For many children, myself included, one of the first Biblical stories they are exposed to is the story of David & Goliath. This story is the epitome of an underdog story: a young boy who longs to fight in the army despite others telling him he is too small, but is then able to prove his worth and slay the giant. Although the entire story of David & Goliath is multi-faceted and incorporates a wide variety of elements and themes, many American literary works that we have examined over the course of the year utilize certain aspects of this fascinating story. For many of these examples, who is David and who is Goliath can shift varying on the analytical standpoint, but the examination of the motif in all these cases is able to reveal a larger idea of the story and examine a deeper relationship between the characters.
One of the main works from Romanticism that we examined this year was Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Roger, Arthur, and Hester form the traditional love triangle that is still so prevalent in literature today. Who is who in this situation depends on whether you look at it from Hester’s point of view or society’s, but I think the allusion is most powerful if we consider Roger to be David and Arthur to be Goliath. Sure, the argument could be made that Arthur should be David since we are instructed to favor Arthur more, but Arthur’s resemblance to Goliath is more obvious as we consider that their relationship is shown as this big monstrosity construed by society: something that shouldn’t exist and something other people should be afraid of.
Many aspects of the relationship between Huck and Jim in Mark Twain’s exemplary work of realism The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn show parallels to this David & Goliath. The relationship between Jim and Huck resembles this story simply because Jim physically towers over Huck. Furthermore, many of the Israelites were afraid of Goliath, and similarly many of the townspeople mentioned in Twain’s novel had similar negative opinions of Jim and other African-Americans. They also come from vastly different cultural ways of life. In the Biblical situation, the Israelites and the Philistines were brought to war. The clash of the racial groups and the blossoming interracial friendship of Huck and Jim are some of the central themes in the novel, and although they are friends rather than enemies, the initial relationship between the two shows many parallels to this Bible story.
One central theme to the David and Goliath story is the idea of an underdog becoming victorious, and that is something that is examined in The Great Gatsby. The only difference between this and the actual story is that Nick and Gatsby weren’t enemies, but everything else is the same. Gatsby was this big hot-shot rich man, whereas Nick was a newcomer to this society trying to make it in the big city. This allusion carries on further as Gatsby ultimately meets his demise. Even though Gatsby does not die directly because of something Nick did, Nick’s presence probably had some kind of effect on his turnout.