Literature

A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

Throughout the past semester, we have been reading from A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Every so often, we would get a chapter from the book, that we would read and take a quiz on. Howard Zinn writes about America’s history from the perspective of ordinary people, including slaves, women, immigrants, native americans, and workers. Chapter one looks at Christopher Columbus’ arrival from the eyes of the Arawak Indians. Here’s a quote from that chapter:

“The story of Columbus and the Indians shows us something about about how history gets written. One of the most famous historians to write about Columbus was Samuel Eliot Morison… He said that cruel treatment by Columbus and the Europeans who came after him caused the ‘complete genocide’ of the Indians. Genocide is a harsh word. It is the name of a terrible crime  — the deliberate killing of an entire ethnic or cultural group.”

Howard Zinn continues on talking about the affects the Europeans had when taking the Americas from the Indians living on the land. Zinn, seems to try to present the facts with little bias towards any side. The book continues by talking about events in America’s past such as the struggles for workers’ rights, women’s rights, and civil rights during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitgerald, is set in New York City and Long Island during the Prohibition era, a time in which alcohol was illegal, no matter how old you were. The novel takes place following World War I, where American society enjoyed having unprecedented levels of prosperity during the “roaring” 1920s as the economy soared. The Great Gatsby is set among wealthy, educated people, who have lots of leisure time and little concern about people who are not in their social class. Those who do come from other classes are envious towards the lifestyle that they see in the rich. Jay Gatsby, one of the main characters, is wealthy to a certain extent as he cannot fake education or social behaviors that only come with “old money”. Throughout this book, Fitzgerald talks about what life was like living in a time where money decided everything from what job you had, if any, who you hung out with, what car you drove, and mainly, your social class. In the Great Gatsby, the American Dream seems corrupted, as it used to stand for independence and the ability to make something great out of nothing with a dream and hard work. Now,however, it seems to revolve more around materialism and selfish pursuit of pleasure.

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