In pursuit of the American dream: an analysis of Willa Cather’s O Pioneers Essay
O Pioneers, by Willa Cather, is set about a decade to the 19th century – 1880-1900. O Pioneers depicts the lives of the Bergsons – Joe and his wife, their daughter, Alexandra, and their sons, Lou, Oscar, and Emil, as they explore their lives and the vast Nebraskan land over a couple of decade s.
The settlers into Nebraska, for instance, the Bergsons, mainly originated from European countries such as Sweden and Norway. The immigrants were farmers and ranchers whose aim was to obtain food for themselves and their families, as well as to rear animals in the farms for economic purposes.
John Bergson’s struggle for survival as he endeavors to raise his family captures the life story of most of the early immigrants. He strives to establish himself economically in a tough and unforgiving environment: “In eleven years, John Bergson had made but little impression upon the land he had come to tame” (Cather 6).
The early immigrants, as illustrated by the Bergson’s case, were in an invariant struggle for survival. Therefore, the immigrant experience was one of struggle and hardship in an effort to tame the wild Nebraskan land for their farming and habitation.
The weather patterns were also a contributing factor in making the immigrants’ early experiences tough. John Bergson loses his entire flock in one winter as he tries to settle in Nebraska (Cather 6). Even after his death, his children have to contend with famines that make the life for the early immigrants almost unbearable.
Sixteen years after John Bergson’s death, “…Came the hard times that brought everyone on the divide to the Brink of despair; three years of drought and failure…” (Cather 28). Therefore, the early immigrants were in a constant battle for survival against the vagaries of a harsh climate that usually dealt a heavy blow on their best-laid plans and actions.
The experiences of the characters in the novel portray the endeavors of the early immigrants’ pursuit of the American dream. Primarily, the immigrants left their native countries to seek a better life (Veracini 110).
The instinct to forgo the comforts, which a home country offers by default and then sail across the oceans to a then wild and untamed America, was indicative of the immigrants’ spirit of adventure and the search for a better life. At the time when O Pioneers is set (1890-1900), many immigrants from Europe were still moving to America in numbers.
The Bergson family is originally from Sweden, and The Divide – the location in Nebraska where the novel is set, has many other Swedes, Norwegians, Russians, and natives from other European countries. At the very core, these immigrants sought a better life for themselves and their families. The very act of moving such vast distances in search of a better life signifies the immigrant’s pursuit of the American dream.
The experiences of these immigrants, for instance, John Bergson, speak a lot about the hard times they were willing to endure: “Bergson had spent his first five years on the Divide getting into debt, and the last six getting out” (Cather 34). The early immigrants, in their pursuit of the American dream, gave their all; the harsh climate and the extreme hard work involved in taming the wild lands of Nebraska took a toll on their health and even lives.
Most of the early immigrants died early or were plagued by diseases in their middle ages; for instance, Bergson dies at a comparatively young age of forty-six years, having spent his entire life trying to better it.
Ivar, once a prosperous farmer on the Divide, eventually loses his farm and stock due to the harsh and unpredictable weather conditions, leaving out his last days as a helper at Alexandra’s home. Therefore, for some characters like John Bergson and Ivar, the American dream is hardly realized in their lifetime; John Bergson’s children are the ones who eventually get to live the stable and prosperous lifestyle that their father might have envisioned.
The American dream is also realized by the acts of various characters in the novel. The American dream encompasses acts of benevolence and humanity that make society better and Alexandra’s actions portray this. From a young age, she shows a desire to make the lives of those around her better. She takes care of her younger brother, Emil, in the beginning of the novel and exhibits a leadership streak at an early age.
When their father dies, she is designated as the head of the family ahead of her brothers, Lou and Oscar. Subsequently, for nearly two decades, she leads the Bergson family towards prosperity. She is friendly and offers food and shelter to some members of the community at the Divide for whom the famine and draught has taken a huge toll.
Alexandra practices modern farming techniques that make her farm prosperous and she shares her fortunes with the less fortunate members of the society. Emil, her younger brother, also displays selfless attitudes by refusing to pursue a romantic interest in Marie Shabata. Actually, Emil moves away from the Divide in order to give Marie’s marriage the respect that it deserves.
Although Marie’s husband, Frank, in a fit of jealousy later shoots him, Emil does not fall into the temptation of courting another man’s wife even though both he and Marie had a deep affection for each other. Furthermore, Alexandra’s benevolence appears again when she pardons Frank even after he murders her brother, Emil.
Amongst the many reasons that immigrants had for immigrating to the US in the 1800s, the quest for a new life experience; a new start, was prominent.
