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In The Sympathizer, the narrator, flying away from America toward Viet Nam, speaks of that omnipresent American narcotic, optimism, the unending flow of which poured through the American mind continuously, whitewashing the graffiti of despair, rage, hatred, and nihilism scrawled there nightly by the black hoodlums of the unconscious.  (247) 

In an essay of no more than 1200 words, approach this quote from a perspective informed by BOTH James Baldwins The Fire Next Time and Rachel Carsons Silent Spring. In constructing your argument, consider what these authors have to say about what it meant to be American during the mid-twentieth century. What did it mean to embrace a culture of optimism and prosperity and yet grapple with the possibility of atomic (and chemical) extermination? What did it mean for nonwhite Americans to navigate an optimistic and relatively affluent society that nevertheless remained wedded to its internal systems of privilege?

You may engage one author principally and another in a more secondary fashion, but you must connect the three texts (Silent Spring, The Fire Next Time, and The Sympathizer) in your response to the prompt.


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