Classic American Literature Works That Every Student Must Read

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Nothing compares to the excitement of exploring a new universe through well-narrated stories. American literary classics boast timeless characters, captivating storylines, and accessible themes which are bound to pique your interest. 

Reading helps you understand the numerous concepts you come across while studying literature, boosting your ability to articulate yourself clearly. Prior knowledge of these classics was one of the reasons why I managed to get master thesis writing services with little struggle, as I had ample prior knowledge of various works of literature. 

Without further ado, here are some American literary classics that should feature on your bucket list. 

1.      Moby Dick- Herman Melville

Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s magnum opus, is the best-known example of classic American literature and is frequently cited as such. 

Ishmael, an exiled seaman, tells the tale as he meets many individuals along the way, including Ahab, the captain of the whaling ship, who is still fixated on the whale, Moby Dick, with whom Ahab had a prior encounter that resulted in the loss of his leg. 

The Pequod’s captain, Ahab, is on a three-year journey to collect the valuable oils from whales, but he embarks on a vengeance mission that ends fatally for the passengers aboard his ship. This sail, unlike their previous ones, is motivated by Ahab’s determination to track down and kill Moby Dick despite the risk that this pursuit may provide. 

2.      The catcher in the Rye- J.D. Salinger 

The Catcher in the Rye is a fascinating allegory of adolescent alienation and a critique of society’s superficiality. The narrative of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield’s two-day escapade touches on innocence, identity, loss, belonging, connection, sex, and sadness. 

 After being expelled from prep school, Caulfield looks for comfort in fleeting encounters in New York. The fact that Caulfield has become a cult figure among teenagers and is portrayed as the poster child for adolescent rebellion is evidence of the narration’s potent impact. 

3.      To Kill a Mocking Bird- Harper Lee

This Harper Lee book is one of the most widely-read pieces of American literature. The story centers on Jean Louise and her brother Jeremy Atticus, who are raised by their widowed father, Atticus Finch, in the fictional Alabama town of Maycomb.

Finch will make the legal argument to be fair and harmless. Finch’s warning to the kids is that “it’s a shame To Kill a Mockingbird” because these are defenseless songbirds. Despite opposition from the neighborhood and even calls for Tom to be lynched, Finch volunteers to defend a black citizen named Tom, who has been wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. 

Despite Atticus’ defense, which offers a convincing interpretation of the evidence, Tom is rendered guilty and dies while attempting to flee from the law. To Kill a Mockingbird is known for its warmth and humor, although it addresses the serious subjects of rape and racial inequity. 

4.      A lesson before dying- Ernest. J. Gaines

Is it morally right to kill an innocent, dimwitted guy like a hog? An intriguing tale based on the true events of Willie Francis, a black American famed for surviving an attempted electrocution in Louisiana in 1946, is the subject of Gaines’ allegory, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. 

Jefferson, a simple-minded character in this story, is charged with murder and given the death punishment due to a series of unfortunate occurrences. The story shows family, friendship, a quest for meaning and self-worth, bravery, and defiance of fate. 

Ernest’s narration will astound you with humor and touch your emotions as the protagonist, Jefferson, is pitted against unfair situations. 

Final Take

If you were looking to restock your library, these American literary classics should occupy top positions on your bucket list. Besides the quality narrations, these novels offer unique perspectives of various ethical values, allowing you to express your debates in future academic tasks better. 


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