The Price of Individuality in Modern America

Essay by cervantesvUniversity, Bachelor's May 2003

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America is freedom. As the melting pot of many races, religions, traditions and ideologies, we are responsible for keeping the opportunities available that were promised by our forefathers. Individualism is a large part of freedom, which makes it challenging to appropriately discuss the concept of the individual in American Literature among such a diverse audience. It is interesting to note how two completely singular authors--Allen Ginsberg and Walt Whitman-- from two totally distant eras, address the concept of the individual in American literature and have very similar conclusions to form on the issue. Both of these great poets, as individuals in American literature, have incorporated current events into their work , broken out of the ordinary, and been open to new ideas, while standing up for their beliefs in order to become true individuals.

The individual of American literature is self-reliant in that he/she draws on their own experiences to influence, and sometimes manipulate their work.

Whitman's Drum-Taps, which was very much similar to his diary during the American Civil War, reflected the historical situation of that time (Walt Whitman). Because this particular piece goes from a patriotic war fever to a realization of the horror and reality of war, we really get a rare glimpse at this conscious transition in his mind and not only his physical deterioration:

Aroused and angry,

I thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war;

But soon my fingers fail'd me, my face droop'd, and I resign'd myself,

To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead.

. . .

War! an arm'd race is advancing!--the welcome for


turning away;

War! be it weeks, months, or years--an arm'd race is advancing to

welcome it.

Meanwhile, Ginsberg from "The Beat Generation" was a...