5 American Literary Motifs

Motif
a recurring theme or image in the art/literature of a culture

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Nature
some authors/characters love nature. Others hate it or are afraid of it.

New Start
People came to America looking to start their lives over, and improve themselves. Optimism and hope – leaving the old life behind.

American Dream
Hard work = success. America provides people with the opportunity to improve themselves socially and economically.

Individuality vs. Conformity
In order to live in a safe society, we agree to give up certain individual rights and freedoms. some characters/authors hate to give up these rights; others are ok with it.

Power Struggle
In a society/economy based on competition, power is important. People and groups struggle against each other for power. Examples are religion, politics, race, class, gender, age.

Paradox
Something that seems to contradict itself.

The Traditional American Dream
Needs these things: house, wife, children, cars, dogs, job, pickett fence (meant to keep the bad guys out, keep the dream in, and show everyone what you have).