Cultural Influences On American Literature

1998 Words8 Pages
America is a country that literally extends from Sea to Shining Sea; from the Pacific ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. Fueled by Manifest Destiny, America started as a small town, and developed into a global superpower. During that time of growth, American culture was cultivated. American culture is the compilation of history, knowledge, ideas, thoughts, and memories that make up the American identity. Events such as wars, and political controversies alter the history of America, and often are what show up in literature. Consequently, it is the people and fundamental ideas that make the country that is able to have a history. Just as a child would, a country changes as it gets older, and there are many things that contribute to such a change. Some of the events that helped shape American Literature are, The Revolutionary War and The Civil War. The Revolutionary War forced America to forge it's own identity that was still indelibly tied to Great Britain. Contrary to the Revolutionary War, The Civil War was a way to resolve many differing identities as America was the most divided the country ever was, and ever would be. This division was primarily based on differing opinions on slavery and states rights. A strong example of the division between the Union and Confederacy is seen in Walt Whitman’s poem “O Captain! My Captain!” “O Captain! My Captain!” was written to express the deep American sadness of losing symbolic president, Abraham Lincoln. Whitman repeats “O Captain! My Captain!” to add emphasis on how Lincoln was a literal and metaphorical captain to him and the rest of the Union. Of course, this is a heavily Northern learning point of view, as the Confederacy rejoiced when Lincoln was no longer in office, and Andrew Johnson took the presidency. American Culture is one of the most diverse and unique cultures in the World. American culture consists of a variety of religions, music, clothing, and races. “I Hear America Singing” is a perfect embodiment of Walt Whitman’s, and other early American poets’ feelings towards America. Whitman talks about how all men and women make up the American culture, and partake in the American Dream. Carpenters, masons, boatmen, shoemakers, wives, young daughters at work; all
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