U.S.A. Essay

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In the following essay, Becker examines the pessimistic tone of U.S.A. and Dos Passos's use of "newsreels" and "biographies" to provide supplementary background information.

By its intricacy and by its comprehensive sweep the trilogy U.S.A. comes close to being the great American novel which had been the aspiration of writers since the turn of the century. It is one of the ironies of our times that when the great American novel did arrive, it turned out to be condemnatory and pessimistic rather than a celebration of the American way. Yet there is an underlying affirmation in Dos Passos' denial. The American dream, battered and corrupted by men of ill will, or little will, still manifests itself—though in anguish —not completely stifled by the trappings of empire and the machinations of self-interest that the author describes.

What first aroused the enthusiasm of readers and...

(read more from the Critical Essay #7 section)

This section contains 6,203 words
(approx. 16 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the U.S.A. Study Guide
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