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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.

1194 Best Essay Examples on American Literature

The Significance of Fences

By naming his play Fences, the plural form of the word even though only a single physical fence is evident in the play, August Wilson brings attention to the symbolism of the fence itself as [...]
  • Pages: 5
  • Words: 1657

Recitatif (1983) by Toni Morrison

A peculiar feature of the passage is that instead of revealing the distinctive features of African Americans, the author concentrates on the fact that the distinction between the races in the American society is dependent [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 580

The Open Boat by Stephen Crane.

Stephen Crane's The Open Boat revolves around four shipwrecked men: the captain, the cook, the correspondent, and the oiler. Thus the danger of the wind and the waves natural forces are so awesome that without [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 1177

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand Review

Her philosophy is based on a close look at the history of scientific, technological, and Industrial Revolutions of nineteenth century, and understanding of the benefits of political/economic freedom of the capitalist system that could carry [...]
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 1740

Realism in American Literature

Corresponding tendencies in the drama are shown in the writings of Ibsen, Hamptman and Galsworthy."In the United States, Wolfe, Hemingway and Faulkner are among the leading representatives of the modern school of realism"..
  • Pages: 6
  • Words: 2222

Edgar Poe’s Two Short Stories Review

In this discourse two of his famous short stories, "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Cask of Amontillado" are studied in an attempt to better understand the use of symbolism, the literary tool of irony, and [...]
  • Pages: 7
  • Words: 2469

Edgar Allen Poe’s Fear of Premature Burial

For instance, in The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat the police arrive and stimulate a desire on the part of the narrator to confess his crime and undergo punishment from the state.
  • Pages:
  • Words: 1714

Themes of Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia

To emphasize the difference between the characters' political views the author chooses the country's portrayal through insider and outsider perspectives, on the one hand, showing the evocations of those who remained in Cuba and, on [...]
  • Pages:
  • Words: 1295

“Cross Country Snow” by Hemingway

The hesitancy and repetition of phrases, the parallels of contrast, express and enforce the strong bound between George and Nick. In the case of George and Nick they form the basis of their relationship.
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 1178

Reaction Paper of the Book “A Child Called It”

Likewise, his position in the family changing from a 'son', 'the boy' and finally to 'it' not only indicates the severity of torture faced by David, but also the writer's expertise in explaining it.
  • Pages:
  • Words: 697

The End of Writer’s Block for Harold Pinter

A masterpiece, "One for the Road" ended a painful period of writer's block for Harold Pinter in a manner swift and strange and led to an explicitly political agenda of his subsequent plays, "Mountain Language" [...]
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 933

Comparing Dreams: Poe vs. Hawthorne

In "Young Goodman Brown", Hawthorne presents the idea that the Puritan religion, because of these beliefs, has lost all sense of meaning to the younger generations as a recently married Puritan man makes a journey [...]
  • Pages: 6
  • Words: 2002

How to Win Friends and Influence People by D. Carnegie

The simple truths in the book were relevant to all generations and hence the book is of universal appeal."How to Win Friends and Influence People" tapped into the insatiable hunger for self-improvement and success in [...]
  • Pages: 7
  • Words: 2322

Kate Chopin’s Symbolism in Short Stories

The lightning becomes the conflict inside her and the beating of the rain on her roof is the beating of her heart as she finally expresses her passion with Alcee.
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 991

Sonny’s Blues by Baldwin: Short Story Analysis

It is clear that the narrator disapproves the way chosen by his younger brother."I did not like the way he carried himself, loose and dreamlike all the time...and I did not like his friends, and [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 646

Depression in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Gillman

The paper provides a discussion of the short story and analyses the theme of emotion and depression that the main character Stetson Gilman undergoes and her advent into insanity caused by the wrong treatment given [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 1218

Hypocrisy in Flannery O’Connor’s “Revelation”

These assessments are made based upon the appearances of others, such as in her identification of the cotton print dress that is recognizable to Mrs. Through imagery and setting, O'Connor is successful in heavily lacing [...]
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 597

Mrs. Mary Rowlandson’s Narrative of the Captivity

A peculiar feature of works of this type is that the main characters, women, are not treated as they should be: they see numerous deaths of their dearest people, they are deprived of the fulfillment [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 892

Family Structure in ‘The Good Earth’ by Buck

The rules in a conventional Chinese family are obligatory, where a wife has to be subservient to her husband, so also the children to their father, and each and every person including the husbands, wives [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 969

