American Literature Essay Research Paper American Literature

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American Literature Essay, Research Paper American Literature: Its importance on Society and Our Lives The most influential invention of the history of mankind is that of the printing press. With its invention, people were awaking to the world around them. The printing press enabled people to learn of events in other parts of the world in the comfort of their own home. But with the rise in technology we no longer relay on this form of medium to get the news and the information of the world. Instead we use the printed word to experience the harshness of the New York streets, live in a small town in Ohio, and listen first hand to the voice of jazz. The printed word exposes us to the idea’s and thoughts of a particular character. It lets us look through someone else’s eyes.

Through the novels Winsburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, Maggie: a Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane, and the short story “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin, one discover that American literature helps us understand and come to terms with society, other’s point of view, and helps us express ourselves through the use of words. American literature helps one understand other people’s thoughts and beliefs. It is important that as a society we understand other people’s opinions and are intolerable to those opinion. This must be accomplished in order for us to function as a society. Literature is a way of understanding other people. For example in the book Winesburg, Ohio we are introduced to the character of Elmer Cowley. He is an odd character and everyone in the story

thinks of him as “queer.” When we read his story, however, we realize that his queerness comes from his struggle to be normal. After an outbreak in his Mumaw 2 attempt to be like everyone else, Anderson writes, “the passion that had been the cause of his outburst in the store began to again find expression. ‘I will not be queer – one to be looked at and listened to,’ he declared aloud. ‘I’ll be like other people’” (107). If we understand why people do not fit in we can then help them conform to society. Another way of looking at someone else’s point of view, is to see how they feel during a certain situation. In the fight against child abuse, it is helpful to know what the child is going through. To know how much they are hurting. In Maggie we are able to

see just that. We are able to witness first hand the detrimental experience of a mother hitting her child. Crane illustrates, “The mother’s massive shoulders heaved with anger. Grasping the urchin by the neck and shoulders she shook him until he rattled… Jimmie screamed in pain and tried to twist his shoulders out of the clasp of the huge arms” (81). Although we are exposed to the tribulation of a mother’s hand, through literature we also are exposed to other individuals more positive, enlighten feelings and experiences. The effect that music has on someone can only be witnessed through someone else’s eyes. “Sonny’s Blues” is just another example of what literature can do. James Baldwin describes blues by writing, “[Creole] hit something in all of them, he hit

something in me, myself, and the music tightened and deepened, apprehension began to beat the air. Creole began to tell us what the blues were all about” (69). Blues is a beautiful piece of art and to see its effect on people makes it even that much more beautiful. In addition to helping one understand other people, Literature is a way of talking about social problems. In order to learn about the problems that this country is going through one must ether experience it or read about it. Through literature we can learn why these problems exist. Alcoholism is a huge problem in society. The effects of Mumaw 3 acholism harmful to the person taking the drink. In Winesburg, Ohio, Anderson writes of the consequences that alcohol has on Tom forester. Anderson describes, “Tom got drunk