BY: jAMES PITARD
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON NOVEMBER 9, 2021
Recently I made a concentrated effort to read some classic American literature from beloved authors including Ayn Rand, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck. With most of these novels being written well before our parents were born, I was expecting stories of antiquity that I would have difficulty relating too but, much to my pleasant surprise, I was sorely mistaken. These stories covered a myriad of themes composing mainly of coming of age, living up to expectations, and making life altering decisions. As a college senior quickly approaching graduation, I saw my own self in many of these protagonists and took away more from these stories than I could have ever foreseen.
To fully appreciate these tales, we must remember the so-called lost generation and the turn of the century. The United States has entered the world stage and is quickly being recognized as a superpower, war is looming in Europe, and rapid technological advancement has further pushed people’s way of life from more of an agrarian lifestyle to one of urban living. While these conditions may seem to be much different than our own, upon a second inspection, they may be more similar than initially thought. The United States is still the world superpower, recent rapid militarization by China has many worried for war, and technology has allowed for the digitalization of many of our daily processes. Henceforth, before we even focus on the plot of the stories themselves, the world is not that much different than it was roughly a hundred years ago.
Of the books that I read including: This Side of Paradise, Tender is the Night, The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned, Atlas Shrugged, Anthem, and East of Eden, all shared certain plot developments that I found most interesting. Almost every single story focused on a protagonist coming to an age where they had to make big decisions for themselves and ultimately establish their own identity separate from their parents. With most of these characters having very influential parents it was difficult for some of them to get out of their parent’s shadow and strike it out on their own. Once on their own, our characters struggle with relationships, financial prosperity, and finding their purpose in life. Many of us in Alpha Rho are on the cusp of graduation and are having to make some very important decisions regarding if and where we are going to work, what we are going to outside of work, and maybe even who we are going to settle down with. It wasn’t too long ago that almost everything we did was overseen and sometimes even directed by our parents or guardians. However, as we get ready to make this next step into the unknown, we can find solace in that our predicament far predates us and that things end up working out in the end, much like they did in American stories of old and I look forward to seeing what my own next chapter brings.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Pitard is a senior from Birmingham, AL studying Finance and Economics and a minor in Risk Management. Pledging in the Spring of 2020, James serves as the chair of the Community Outreach Committee and as Alpha Rho’s UGC Delegate. In his free time, he loves to read (obviously), watch movies, listen to music, and workout. After graduation, James will move to Atlanta for his new job and hopes with brother blogs such as this he can leave a lasting impact on the brotherhood that has done so much for him during his time at The University of Alabama. Roll Tide.