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The Redemptive SelfStories Americans Live By$
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Dan P. McAdams

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176933

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176933.001.0001

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A LIFE STORY MADE IN AMERICA

A LIFE STORY MADE IN AMERICA

Chapter:
(p.3) Prologue A LIFE STORY MADE IN AMERICA
Source:
The Redemptive Self
Author(s):

Dan P. McAdams

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176933.003.0001

Beginning with an account of how rescue workers responded to the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11, this Prologue sets forth the book's central thesis: The most caring and productive midlife adults in American society tend to construe their lives as stories of personal redemption. The redemptive self is a common narrative prototype found both in individual life stories and in such cultural sources as American legends and myths, Hollywood movies, and prime-time television. Whether viewed as a psychological construction or a cultural text, the story tends to follow this standard script: A gifted protagonist equipped with moral clarity and conviction journeys forth into a dangerous world, overcoming adversity, struggling to reconcile competing needs for power/freedom and love/community, and eventually leaving a positive legacy of the self for future generations.

Keywords:   redemption, generativity, American identity, narrative study of lives, 9/11

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