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Fighting for Freedom of American Identity in Literature Essay


The United States is the only country that has fought for freedom many times as compared to any other nation. The aim of any American citizen is to achieve the dream of being democratic, a superpower, diverse, and technologically ahead of others. This has played a critical role of uniting the nation and instilling values that characterize the country’s citizens globally.

America believes that a better society is developed through adoption of democracy where the state plays an important role of providing an enabling environment for individual fulfillment meaning discrimination based on gender, race, and social status is highly discouraged. The US has unique socio-political and economic institutions that are effective in serving the population.

For instance, the country is the only with a two-party system, three-levels of policing, and a unique administration that gives states semi-autonomous powers to executive important functions to the citizens, such as offering healthcare and education.

However, the usual problems that complex societies face, including racial discrimination, classism, and government’s incompetence in providing security is common in the country. This paper analyzes the three articles with an aim of enhancing understanding on the America’s struggle spirit. The articles suggest that the country’s populace never gives up in fighting for the dream to achieve diversity.

The Open Boat

The author, Stephen Crane, gives a real life story after facing several problems when the ship he boarded sunk leaving him and the four colleagues stranded for at least thirty hours in the sea. He manages to escape unhurt after the vessel hit the sandbar, but it was unfortunate for one of his friend, an oiler by the name Higgins, who perished as soon as the boat capsized. The short narrative has seven parts, with the first section introducing the main characters including the correspondent, the captain, cook, and the oiler.

In the first four sections, the sailors are unhappy about the situation and exchange harsh words against each other. They realize that nature is something very different and cannot be controlled hence they sympathize with each other (Crane, 2010).

The four men help each other to reach the shore with each taking a specific responsibility. In the final chapter, they arrive at a conclusion to swim to the safest place having been stuck for over thirty hours in the ship wreckage. Billie the oiler is unable to reach the shore, but the three men rejoice at the end.

One of the major themes in the story is the relationship between man and nature whereby the author discuses extensively the way in which man is detached from society, God, and nature. The sailors were unhappy because of problems they encountered at the sea, as they realized that nature is ambivalent. According to the author, nature does not exist to help human beings, something captured from the statement alleging that she (nature) was not kind to them, helpful, faithful, or intelligent.

This means nature does not have any effect on the existence of human beings implying individuals should decide their own destiny without relying on the supernatural. In fact, the author believes nature is feminine and exists to be improved, but not to assist human beings. In this regard, the four sailors never requested God for protection instead choosing to take appropriate actions to safe themselves.

However, the author refuses to blame God for what happened in the sea leading to untold suffering and loss of a trusted friend. Similarly, America’s struggle for freedom and diversity should not rely on nature whereby a miracle should happen, as people have to rise up to the occasion to facilitate goal realization.

Survival and harmony is an additional theme brought out clearly in the author’s short story. After encountering difficulties and extensive suffering, the characters in the story decide to team up to solve the problems. Even though each of the four men is from a different profession, the author refers to them as men, which signifies the spirit of togetherness. In the third part of the story, the writer observes that, “it would be difficult to describe the subtle brotherhood of men that was here established on the seas” (Crane, 2010).

The three men enjoyed the company of each other despite the fact they came from different professions, one being an oiler, the other a correspondent while the two were cook and captain respectively. Therefore, Americans are supposed to embrace a similar spirit if they want to succeed in achieving their dream of developing a unique culture that is accommodative of everybody.

Just as the four men dropped their ambitions and decided to join hands in solving the problems that faced them in the sea, Americans should follow suit by working hard to fight the factors that interfere with dream achievement, such as racial discrimination.

Barn Burning

The story expresses class conflicts in society, especially the ways in which they are passed on from parents to their children. The author shows that the upper class will always do everything under its power to ensure the lower class does not pose any threat. After committing a crime of burning the barn belonging to the property owner, Abner is forced to leave the town. This was after he had been taken to court and was declared not guilty for lack of evidence.

The entire family is given matching orders, including the young Snopes, but the father succeeds in acquiring a job to work as a sharecropper in the new town. Unfortunately, Abner committed a mistake that attracted a fine of twenty bushels of corn in his new job. The boss takes him to court where the fine is reduced by half, something that angered Abner to an extent of planning to set new boss’ barn ablaze (Faulkner, 2014).

The young boy is not happy about his father’s behavior of burning the property owners’ barns, as he reported his father to Major de Spain, the new boss. The property owner takes action and shoots two people who are not revealed in the story while the young boy disobeys his father and decides to live an independent life.

Loyalty is one of the themes in the story, as the boy is confused on whether to side with the family or the law. His father was keen on promoting the interests of the family even if it meant breaking the law. Snopes informs Sartoris that loyalty to the family is paramount if he does not want to be lonely. Blood is used to signify the intensity of ties among family members. The boy was willing to confront a friend who was accusing his father of being a barnburner.

