Writing this reflective essay about the experience of studying American literature has made me realize that I have a lot to learn about what America had been in the past. Reading and studying American literature classics would make anyone realize that most of the novels written by the great American writers like Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and J.D. Salinger, among other authors, are reflections of American culture during the time their respective novels were written.
Some of these novels also reflected political innuendos and were written by the authors to express disdain for a particular political figure during the time. One of the Great American Novels that has really made such an impact on me was Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick,” the story of several sailors onboard a whaling ship and how their exploits on capturing a whale lead to only one survivor. The novel examines the concepts of social status and class, evil and good, and God’s existence.
This reflective essay about the experience of studying American literature also had me pondering on the issues of racism in the country. One of the great American novels that touch on this delicate subject is Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Written in the first-person, Mark Twain’s literary masterpiece is a caustic look at entrenched attitudes like racism and identity.
“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” which was published in 1885 in the United States, had accurately described the conditions of racism during the late 1800s. The book also used extensively the word “nigger,” which is considered an offensive word nowadays. Upon reading this novel, I came to realize that society’s attitude to race has positively changed.
Even though there are isolated stories of racism at this time, African Americans and the whites are living in harmony with one another. The novel also talks about the slavery situation of the 1800s, and we know how in the 21st century, slavery in the United States has been largely abolished.
J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” captures various issues of American society including angst, teenage confusion, rebellion, and alienation. It deals with complicated issues of belonging, identity, alienation, and connection. This story had touched me to the core. The story means that change is inevitable. One cannot remain a child forever and one cannot protect his or her loved ones from pitfalls of society. It is a touching tale on learning and how one has to fail before succeeding in any endeavor.
The issues of society touched in most of the Great American Novels are still applicable to us today. Racism still has to be dealt with and there will always be corrupt officials. However, upon writing my reflective essay about the experience of studying American literature, I came to know that the greatness of the country has stemmed from the people’s steadfastness in their individuality, and principles.