Sunday, September 27, 2009

What stories do Americans have in common?

Do you know what story the photo of the young woman is from?

I've just been wondering about what stories we bloggers have in common, and on a larger scale I've been wondering about what stories Americans have in common.

Here is another image that represents a story that is at the top of my list of stories that we and most Americans probably could discuss, because we have had some exposure to it.

Question 1: What's your best guess on what the two stories are?

Question 2: What stories do you think Americans have in common? In other words, if you were to speak in front of a crowd of 100 people that ranged in age from 14-70 and needed to reference a common story what stories could be on your list to choose from?


  1. The top picture is a still of Juliet from Romeo and Juliet. The bottom is an illustration from A Christmas Carol.

    For clarification, you mean two stories that Americans in that age range would recognize and know, correct?

    Hmm, I'd say Gone with the Wind could probably go on there. Younger folks might not know it as well but there are still so many references made to it that I think it would be safe. And Little Women is probably another one. I think even men would know it. The Time Machine is pretty well known, even with younger kids. And Journey to the Center of the Earth. Dare I add Lord of the Rings?

  2. Interesting question. I'd have to go with The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars (a movie, but still a story...) and, well, Harry Potter. My Dad has read all the books, and he's 61, and a few of my students love the movies and some have read the books also.

    I thought of a few, but they all could have fallen easily into a specific demographic.

  3. Wow, awesome post.

    I'm not looking at the comments so I can make my best guesses here.

    First one is Romeo and Juliet. Second is A Christmas Carol.

    If I were to choose a story to reference, it would probably be Romeo and Juliet or Star Wars. That's kind of sad. Hah.

  4. Interesting question to ponder. (And your pictures have been correctly guessed.)
    I think film catapults some stories to wider general audiences so Lord of the Rings, Wizard of Oz, A Christmas Carol, Romeo and Juliet, Harry Potter all have wide exposure. It is curious that you asked about American audiences and most of those book authors are British.
    Among American books, Gone With the Wind might not have the younger readers and Twilight was probably not read by many older readers. However, To Kill a Mockingbird may be widely known.
    I would guess that fairytales are universal: Cinderella, Snow White and the Little Mermaid are probably in everyone's consciousness.

  5. Juliet of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet.
    Dicken's A Christmas Carol.

    The stories that Americans share are those that somehow tap into the psyche, the heart and soul of all of us, regardless of age, race, religion, upbringing.

    Some could be: Star wars, LOTR, Harry P, many Disney stories, and Brother's Grimm tales, and Dan Brown's books maybe?

    Great points to ponder.

  6. The stories have been identified, so I'll add my own:

    Goldilocks and the Three Bears
    Sleeping Beauty
    Star Wars

  7. I know many, many younger people, especially men, who have never seen or read Gone With the Wind. Setting aside fairy tales and movies, I think that Tom Sawyer and To Kill a Mockingbird are books that are very American... if we didn't have to read them in school, they're in our cultural consciousness anyway. Perhaps also:

    Oliver Twist

    Stephen King's early works (Carrie, Cujo, The Shining...)


    Of Mice & Men

  8. I'm a bit surprised no one has mentioned, one of my personal favorites,
    The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. I feel like it is one of the most commonly read books for American high school or college students.


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