Bildungsroman Movement Variations

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American Novels

The American style of the Bildungsroman is a combination of the German Bildungsroman and the Spanish picaresque. The American Bildungsroman follows the pattern of moral growth for the protagonist as he discovers his identity in conflict with social norms. Blended into the story is the picaresque element of the hero being a traveler who has an outsider's perspective on what he encounters. Two American classics exemplify this structure: Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

English Novels

In an English Bildungsroman, the protagonist is often a poor orphaned boy whose goal is to become a cultured gentleman of means. As part of his self-education, he moves from his provincial home to an urban setting. While the German Bildungsroman emphasizes internal conflicts within the main character, the English Bildungsroman uses the outside world to threaten the hero's quest for identity. Many...

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Literary Movements for Students
Bildungsroman from Literary Movements for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.