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American Literature Essay Examples and Topics

The process of writing an essay on American literature should begin with the creation of an outline. The structure lists the essential points you want to cover in the paper and provides you with a framework you will use to write it.

The finished result should adhere to the initial list. However, you can modify it if you find new matters you want to discuss.

Without a clear outline, your American literature essay may appear weak and disconnected. A work that has one will appear more interesting and convincing, even if it contains the same ideas.

When writing an outline for an essay, you should first list all of the ideas that come to your mind when thinking of the topic.

They do not necessarily have to be contained solely within the work. For example, you can research the author’s life and identify a connection between his ideas and romanticism.

Then, you will reduce the number of ideas by folding some of them into other, related ones as lesser mentions. Lastly, organize the order in which you will cover the topics so that it follows a logical progression.

Here are some tips for your outline creation:

  • Always include an introduction and conclusion into your outline. They are critical elements for a literature essay.
  • When writing critical essays on American literature, try to associate each major point with an external piece of evidence.
  • Try to choose your themes so that they are connected. This will make it easier to maintain a progression between different topics.
  • Choose your titles and subtitles so that they are clear and concise.

To find American literature research paper ideas and American literature topics as well as samples that illustrate the process of outline creation, visit IvyPanda.

1089 Best Essay Topics on American Literature

“The Sky Is Gray” by Ernest Gaines

Bassett is mostly an offstage character, and when on stage, he exists as Dr. Pride is one of the elements in the narrative and appears as social behavior in today's society.
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 305

The Book “Our Secrets” by Susan Griffin

This claim is informed by the fact that the book has the potential of confusing the average reader. The evidence that is used to back up this claim is Griffin's references of World War II.
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 665

“A Summer Tragedy” by Arna Bontemps

The story is set near the Mississippi River, in the fertile lands of New Orleans. The Patton's love each other so much, and their affection is shown in the story.
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 404

“The Caretaker” by Anthony Doerr

Liberia descends to anarchy and lawlessness, and he runs for dear life and finds himself in a different country, thousands of miles from his.
  • Pages: 1
  • Words: 334

“Scarlett and the Sinkhole” by Padgett Powell

The tone that the narrator uses is a complete contrast to this sad condition. The narrator should have used a more appropriate manner that is evidence or characteristic of Scarliotti's situation.
  • Pages: 1
  • Words: 182

“Sea Oak” by George Saunders

Sea oak illustrates the Capitalist society showing the stark contrast between the rich and the poor, the working class, and the non-working class.
  • Pages: 6
  • Words: 346

Laura Wexler’s Book “Fire in a Canebrake”

Wexler discusses the murder of Roger and Dorothy Malcolm and George and Mae Dorsey in detail, while paying much attention to the causes of the killings, to the racial component, and to the personalities of [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 810

“A&P” a Short Story by John Updike

This product display forms a landmark for the narrator to track the progress of the trio of girls. This is a big car to hold the screaming mom and kids.
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 949

“A Darkling Plain” a Book by Kristen Monroe

For example, Frank the Soldier jokes about the experiences of his life during the war in a bid to cover up the horrible experiences of the war. Other people retain their humanity by repressing and [...]
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 1117

“Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” a Novel by Art Spiegelman

Intertwined throughout the story is the turbulent and pragmatic relationship between Art and his elderly father. This was the root of the overwrought relationship that existed between Vladek and his son because he held his [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 306

Tayo in “Ceremony” by Leslie Marmon Silko

In the book Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, the author brings into light Tayo, the main protagonist in the story, his relations with other characters in the book and brings out the effects of these [...]
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 1354

“About Men” a Book by Gretel Ehrlich

She starts by introducing herself and where she comes from and thus informing the reader that she has experience of whatever she is about to discuss. The theme is developed throughout the essay by a [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 568

“The Grapes of Wrath” the Book by John Steinbeck

In company with other 'Okies,' they tried to find land, dignity, employment, and future for their children.'The Grapes of Wrath' begins with a representation of the Dust Bowl, the incident that brings about all that [...]
  • Pages: 6
  • Words: 1669

“A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor

After all, as the author shows in this particular story, it is named on the account of self-righteous/pious but perceptually arrogant individuals that the saying "road to hell is made out of good intentions" continues [...]
  • Pages: 6
  • Words: 1665

African American Literature Digest Continued

The principal theses of the article are easy to enumerate; these are the origin of the African American literature, the stages of its development, its most famous writers and their impact on the literature and [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 1052

“Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls

The entire story is a documentation of the happiness that the dogs brought to Bill, and its conclusion is practically an illustration of how fond memories always stay with the individuals left behind after the [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 232

“Recitatif” a Book by Toni Morrison

The author leads the reader through the intricacy of the events occurring to Twyla and Roberta and does not provide the reader with exact information about the girls' race.
  • Pages: 8
  • Words: 2246

“The Short Bus” by Jonathan Mooney

Although most of his meetings are beautiful and inspiring stories, some of the encounters represent the communicational issues that are inevitable in interaction with the people, who have been isolated from the society due to [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 556

Octavia’s “Kindred”: Crossing Genre Boundaries

Therefore, "Kindred" remains one of the few novels that allow understanding the emotional core of the relationships between African Americans and White Americans and specify the effects that the choice between slavery and freedom has [...]
  • Pages: 6
  • Words: 1714

The Short Story “Borders” by Thomas King

Being a person of Cherokee origin, the author is concerned with discussing the problems of the First Nations, paying focused attention to cultural heritage, and the disadvantages of total assimilation.
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 637