Even though he was hit hard, the blood in his face was a sign of pride, as he had defended the name of the family. However, Sartoris refused to follow the footsteps of his father after realizing it was against the law to burn somebody’s barns. He decided to live an independent life free of conflicts. In the American society, classism is one of the problems facing the society, as children from poor families rarely interact with those from rich families.

To achieve the American dream, people are advised to emulate Sartoris and break away from tradition to embrace unity and cooperation irrespective of social, physical, and economic differences. Panic, sorrow, and misery characterized the life of Sartoris meaning the search for peace is another theme in the story.

The boy alleges that his family was far from aching harmony, happiness, and dignity because of the actions of senior Snopes. It took time for Sartoris to find peace meaning the American populace should always be patient and willing to cooperate to achieve the dream.

A Raisin in the Sun

The story depicts the life of a poor family living in Washington, with Walter, Younger Ruth, Travis, and Beneatha being the main characters. Walter works as a driver, but he feels it is not enough to sustain the family given the high costs of products. He aspires to be a rich person in the village, even though Ruth seems satisfied with what is available in the family. The family is involved in a conflict arising from mama’s insurance fund, as Walter claims he has a right to enjoy the money.

After much pressure, mama gives Walter the rest of the money to invest after acquiring a new department for the family. Unfortunately, Walter hands over the money to his friend Bobo who shares it with Willy depriving both Beneatha and Walter of the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Before the family moved into their new house, one the neighbors decides to refund their money because they were blacks and could not interact with whites. Walter surprises the family by accepting the money and looking for the house elsewhere.

Beneatha comes of age and meets two different men, one being an assimilated African while the other is an ordinary black with pure culture. The assimilated boyfriend hates the poor Africans and blames them for their condition while the one with pure black culture believes in equality, as he does not think any of the cultures is strong. Beneatha learns that liberation from defective culture, which is a source of poverty, is the first step towards salvation.

From this short story, value and purpose of dream is an important theme because various characters try to deal with personal problems that impede goal attainment. Beneatha wanted to be a doctor in her entire lifetime implying that her dream was to pursue education to the highest level. Walter’s intention was to be the richest person in the village, as this would allow him to buy anything for the family.

Even though some members of the Younger family managed to achieve their dreams, they realized that collective dreams and aspirations, such as acquisition of the house, is the most important because it brings unity (Hansberry, 2012). Therefore, the American dream should be to develop the country because it facilitates individual fulfillment of goals and objectives. The need to fight all forms of discrimination is the second theme in the story that attracts attention.

Mr. Lindner wanted to return the money to the Younger family because they were blacks hence they were not supposed to mingle with the whites. The governing body was concerned with Younger’s presence in the white-dominated neighborhood and decided to bribe some family members to keep off the place. This problem has always affected many people in the United States, as whites are reluctant to live peacefully with blacks in their estates. In fact, this interferes with dream realization given the fact it kills the morale of blacks.

Critic of the Open Boat

Elbert Hubbard was one of the critics of the works of Stephen Crane, as he believed the author was a realist who saw life as a struggle between various nature and human beings. In this regard, survival is for the fittest and the less fit are selected against. In this view, Hubbard accused Crane of interpreting the relationship between human beings and nature wrongly because nature supports and facilitates life. Unfortunately, human beings are brutal, anarchic, and calculative in the sense that one’s loss is the other’s benefit.

Without people, nature could still exist, but people cannot exist without nature implying a positive relationship exists between the natural world and human beings. For instance, people are in need of trees and other natural resources for survival and Crane’s claim that nature does not have any role to play is misplaced.

According to Hubbard, God exists and this explains why the four men were able to survive for forty hours in the deep sea, with one of them dying in the last minutes. Human beings existing in the state of nature are chaotic, but nature itself is not chaotic, as it is supportive of life.


Crane, S. (2010). The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure. Boston: Mobile Reference Publishing.

Faulkner, W. (2014). Barn burning: Short story. Toronto: HarperCollins.

Hansberry, L. (2012). A raisin in the sun: Drama in three acts. Stuttgart: Reclaim Publishing.

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"Fighting for Freedom of American Identity in Literature." IvyPanda, 26 Mar. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/fighting-for-freedom-of-american-identity-in-literature/.

1. IvyPanda. "Fighting for Freedom of American Identity in Literature." March 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/fighting-for-freedom-of-american-identity-in-literature/.


IvyPanda. "Fighting for Freedom of American Identity in Literature." March 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/fighting-for-freedom-of-american-identity-in-literature/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Fighting for Freedom of American Identity in Literature." March 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/fighting-for-freedom-of-american-identity-in-literature/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Fighting for Freedom of American Identity in Literature'. 26 March.

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