TITLE: The Journey of the Young American: Pathways

Abstract

ii (University of Lethbridge) This investigation of four novels, spanning two centuries of American literature, traces recurrent motifs in the American novel of initiation. Repeatedly, a sojourning American child-Adam follows a circular path, moving from his childhood innocence into an underworld where confrontation with the machine leads to introspection and altered perceptions. The American novelist's fascination with the adolescent initiate shifts focus in the twentieth century, reflecting the increasing dominance of technology. A brief introduction is followed by three chapters examining the four novels. To define the predominant concerns of nineteenth-century America with the maturational excursion, Melville's novel, Redburn, is the subject of the second chapter. Redburn is a fine example of the more traditional fall into the knowledge of good and evil, and the young Wellingborough proves more a witness than an active participant on his voyage to Liverpool. Lucius Priest, in Faulkner's The Reivers, the subject of the third chapter, is a "doer " on his trip to Memphis. Lucius is a twentieth-century Huck Finn who initiates his own fall from innocence by reiving an automobile, the symbol of modern American technological prowess. The more serious journey into maturity during the Vietnam War is the subject of the fourth chapter. Her'ein, the first section, examining Michael Herr's Dispatches, evidence ~ the experience of the arch-seer, the reporter in Vietnam whose self-knowledge is painfully laid bare by the iii violence through which he travels. This section is augmented by the study of ~ Rumor of War by Philip Caputo, who recounts his year-long journey as an officer, a "doer, " through Vietnam. In all four novels, the sojourner is a child-Adam, initially innocent, naive, idealistic, and in all four the machine enters the garden, thrusting the child into a world of harsh experience. Th

Similar works

This paper was published in CiteSeerX.

Having an issue?

Is data on this page outdated, violates copyrights or anything else? Report the problem now and we will take corresponding actions after reviewing your request.