Essay 3: John Wayne’s America

Posted: March 28th, 2022

Essay 3 Due December 3, 2020.

This essay is based on your reading of John Wayne’s America. The author, Garry Wills, argues that Wayne’s characters on the screen personified Americana over the decades of his career. Viewers identified with him and the values that his characters stood for. In reading the book, I ask that you closely read the Prologue and Introduction to understand the type of arguments that Wills is making. While I would like everyone to read the whole book, I understand that we are nearing the end of the semester and you have other classes and assignments. So if you are limited for time, please focus on the later part of the book, section 5-7.


John Wayne was the 20th Century. But we are now living in the 21st Century. For your essay, I want you to argue in at least two full pages, which actor or actress do you think has best embodied the first 20 years of our new century. Frame your argument as Wills does for Wayne; think of the characters they have played and their significance, not the personal life of the actor or actress. How are they comparable to Wayne? What makes people identify with these characters? How do they personify Americana?


Please make sure to properly cite John Wayne’s America and any films that you reference in writing your essay.

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