“America is a nation of paradoxes.”
It’s hard to fathom that my journey with American Literature is coming to an end…how time flies!
American Literature has definitely been one of the more challenging units I have undertaken and for that I am thankful. To immerse myself in a sea of knowledge that I have not yet explored is every Literature student’s dream. I have had my eyes opened to new cultural experiences as well as cultural injustices. I have explored the lavish language of poets that I have never come across before and have been blessed to hear their stories.
Though this unit was amazing to learn about, I also found it deeply moving and rather emotional. The injustices African American peoples had to face (and still face) are atrocious to read about, but sadly it is a familiar story mirrored by Australia’s own Indigenous peoples.
This unit really highlighted how “America is a nation of paradoxes”. In our very first class, we discussed what it meant to be American. This entailed a model of Americans who wished to live in harmony with their morals and values. However, many Americans held morals and values that were somewhat questionable. Many Americans were pro-slavery and saw class systems as an appropriate way to fuel inequality between white people and people of colour.
Therefore, how can there be harmony when people retain these sorts of morals and values?
The answer is there can’t.
American was and still is, a predominately Christian country that strives to follow the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. Many view the teachings as the correct path to follow in order to live a life decided to God.
But how can you call yourself a Christian when you exploit, enslave and belittle another person?
That goes completely against the teachings in the Bible. The teaching of ‘Love one another; as I have loved you’ is the crème de la crème of all teachings. However, the injustices inflicted upon people of colour shows the complete opposite of this. This in itself, is a paradox. The idea that men were created equally did not exist, despite the fact that many Americans believed it did and because of this, called themselves good Christians.
Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn encapsulated this idea. Twain was critical of the brutality and violence he saw everywhere around him: epitomised in the institution of slavery and by the recent civil war. I enjoyed delving into this novel. It highlighted the fact that nobody is born a racist, rather, racism is something that is developed and often passed on by society.
Another artist I was thrilled to learn about was Du Bois. He was the most profound African American intellectual of his generation. Du Bois documented what it was like to be black in the American century. He wasn’t afraid to express his thoughts on society and didn’t feel the need to conform to its shackles either. Du Bois’s courage inspired me to compose my own text ‘Voice of Angels’ which contains similar ideas that Du Bois himself championed. It is people like Du Bois who shaped history due to their yearning for change.
Overall, American Literature has been a knowledge-filled unit to partake in. I have very much enjoyed the blogging process, as well as being able to peer review. I loved reading my peer’s thoughts and reflections on the unit as well as hearing their opinion on my own work. I believe peer reviewing is one of the best ways to learn, and I can see this through my continuous improvement in blogging this semester. I feel empowered by the knowledge I have gained and grateful that I got to share this experience with an array of budding writers.