An argument can be made for the semi-autobiographical nature of John Edward Williams’ 1965 novel Stoner. The titular character of which is cultivated with such quiet brilliance and authenticity that can only come of the placement of self and personal history. Williams, the archetypal man of America, hence crafts Stoner, the archetypal hero of American literature. Through Stoner, it seems that Williams is reflecting on his life and unraveling its many puzzling aspects. Because of many of the coinciding events in the author and titular character’s life, and because of the arguments made for its realistic quality, this paper attempts to place Stoner in the league of most important literary heroes. An American literary hero contrasts with the archetypal British hero because of the disparate nature of the two norms. The setting of this novel, mainly on campus, is important in the examination of American culture because campuses, dense as they are, often exacerbate their society relatively well. Through Stoner, one’s understanding of literature, academia, American socio-political structures, and the role of the terrible wars in the lives of American society can be ascertained. Additionally, how one's surrounding conditions can affect the inner workings of an individual.
Keywords: World Wars, American Hero, Campus Novel, Academia, English Literature.