A national narrative is an articulation, sometimes in fictional form, of a people's story or the concepts that have dominated that people's thinking throughout its history. Many books have been written that express the American narrative, among which the following are some of the better-known examples.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's writings, especially, of course, The Great Gatsby (1925)
It's become a truism to identify Gatsby as at least a major candidate for the status of the Great American Novel. Gatsby is the proverbial "self-made man," an ideal of Americanism. The people who attend his parties are similar to him: they are elites, the nouveau riche class created by the dynamic of a new country in which tradition has largely been cast aside—as opposed to an aristocracy of inherited wealth, as in Europe. But Gatsby is also flawed—as it turns out, fatally so. The flaw is an essential part of America as well.
Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957)
Without endorsing Rand's philosophy or even necessarily judging her a great novelist, we can see that her stories encapsulate the ideals of capitalism, "rugged individualism," and defiance of constricting traditional values. All of these qualities have historically been seen as typifying the American character. Though Rand would have disagreed, these features are also deeply flawed and account for much that has been wrong with American society from its beginnings to the present.
Philip Roth's American Pastoral (1995)
Roth, as he often does, examines the sometimes latent, sometimes open, and often merely self-perceived separateness between his characters' Jewish heritage and their identity as Americans. This is emblematic of the general American experience of a conflicting duality in which ethnicity competes with one's New World nationhood. In Roth's novel, the theme is overlaid with the turmoil of the 1960s and the changes through which the country was struggling at the time. There is also, of course, the subtext of prejudice and the status of minorities, such as the Jewish and African American communities, as the Other.
Individualism, the ideals of capitalism and wealth, the conflict between Old and New Worlds, the transformations taking place within US society, and the theme of the Other are all integral parts of the American national narrative. The books mentioned here are a mere sampling of the literary treatments of that narrative.
The "American National Narrative" is the stories we tell, often mythic in nature, that define who we are as a people. They encapsulate who we believe ourselves to be and what traits make us distinctive.
An extremely important narrative or mythology about who we are as Americans has been enshrined in our Thanksgiving holiday. In this story, we, the American people, are white. We are characterized by purity and a desire for freedom. We are a valiant people who bravely journeyed to this country, even though the odds were against us. Part of the mythology is that we broke bread and sought peace with the Indians already here. This story defines us fundamentally as white, English, Protestant and morally upright people. The idea of purity, embodied in the term "Puritan," defines who we are.
Another important and related narrative is that we are collectively "a city on a hill," an exceptional society that others around the world ought to emulate. We are building—even to this day—something new and good, something better than what has ever gone before.
As we separated from Great Britain to form our own country, our early literature, written by people like Washington Irving, defined Americans as a better and more positive force than the vitiated Europeans we had left behind. We defined ourselves as more robust, more vigorous, more masculine, more energized, more practical, and more resourceful than the effete, over-educated Europeans. Our culture might be crude and new, but it was destined for greatness because of the strength of our national character.
All nations need strong narratives about who they are if they are going to survive and prosper. Myths, being myths, always pose dangers, however. They can be misused, just as the Germans in the Nazi period misused nationalist myths defining themselves as Aryan for genocidal purposes and warrior myths for aggressive purposes. Many national myths today, based on foundational ideas of ethnicity and religious unity, have come under strain as populations grow more diverse. A nation's robustness can be reflected in its creativity in changing and adapting its narratives to better reflect its reality in positive ways.
A national narrative is an all-encompassing ethnically or politically based story that unites a whole nation. Often, a national narrative is based on a widely accepted founding story.
In the United States, we now have more than one national narrative. In the early history of the country, many subscribed to a Judeo-Christian perspective of America's founding. The Puritan migration to New England was precipitated by the drive for religious freedom and also, the desire for political autonomy. Later, the American Revolution united Americans against the hegemony of the English "motherland." This national narrative is primarily based on Judeo-Christian ideals, and its principal tenet is freedom.
Some groups call this type of national narrative Christian nationalism, while others label it exclusive or America-First nationalism. This type of ideology is based on prioritizing the "life, liberty, and happiness" of American residents. For example, this national narrative elevates the American constitution over international law. Some proponents of this narrative argue that the government should focus on employing American residents over foreign nationals. Others maintain that the national budget should emphasize domestic, rather than international concerns in the military, political, and/or economic spheres.
For example, proponents of this national narrative argue that, for decades, the United States has accumulated large trade deficits to its detriment. The New York Times reports that the American trade deficit with China reached its highest level in 2017. The actual amount was about $400 billion. For more statistics, here are the figures from the United States Census Bureau. This has led to the new American trade tariffs on Chinese products. Here's a link from NPR you can read. Many Rust-Belt politicians are supporting the tariffs, while others are adamantly against them.
The opposite of this type of national narrative is the globalized or multicultural narrative. This type of narrative is more inclusive but subdivides individuals into identity groups (African American, Hispanic American, Caucasian American, Asian American, etc.) Proponents of this narrative are accepting of all economic or political migrants. Many call for open borders and emphasize a globalized, integrative view of immigration. They argue that America can only atone for its racist, hegemonic past by prioritizing inclusivity. Thus, proponents of this narrative emphasize identity politics over a homogeneous, nationalist ideal.
Many have organized and participated in marches across the nation in support of their ideals. Here is a list of protest marches from 2017. In December 2017, protesters at the US Capitol demanded that DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which protects young immigrants from deportation, be reinstated.
So, the above constitute the two main national narratives in America today. Please refer to the links for examples.