Ethnic Identity in Asian American Literature

Therefore, the search for the possibilities of natural assimilation and the acceptance of different nationalities living in the same territory is an essential and responsible task.
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 890

“Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving

At the same time, the story draws a parallel to the uprising itself, with the tyranny of Rip's wife leading him to try and escape, only for this woman to disappear before his return.
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 843

“The Walking Dead” Graphic Novel by Kirkman

The combination of its setting in a ravenous world and details adding to the suspense that soars in the novel due to the careful use of shadows and line work keeps readers on their toes, [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 578

American Stories for Secondary Education Classes

The short story describes the adventures of a Dutch settler who lives idly in a small village in the times preceding the turmoil of the American Civil War and enjoys the simple pleasures of strolling [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 842

Paul Bunyan’s Contribution to American Folklore

The history of Paul Bunyan is therefore attributable to the oral traditions of many loggers in Pennsylvania. The character of Bunyan was eventually popularized by William Laughead towards the end of the 19th century.
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 562

“The Shame of the Nation” a Book by Jonathan Kozol

In his book, Kozol presented the stories and events that were a part of his personal experiences and motivated him to focus on the research of the problems of institutional racism and the normalization of [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 830

“Inherent Vice” by Thomas Pynchon

In this way, Shasta's image can be regarded as a metaphor of time, and the hero's search for her can be seen as resistance against the course of time.
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 1180

“Everyday Use” Story by Alice Walker

As a result, she can be considered a reliable narrator as she describes both of her daughters honestly and without skipping over any of the unpleasant bit of their backgrounds such as the fire that [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 648

“The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane

The central characters, the correspondent, the captain, the oiler, and the cook, are all survivors of a shipwreck which left them stranded in the water in a small and flimsy dinghy.
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 640

“First Person Plural” by Cameron West

The reader, who gets deeply engaged in the narrative, feels a kind of false hope that Cameron is going to get better when he leaves for California with his family and starts to undergo treatment [...]
  • Pages: 5
  • Words: 1385

“Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison

Ruth did not abandon her affection for her father even as an adolescent, their goodnight kiss ritual, motivated by her seeing her mother as a rival due to the latter's lack of maternal care, was [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 496

“Tortilla Flat” by John Steinbeck

One of the most notable aspects of a contemporary living in the West is that, as time goes on, more and more people tend to adopt a highly individualistic approach to addressing life-challenges while assuming [...]
  • Pages: 6
  • Words: 1661

“The Wind” a Novel by Dorothy Scarborough

The author focuses on the thoughts of the protagonist, Letty Mason, and shows the world through her eyes. Letty is a young woman that is not prepared to live in the harsh environment of her [...]
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 1192

The Green Mile: Interview with Stephen King

I cannot help but agree with this fact because this powerful combination of the novel and the movie helps to understand each character better, develop a personal attitude to the author of the novel, and [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 878

“To Build a Fire” a Story by Jack London

Another of the details that support the postulation that the main idea of the story is that assumptions can kill is the inability of the main character to recognize his limitations.
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 848

“The Color Purple” a Novel by Alice Walker

Thus, the recognition of an individual in the society, the respect of the individual rights and freedoms are fundamental in the determination of a person as a part of that society.
  • Pages: 5
  • Words: 1379

“The Poisonwood Bible” a Novel by Barbara Kingsolver

The dramatic story with dense and dynamic plot narrated on behalf of five women the priest's wife and daughters, unfolds the large-scale picture of the country which failed to withstand the pressure of colonialism and [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 557

“Travels With Charley” a Book by John Steinbeck

Although his participation is sometimes attributed to the author's fascination with dogs, Charley actually serves two functions in the novel: he is an important character that helps to highlight the author's point and a plot-forming [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 950

“Be Safe I Love You” a Book by Cara Hoffman

As a rule, this is accomplished by the mean of the author encouraging readers to recognize the societal implications of the abstractly sounding terms and notions, which have a great effect on the unraveling of [...]
  • Pages: 7
  • Words: 1976

“To Any Would-Be Terrorists” by Naomi Shihab Nye

While trying to address the extremist audience, the writer resorted to the strong methods of personification to be able to talk straight to each reading the letter. Despite the character of the text, the writer [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 929

“Life After Death” a Book by Damien Echols

Thanks to the newly-attained DNA evidence that pointed at the unknown suspect present at the crime scene, in 2011 the West Memphis Three were able to sign the Alford plea that allowed them to maintain [...]
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 1123

“The Catcher in the Rye” by J. D. Salinger

For example, The Catcher in the Rye is a book that appeals to the majority of adults while the representatives of the younger generation often turn out to be not able to come to the [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 589

American South Literature

Some of the most common themes that can be found in Southern literature are dedicated to the dominant religion practiced in this region Christianity, the ethnic communities that inhabit it, class division of the Southern [...]
  • Pages: 6
  • Words: 1705

National Identity in “Song of Solomon” by Morrison

In this novel, Morrison, from her feminist viewpoint, depicts the successful quest for the personal and national identity of the main character Milkman, who finds the solution in African national values and the act of [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 834

“Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed

Tiny Beautiful Things is also a memoir with a strong element of self-help built in it; the author is in the role of Sugar who answers questions sent to her by ordinary people for the [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 559

“Beloved” a Novel by Toni Morrison

The plot of Beloved is rather complex due to the flashbacks that are revealed with the help of storytelling and provide the reader with the opportunity to go back in time for several decades.
  • Pages: 6
  • Words: 1638

“The Giver”: Novel by Lowry and Film by Noyce

Having the plot in common, the book and the film have some slight differences in the content, and the most significant of them can be acknowledged the theme of love which is touched upon only [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 576
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