To Kill a Mockingbird

The Journey Motif in Works of American Literature 10th Grade

The journey motif is one of the most widely used elements in American literature. The journey is a powerful symbol often used to represent a character’s adventure leading to an epiphany, or some sort of self-realization. This literary device can be applied in the background, working invisibly alongside the plot, or it can comprise the entirety of the plot itself so that all of the character’s experiences are centered on the journey. There are a number of American works and writers spanning centuries that have applied this device to their characters. Three literary works, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, use the journey motif to illustrate the mental and physical challenges and tribulations that the characters must experience. However, although all of these novels utilize a journey, the type of journey used is extremely varied.

The journey is used to represent a mental or physical challenge, often daunting, that the characters in question must undertake as a part of their enlightenment integral to their character development. Usually, journeys represent something lacking within the lives of the protagonists, so they leave their current...

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