman is divided on where the United States stands on its national identity and therefore its national literature. According to Whitman, if we rely too much on the cultures and influences of other countries, how will Americans develop their own distinct culture and identity? Also, the form of the essay is very unorganized and which is parallel to the state of the nation during the Civil War. Although Whitman has a bold and defiant stance on American literature, he takes no specific form in which to present his ideas in the essay. It appears as if he just states them as they come across his mind. With the Civil War looming and people beginning to take sides, the unorganized style of the essay reflects
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