Author Topic: Please help! - English Assignment – Book of American Character  (Read 1210 times)

Offline Shyam Subramanian

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Hey guys.  I have this assignment for my English class where I need to find the “consummate American novel” and write an essay on it, and I can’t quite figure out what novel to choose.  It has to reflect American values and character in some way and must have been written by an American author.  It doesn’t have to be a classis Huck Finn, Scarlet Letter etc. and I actually prefer it not to be, being the kind of guy who likes to choose something unique.  Some things that the rest of the people in my class are doing are Charlotte’s Web and Captain America, so that gives some perspective.

I literally have NO IDEA what book to choose.  Please help! :(  Here’s the official assignment:

THE OFFICIAL ASSIGNMENT!
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Offline Kendy

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Re: Please help! - English Assignment – Book of American Character
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 05:26:24 PM »
not really america, but this would be a great one focusing on the american teenager, especially in fairfield county lol; The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
even if you choose not to use this (it'd be a lil hard) read it anyways

Or do Way of the Peaceful Warrior, talk about the american dream, or rather, question what the true american dream is. ask if it's the material things in life or the metaphysical that are so important

Or do Fight club... that'd be funny, easy (if you focus on the cacophony society's goal instead of the fact that tyler is bat shit crazy)

Or do a serious one, like a bunch I could list if you want "serious book" ideas and where to head with them
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Offline Micah.

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Re: Please help! - English Assignment – Book of American Character
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2011, 05:33:21 PM »
Might is Right by Ragnar Redbeard and Darrell W. Conder

Offline Kendy

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Re: Please help! - English Assignment – Book of American Character
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2011, 05:35:03 PM »
Diary of a Whimpy Kid
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Offline Sparklefish

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Re: Please help! - English Assignment – Book of American Character
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2011, 08:18:48 PM »
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
Junky by William Seward Burroughs
The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson, or really any Jim Thompson novel.

NOTE: The aforementioned books have been responsible for corrupting generations of American youth, proceed with caution, and please don't treat them as how-to manuals for living. ;)

Offline Gabe Arnold

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Re: Please help! - English Assignment – Book of American Character
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2011, 08:49:42 PM »
Both of these books are technically non-fiction, so I don't know if they count as novels, but...
Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon
Walden by Henry David Thoreau

I think what might help you is to decide what qualities/values you think are American. Is it independence, desire for freedom, recklessness, excess, ambition? Are there two sides to a quality, such as a man desiring freedom so much he alienates those around him and ultimately kills himself, a la Into the Wild? Or maybe lost love and trying to fill the hole with excess, a la The Great Gatsby? If you can pin down what kind of character or values you want to write about it may help you decide what book to use.

Or sift through here and find something good. ;)
http://artofmanliness.com/2008/05/14/100-must-read-books-the-essential-mans-library/

EDIT: It's a tough read but Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy is a classic. Extremely violent and unforgiving, it'd make a hell of a paper.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2011, 09:20:55 PM by Gabe Arnold »

Offline Brian O'Neil

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Re: Please help! - English Assignment – Book of American Character
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2011, 05:44:46 AM »
I agree with On the Road and Walden.

I'd also suggest any Mark Twain book really. (I enjoy the mysterious stranger, well ahead of its time).
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Offline Ashley McCauley

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Re: Please help! - English Assignment – Book of American Character
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2011, 08:07:19 AM »
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I love this book so I'm recommending it.

But everyone else has gave some great books. :)
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Offline Kimberly Heuer

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Re: Please help! - English Assignment – Book of American Character
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2011, 09:09:33 AM »
The Road By Cormac McCarthy. An Incredibly interesting read. The basis being along the lines of : we all think we're heroes, but what do we really do when push comes to shove.

East of Eden is one of my favorite books, but it's kind of long.
Passivity is a lie, there is only movement.
Through movement, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain expression.
Through expression, my chains are broken.
Movement shall free me.

Offline Shyam Subramanian

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Re: Please help! - English Assignment – Book of American Character
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2011, 07:11:45 AM »
Alright thanks everyone for your ideas, and I finally decided on Into the Wild by Krakauer.  Wasn't a mistake, that was easily one of the best books I've ever read and I think everyone should read it to get an idea on the priorities of life :)

Again, thanks!  Hope I do well on this essay lol.
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Offline Alex Patterson

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Re: Please help! - English Assignment – Book of American Character
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2011, 08:48:20 AM »
One of my favorites ever was Grapes of Wrath. Wondeful book.