Can anyone help me with essays/books/poems/quotes on the topic of "Individual vs. Society" ?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are many books that are written with the theme of the individual versus society.  I will describe some examples here:

Novels

The Giver by Lois Lowry

In this dystopian society everyone is tightly controlled in the name of Sameness, and all memories are held collectively by one individual.  All decisions are made for people, but a young boy named Jonas decides there is another way, and runs away to save a baby boy, and by doing so bring memory and change to his society

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

This book also has a young boy as the narrator.  Huck grapples with the issues of the adult world and decides that slavery is wrong, even though everyone is telling him that it is wrong to free a slave.

1984 by George Orwell

This is probably the quintessential individual versus society novel.  In it Big Brother is watching, history is rewritten regularly, and the government engages in Doublespeak to trick and control the people.

Poems

Individual vs. Society by Josey Tom

http://www0.poemhunter.com/poem/individual-vs-society/

This poem reminds me of the difficulty of youth, but the need for acceptance continues well into adulthood.

we real cool by Gwendolyn Brooks

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/we-real-cool/

I’ve always liked this one because it seems to me that the speaker is trying to keep a brave face, but gives up in the end and admits that things are not very good.

“Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178942

This one focuses on women battling society’s insistence that they be thin and beautiful.

“I Know What the Caged Bird Feels” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar

http://inspirational-poems.net/war-poems/79-war-poems/293-i-know-what-the-caged-bird-feels

This is a classic poem about oppression.  The last line “I know why the caged bird sings” is seen as a grasp of hope for those imprisoned by whatever force.

Quotations

The freedom of each individual can only be the freedom of all.” Friedrich Dürrenmatt

What I like about this one is the idea that it is everyone’s responsibility to stand up for anyone who needs it.

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

This is one of my favorite quotes.  I think it is more and more meaningful in the age of 24/7 media when it seems to be harder and harder to get at the real truth.

“There aren't too many people ready to die for racism. They'll kill for racism but they won't die for racism.” Florynce R. Kennedy

This amazing quote demonstrates a sad truth about our society.  We don’t stand up for people who are oppressed by our society, but we should.

 

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