Every humanities class has that one student who just loves to share their contentious and pretentious opinion, no matter how one-sided the topic may seem, just to stir up some drama. Sometimes it’s fun to sit back and watch the discussion unfold. Other times, it’s infuriating. Here are some books that the devil’s advocate loves to read when they aren’t instigating in your classroom!
The Great Gatsby
We all knew this was coming. There is just something about The Great Gatsby that screams, “I’m a little bit better than you… in every way, shape and form.”
The Great Gatsby is an American classic by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was first published in 1925 and it has since become incredibly well known. This story is told through the narrator, Nick Carraway, who moves into a cottage next to a mansion in New York. Jay Gatsby, the owner of this mansion, just so happens to be in love with Nick’s cousin, Daisy, who is married to a different wealthy man named Tom.
This is the book that most American students read in high school and are told about all of the hidden and complex symbolism. The devil’s advocate would argue that if you don’t like this book, it’s just because you “don’t get it.”
War and Peace
Anyone who reads a 1225 page Russian book written in 1867 about Napoleon’s invasion of Russia is going to talk about how they read it. The devil’s advocate kid definitely read War and Peace just to say they read the book and that they’ve become a changed person ever since.
Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye is on this list specifically for the devil’s advocate kid that relates to Holden a little too much that it becomes slightly suspicious. The Catcher in the Rye is your classic teen rebellion story written by J.D. Salinger.
The story is about a young boy named Holden Caulfield who has been expelled from his boarding school after failing most of his classes. He’s disillusioned with his life and society, and he embarks on a long trip home from boarding school to avoid telling his parents about his expulsion.
Holden loves to point out the phoniness of society at every chance he gets. While the world around us is definitely phony in many ways, some people just love to be contrarious. Just like Holden, the devil’s advocate kid enjoys the fun and chaos of going against what everyone else already thinks.
A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian satire with another young and rebellious narrator. The story follows Alex, a 15-year-old gang leader, as he becomes a violent criminal in and out of prison.
A Clockwork Orange specifically discusses the themes of good vs. evil and free will, which can be a dangerous combination when fully realized by the devil’s advocate kid. The devil’s advocate kid loves discussions on good vs. evil and free will because these simple discussions turn into the perfect opportunity to hit the class with the classic, “To offer a different perspective…”.
Paradise Lost might be the most obvious pick for this list. This epic poem, written in 1667 by John Milton, is a retelling of Satan’s fall from Heaven, but this time from Satan’s perspective. When he arrives in Hell, Satan and the other devils devise a plan to get back at God for his insufferable tyranny by destroying his beautiful creations: Adam, Eve and the rest of humanity.
Though the poem is supposed to make the reader pity Satan a little bit toward the beginning, the ending ends up aligning more with the more commonly known perspective of him. The devil’s advocate kid most definitely says, “Okay, but Satan lowkey had a point.”
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