THE CONVOLUTED COSTS OF THE AMERICAN DREAM: AMERICAN IDENTITY, PASSING, AND THE FAUSTIAN BARGAIN
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis paper addresses the development of the American identity through the lens of the Faustian bargain and passing, as a sociological concept. Addressing literature such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Nella Larsen’s Passing, this paper provides the reader with context and critical analysis on the ways that class and racial passing represent a uniquely American adaptation of the Faustian bargain, in which the Faustian legend ultimately attempts to reconcile the gap between what one is and what one wishes to be within the American cultural and social landscape. Ultimately, this paper discusses the evolution of the Faustian legend as it shifts from the European literary tradition to appear within American culture, suggesting that the development and establishment of the American identity is itself a Faustian bargain, and that one’s desire to belong and identify within the framework of American society ironically leads to an increased degree of cultural and personal alienation.