How Much Do You Know About American Literature?


By: Gavin Thagard

4 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

American writers have helped define time periods and movements in American culture. Take this quiz and find out how much you know about these authors and their works!

Who defined the Iceberg theory?

Ernest Hemingway's fiction was influenced by his years as a journalist. For that reason, he often omitted information that could be found if the work was well-read.


Who wrote "Song of Myself?"

"Song of Myself" was written without any regular form or rhythm, making it a free verse poem, which broke from tradition at the time.


Where does O Pioneers! take place?

O Pioneers! is part of Willa Cather's Great Plain trilogy, which includes The Song of the Lark and My Antonia.


Who was NOT part of the Realist movement?

Realism was a response to the over-dramatized Romantic movement that came before it. Realist authors sought to capture a more realistic world.


Who was Huck's companion in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Huck and Jim make a trip down the Mississippi River, as they both try to escape the confines of their previous life.


What movement was Jack London influential in?

In Naturalism, fiction served as a study of human interaction with the environment. Jack London's "To Build a Fire" is an example from the Naturalist movement.


Who was the main character in The Catcher in the Rye?

In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield is a rebellious teenager who runs away from a private school as he suffers through a dilemma with alienation.


Which story addresses racism in the American South?

Set in Alabama during the Great Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows the trial of a black man named Tom Robinson who is accused of raping a white woman.


Which story is set during the Italian campaign in World War I?

Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms addresses the reality of war. The book is influenced by Hemingway's time as an ambulance driver in World War I.


Who wrote Death of a Salesman?

In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller addressed themes related to the American family and human purpose.


Who was NOT a character in The Great Gatsby?

Narrated by the fictional character Nick Carraway, The Great Gatsby follows Jay Gatsby as he tries to rekindle a relationship with his former lover, Daisy Buchanan.


Which was NOT a play by Tennessee Williams?

As one of America's most prominent playwrights in the 20th century, Tennessee Williams often wrote about people's lack of communication and violent nature.


Which of Sam Shepard's plays won the Pulitzer Prize?

In Buried Child, Sam Shepard writes about a dysfunctional family in the American Midwest with secrets to hide.


Who wrote Moby Dick?

Melville's novel follows Captain Ahab on his quest to kill the whale, Moby Dick, who destroyed Ahab's ship and took his leg.


What is "Hills Like White Elephants" about?

Although never mentioned in the story, the characters in "Hills Like White Elephants" talk about an operation that is implied to be an abortion.


Who was a character in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?

In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Brick suffers with his homosexual feelings towards his dead friend, Skipper.


Who wrote On the Road?

Critics believe On the Road is an informal autobiography about Jack Kerouac and his friends.


How many Pulitzer prizes did Robert Frost win?

Robert Frost won Pulitzer prizes for A Witness Tree, A Further Range, Collected Poems, and New Hampshire.


What influenced Langston Hughes' poetry?

Langston Hughes' poetry reflected the rhythm associated with Jazz music in the early 20th century. This style of poetry was influential during the Harlem Renaissance.


Who wrote The Waste Land?

The Waste Land was a five part poem that helped defined Modernist poetry.


What movement was Allen Ginsberg part of?

Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" is a defining work from the Beat Generation that helped define the counter-culture that was to come.


Where does Blanche DuBois go after being evicted from her home in the play A Streetcar Named Desire?

When Blanche is kicked out of her family home in Mississippi, she moves in with her sister, Stella, and Stella's husband, Stanley.


Who wrote "A Rose for Emily?"

"A Rose for Emily" is an example of the Southern Gothic genre that defined much of early 20th-century fiction in the South.


Which was NOT a work by Edgar Allan Poe?

Edgar Allan Poe's literature was defined by his unique combination of mystery and gruesome death.


Who is the escaped murderer in "A Good Man is Hard to Find?"

In Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find," The Misfit escapes from prison in Florida and runs into a family headed to Florida for vacation.


Who was NOT part of the Lost Generation?

The Lost Generation refers to a group of writers after WWI who wrote about the purposeless life of the youth who came back from the war.


What characterizes Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown?"

"Young Goodman Brown" is widely considered an allegory about the fall of man from the Bible.


When were most of Emily Dickinson's poems published?

Emily Dickinson's sister discovered around 1,800 poems after the author's death that had never been published. It would take years before a volume of Dickonson's work was finally released.


In The World According to Garp, who is Garp's father?

In the novel, Jenny Fields has sex with a wounded soldier who is on his death bed named Technical Sargent Garp. She names their son T.S. Garp.


Who is the male protagonist in Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier?

W.P. Inman is a Confederate soldier who leaves the battlefields to return to his love, Ada Monroe, but his journey is filled with tribulations.


Who is Jimmy Cross in love with in "The Things They Carried?"

Jimmy Cross does not know if Martha returns his love, but he still carries around pictures and letters from her and fantasizes about her while at war.


Who is John Updike's most famous character?

Harry "Rabbit" Armstrong is the central character in Updike's five part series that follows Armstrong's fictional life until after his death.


Who wrote "Because I Could Not Stop for Death?"

Dickinson's poem elegantly personifies the fact that death always finds time for us, no matter how busy we might be.


What play was written by Lorraine Hansberry?

A Raisin in the Sun addresses issues of racism and the power of dreaming and success.


Who is a main character in Of Mice and Men?

In Of Mice and Men, fictional characters George Milton and Lennie Small travel California looking for jobs as ranch workers during the Great Depression.


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