90 pages 3 hours read

Amor Towles

The Lincoln Highway

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2021

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Themes

The Hero’s Journey as a Universal Experience of Self-Determination and Discovery

The Lincoln Highway weaves the stories of the hero figures in Professor Abernathe’s Compendium throughout the narrative, juxtaposing the similarities between the lives of the heroes with the unfolding of the events over the 10 days covered in the novel. Of the 25 celebrated figures featured, some are featured more prominently than others, but the relevant details of the lives of heroes specific to the circumstances at play are introduced at regular intervals through Billy’s incorporation of the Compendium into all of his interactions and private thoughts. Through these comparisons, it is gradually revealed that The Lincoln Highway is itself a hero’s story of redemption and self-discovery. At the center of the novel, Emmett figures as the main hero, but the story of Ulysses also provides a direct link between two men whose experiences, separated by thousands of years, mirror one another, and through which Ulysses Dixon seeks the path to his own retribution. The characters surrounding both Emmett and Ulysses serve essential roles in propelling their journeys forward, whether through providing assistance or presenting obstacles. The heroes in Professor Abernathe’s Compendium all face challenges both internally and externally, through challenges provided in their interaction with the outside world and in their own struggles to come to terms with themselves, their past transgressions, and their areas for growth.

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