The purpose of Literary Themes for Students (LTfS) is to provide readers with an overview of literary works that explore a specific theme. These volumes begin with an overview essay that introduces the theme of race and prejudice in literature. This essay is followed by fourteen sub-essays, which break these themes down further into subthemes that correspond to recurring ideas in the literature of the American dream. Sub-essays examine particular titles that exemplify the subthemes and by treating them the volume can thus track how that subtheme has developed over time.
Each work is discussed in a separate entry. These entries include an introduction to the work and the work's author; a plot summary, to help readers understand the action and story of the work; an analysis of themes that relate to the subject of the American dream, to provide readers with a multifaceted look at the complexity of the aspirations, obstacles, and inspirations of American dreamers; and a section on important historical and cultural events that shaped the author and the work, as well as events in the real world (from the time of the author or another time in history) that affect the plot or characters in the work.
Additionally, readers are presented with a critical overview discussing how the work was initially received by critics and how the work is presently viewed. Accompanying the critical overview is an excerpt from a previously published critical essay discussing the work's relation to the theme of race and prejudice. For further analysis and enjoyment, an extended list of media adaptations is also included, as well as a list of poems, short stories, novels, plays, and works of nonfiction that further address the theme of race and prejudice, and thus students are encouraged to continue their study of this theme.
Each chapter focuses on the ways in which an entry relates to the theme of the American dream. Each entry heading includes the author's name, the title of the work being discussed, and the year it was published. The following sections are included in the discussion of each entry:
In addition, each entry includes the following sidebars, set apart from the rest of the text:
Each entry may have several illustrations, including photos of the author, depictions of key elements of the plot, stills from film adaptations, and/or historical photos of the people, places, or events discussed in the entry.
Fourteen sub-essays discuss various focuses of the literature of the American dream: in different time periods, including the colonial era, the nineteenth century, the twentieth century, and the modern day; for different populations of Americans, including African Americans; Asian Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans; American Immigrants; as it relates to certain specific experiences, such as among frontiersmen, Southerners, feminists, foreigners and expatriates, and public figures. Each sub-essay addresses approximately a dozen works that deal directly with the subtheme, and discusses how treatment of that theme has changed over time.
A Media Adaptation list compiles more than seventy films, plays, television series, and other media that deal with the subject of the American dream. The adaptations are organized by subtheme for easy access.
September 13, 2010