“Learning Japanese” Narrative by Janice Lee

In order for the writer to familiarize the reader with the setting of the story, she has succeeded in inviting the reader to be part of the story by describing in detail the setting, from [...]
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 1043

Psychological Issues in “Fight Club” by Palahniuk

The story focuses upon an unnamed narrator who struggles to find a sense of fulfillment in a world in which personal fulfillment is supposed to be accomplished through making the right purchases and having access [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 935

Narrative of Everything Is Illuminated by J. S. Foer

I believe that the narrative style of the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer called Everything Is Illuminated is one of the main factors that determine the never ending interest of the readers towards the book.
  • Pages: 5
  • Words: 1633

Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” Book Review

As he stood beneath the lights of the strident room, the inhabitants beam him and make him replicate himself; an unintentional orientation to parity nearly damages him, but the whole thing terminates well and he [...]
  • Pages: 6
  • Words: 1586

O’Connor’s “Good Country People” in American Canon

However, as time progresses, the relevance of the story may become outdated, beginning a discussion on its presence in the Americana literary canon."Good Country People" deserves continuous recognition in the canon due to its brilliant [...]
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 1125

Opportunities and Dreams in Keegan’s Essays

Despite the presence of many opportunities and positive dreams and goals, most of them fail to be realized due to misleading values and aims set by surrounding society; this idea is present in almost all [...]
  • Pages: 5
  • Words: 1438

The Thematic Concept in Water Names

Like the narrator, a reader may think that the story presents a happy ending, as the young woman "went to join the kingdom of her beloved". The woman wants the girls to find the answer [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 864

“My Body Politic” by Simi Linton

Lack of directions and information that people with disabilities face when they find themselves in that condition is one of the problems that the author raises in the first part of her book.
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 850

Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat”

It is humanity and collaboration that are invincible to the cruelty of nature. To Crane, nature is the uncontrollable and powerful force that is indifferent to people.
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 845

Nancy Drew’s Character Analysis

This paper provides a discussion on changes in the young woman's character, addressing her salient traits that remain the same and outlining the differences in her personality across time and media.
  • Pages: 5
  • Words: 1372

Malcolm Gladwell’s Book “Blink”

At the same time, Gladwell argues that, when applied to the areas such as business and economy, the blink may save the world due to the opportunities that it provides.
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 1114

Pictures That Drive Plots

The book is designed to concentrate on the reflection process of the characters; the reader can clearly understand their emotions and thoughts.
  • Pages: 5
  • Words: 1381

Two Brothers in Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin

In contrast to the brother, Sonny uses jazz music and heroin to cope with the despair of their living conditions. In the final part of the story, Sonny's performance at a jazz club brings his [...]
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 898

“The Voyage of the Narwhal” by A. Barrett

The indigenous population of Inuit that inhabits the Arctic territories of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland has been historically subjected to neglect and disregard from the majority of nations that came to explore their lands.
  • Pages: 10
  • Words: 2767

“Into the Wild” the Book by Jon Krakauer

The unusual character of these events resulted in the creation of the book Into the Wild by Krakauer, who tried to repeat the same way and explain the main causes of the main character's actions.
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 630

Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited” Short Story

Such a dominant ideology, perceived as the dream-goal for the majority of the US citizens in the 1920s, was a special modification of the "American dream" in the era of post-war economic "prosperity".
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 836

Miranda July’s “The Swim Team”

The girl invents a story about her being on a swim team in high school to strike a conversation with Elizabeth, Kelda, and Jack-Jack and convince them that she has coaching skills.
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 599

“The Glass Castle: A Memoir” by Jeannette Walls

For instance, the birth of a younger brother or sister, the beginning of school, or the divorce of parents would change the relationship between the child and his or her environment. In the given case, [...]
  • Pages: 6
  • Words: 1692

“Home” by Gwendolyn Brooks

Being a home-owner is one of the aspects that determine status in the society and, consequently, stimulates people to preserve their status.
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 572

“Goodbye to All That” by Joan Didion

Didion was experiencing the emptiness and meaninglessness of her life in New York, the city that kept disappointing her, not because it was a bad place to live but because it was not the place [...]
  • Pages: 24
  • Words: 478

“Dance of the Dead” by Richard Matheson

Although the story mostly belongs to the science fiction genre, its central scene is focused on horror, and more specifically, the horror of the unknown that is emblematic of the dark fantasy genre according to [...]
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 1127

“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
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