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"One's-self I Sing": the Theme of Individualism as a Part of the American Experience in the Works of Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and Jack Kerouac

Lindsey, Lori Lee
Three men--Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and Jack Kerouac--are credited with changing the existing style of American literature. Yet in different ways, each explored and developed the theme of individuality as a part of the American experience, as set forth by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman. In looking at the letters, private papers, and published works of Twain, Hemingway, and Kerouac, as well as literary studies of their works, each author also had a specific goal in mind for developing this theme. The theme of individuality runs deep in American culture and is able to transcend time and place, speaking to people across the generations. Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and Jack Kerouac created characters that are prototypes that mark the apex of the individual experience according to their cultures. In so doing, each author celebrated the individualism and self-reliance that Ralph Waldo Emerson defined in his essays and speeches. Through this, Twain, Hemingway, and Kerouac created and contributed to an American voice that celebrated the concepts and characters upon which the United States was founded. The content of their novels reflect the attitudes and mores of their times, but their writing transcends time and speaks to the human condition.