After World War II, American literature reflected a guilt and disillusionment in the American dream. For writers like Ernest Hemingway there was a nothingness out of which man had to carve his own existence and find his own "clean, well-lighted place." In this malaise that arose from the aftermath of the atomic bomb, writers such as Joseph Heller wrote about the corruption of the military bureaucracy. His black comedy, Catch-22, captures the disillusionment of the citizenry with the government and its unconcern for the individual. And, with the threat of Communism and the "Red Scare," certain works, such as Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, reflected the hysteria that can overtake a nation, as well.
Then, of course, in the 1960s there was much social protest literature. At the forefront of this genre were African-American poets and other writers such as James Baldwin with his Go Tell It on the Mountain and other works.