Americans have traditionally maintained a romantic, love-hate relationship with the notion of nonconformity. Deep down, we each cherish an iconoclastic image of ourselves. American movies and literature are full of rebel heroes and heroines who reinforce that image, from Melville's Bartleby the scrivener and Hawthorne's Hester Prynne to Joseph Heller's Yossarian and John Irving's T.S. Garp. At the same time (as these characters attest), we sure do resent it when other people don't behave the way we think they ought to -- that is, "like everybody else."
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