American Literature Revision

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  • Created by: Dana
  • Created on: 09-02-17 12:01

The American Dream

  • Gatsby – ‘His family were enormously wealthy…it was hard to realise that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough to do that’ – relates to the idea of old money and new money, everyone (including Nick) was interested in making money – relates to the age of consumerism
  • Gatsby – ‘fifty feet away a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbour’s mansion…standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the silver pepper of the stars’ – description of Gatsby looking at Daisy’s house across the bay, shows that he has such a deep desire for her
  • Gatsby – ‘he was content to be alone…distinguished nothing but a single green light’ – theme of the American dream shown directly through the green light, shows desire and envy and emphasises how Gatsby wants to be with Daisy
  • Native Son – ‘It maddened him to think that he did not have a wider choice of action’ – Bigger knows that he is unable to ever achieve his American dream but is still disheartened by having no choice, shows the American dream for African-Americans at the time
  • Native Son – ‘that’s what we communists are fighting…you’ve read about the Scottsboro boys?’ – Communists were working towards supporting black people but this went against the typical American, relates to contextual themes of politics
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Isolation

  • Gatsby – ‘When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness’ – shows the mysterious character of Gatsby but also suggests the isolation that Nick experiences as he is an outsider of everything that happened between Jay and Daisy in the past
  • Gatsby – ‘And as I walked on I was lonely no longer. I was a guide, a pathfinder, an original settler.’ – shows that Nick feels needed and wanted now that someone asked him about the surroundings, suggests that popularity is important to everyone in America
  • Gatsby – ‘I'm glad it's a girl. And I hope she'll be a fool – that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.'" – shows the isolation of Americans but also the isolation of women, relates to the theme of gender
  • Native Son – ‘Perhaps they had not done anything. Maybe they had to live this way precisely because none of them in all their lives had ever done anything, right or wrong, that mattered much’ – shows that African Americans were very much isolated from the rest of America, also demonstrates that they were subjected to forces beyond their control
  • Native Son – ‘There was just the old feeling, the feeling that he had all his life; he was black and he had done wrong; white men were looking at something with which they would soon accuse him.’ - African Americans were so isolated from the rest of the community simply because of the colour of their skin
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Society and Class

  • Gatsby - ‘on buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors-d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads…’ – Shows how Gatsby was of a higher class than others in America, everyone was very keen to present their wealth through physical possessions
  • Gatsby – ‘and it occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as well as the difference between the sick and the well’ - Nick is finally showing the reader that no matter what people think at the time, everyone is equal (and unable to achieve their American dream)
  • Native Son – ‘Use speed gasoline’ – it is ironic that Bigger sees the sign on the plane as he is unable to use gasoline because of the social class that he is in (because he is black)
  • Native Son – ‘We wouldn’t have to live in this garbage dump if you had any manhood in you’ – Bigger’s mother wants him to go and work for a living but he is against it because he knows he is in a lower position than white people, also relates to the theme of gender
  • Native Son – ‘That was the way he lived; he passed his days trying to defeat or gratify powerful impulses in a world he feared’ – Bigger is a microcosm of African Americans at the time and is subjected to forces beyond his control because of the colour of his skin
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Wealth

  • Gatsby – ‘where ashes take the form of houses and chimneys and rising smoke’ – the Valley of Ashes is seen as a corrupt place to show the divide between the other settings in the novel, shows the lack of wealth in contrast to other places such as Gatsby’s home
  • Gatsby – ‘In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars’ – shows how wealth often meant popularity and worth, seen that money means that people were considered to be better
  • Gatsby – ‘”I thought you inherited your money.”…”I did old sport,” he said automatically, “but I lost most of it in the big panic – the panic of the war”’ – shows the contrast between old money and new money and that people were not concerned about how the money was given, only that they have money
  • Native Son – ‘Bigger could not live in a building across the ‘line’. Even though Mr Dalton gave millions of dollars for ***** education, he would rent houses to *****es only in this prescribed area, this corner of the city tumbling down from rot.’ - shows the contrast between African Americans and white Americans and the complete juxtaposition of the wealth of the two groups
  • Native Son – ‘I bet that sonofabitch rakes of a million bucks in graft a year. Boy, if I was in his shoes for just one day I’d never have to worry again’ – shows the jealousy and envy of black people of white people in Chicago
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