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Major Themes in American Literature

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The American Dream
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The ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative
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Loss of Innocence
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It is usually thought of as an experience or period in a child’s life that widens their awareness of evil, pain or suffering in the world around them.
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Coming of Age
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A young person’s transition from being a child to being an adult
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Relationship with Nature
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1. Nature as Teacher: nature is viewed as a positive, life giving force. 2. Cold, Impersonal World: nature can be completely indifferent to what happens to us.
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Relationship with Society
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1. Crime and Punishment: when individuals break laws, commit crimes, and are punished. 2. Oppression: Individuals violate the laws of society, or society infringes upon the rights of the individual. 3. War: the right to rebellion. 4. Influence: Society molds and creates a person’s ideals and morals through media, culture, and current events.
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Relationship with Science
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Technology and advancement in the world as a catalyst for change.
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Alienation and Isolation
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The experience and consequences of being isolated from a group or an activity to which one should belong, or in which one should be involved.
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Survival of the Fittest
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A justification for behavior that undermines moral standards by letting the interpretation of strength determine justice to the detriment of the weak.
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Disillusionment
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The feeling of disappointment resulting from the discovery that something is not as good as one believed it to be.
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Rebellion and protest
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Process of resisting authority, control, or convention.