By themselves, the immigrants were adventurers, ready for the challenge that new lands and climate offered. For instance, Alexandra describes her own mother’s willingness and readiness for challenge aptly. She states that, if her mother “were cast upon a desert Island, she (the mother) would thank God for her deliverance, make a garden, and find something to preserve” (Cather 58).
Almost as an innate characteristic, most of the immigrants were adventurous and were always ready to take up any challenge that settlement in a new environment brought. Even in the settled lands of America, many of the immigrants were always moving from one locality to another in search of better land for farming, better jobs, and better weather conditions (Post 460).
For instance, Carl Linstrum and his family move from the Divide when his father secures a better job at a cigar factory, and this almost nomadic nature of the early settlers drove them initially to move away from their European countries.
In conclusion, O Pioneers by Willa Cather is a fitting tribute to the adventurous spirit that immigrants to the US have always had. In search of a better life, many immigrants, as shown in the novel, made huge sacrifices in an attempt to live the American dream. One is tempted to believe that, the sense of adventure, sacrifice, and benevolence captured in the novel have run through the generations to this day, bequeathing to the US a characteristic that makes it the great nation that it is today.
Cather, Willa. O Pioneers. New York: Vintage Books, 1992
Post, Charles. “Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Colonial British North America: The Place of the American Revolution in the Origins of US Capitalism.” Journal of Agrarian Change 9.4 (2009): 453-483.
Veracini, Lorenzo. “The Settler-Colonial Situation.” Native Studies Review 19.1 (2010): 101-118.
A response to the article “Inequality and the American Dream” Essay
The article “Inequality and the American Dream” is written from an economic perspective. It addresses American economic state where the author argues that it needs certain adjustment in order to increase the upward mobility and exploit economic opportunities.
From a careful analysis of literature, it is evident that America has become a magnet attracting immigrants from all over the world. This has been attributed by the fact that its economy is dynamic thus offering chances for people to live a good life.
Nevertheless, it is undeniable that there is a lot of insecurity and inequalities where ordinary citizens have their lives reconciled to the rough side. This is ironical since America emerges as a super power at the global arena yet it has not achieved the dream of enhancing equality despite the notable development.
It has drawn my attention that other world countries embrace the “American model” since the super power has enormous wealth and its economic development is marked by up-to-date juggernauts of globalization and technology. Evidence from statistical analysis has shown that America experiences fast economic growth, a factor that leads to the rise of fat profits and low levels of unemployment.
Other countries in the world have watched the pace and development strategies used in America and have begun marching forward to Americanize their economies. A good example is that of my country, Japan which has tried to imitate America. One of the evidences to support this claim is the fact that my country has embarked on using the “American model” to foster globalization.
Like America, Japan has made its economy to become more flexible by encouraging free trade. This has also been done by adopting capitalism as a mode of production which has sparked stiff competition on available opportunities and resources such as land in order to maximize profits.
The country has also encouraged foreigners to invest on its economy by establishing trade policies which are meant to spawn huge wealth. Nevertheless, I have realized that as the economy develops, stiff competition from foreign investors have denied the natives access to crucial resources hence resulting to dissatisfaction due to the increased level of inequality between the rich and the poor.
This has also been witnessed in America where the bourgeoisies pull away all the resources from the poor leaving them as victims of poverty. Moreover, the model has not only disorganized the economy but has also affected the evenly distribution of wealth making it is impossible to achieve social mobility.
In fact, economic analysts have realized that globalizing Japan’s economy by allowing free trade has sparked adverse effects such as increased unemployment, reduced profits from local industries and reduction of wages for workers. This scenario has raised a huge debate not only in the national level but also in the global arena.
To recap it all, Thinkers hold high prejudice on the “American Model” arguing that it is a silent killer for any stable economy since it results to immigration, meritocracy and inequality. Therefore, every country should identify other models to achieve outstanding growth in the economy rather than adopting the “American Model”.
The American Dream by Edward Albee Play Analysis
The issue of the American Dream cannot get out of the picture of most Americans and aliens alike. People have come out to criticize or support it; however, Edward Albee gives it a rare treat. The satirical style of lamenting the illusions surrounding the American Dream makes Albee’s work a masterpiece. The essay shall analyze the setting, plot, writing style and main themes in The American Dream by Edward Albee.
Even critics would find this piece of art, both interesting and informative. According to Popkin, Albee admitted that, this is “an examination of the American Scene, an attack on the substitution of artificial for real values in our society, a condemnation of complacency, cruelty, and emasculation and vacuity, a stand against the fiction that everything in this slipping land of ours is peachy-keen” (26). The work is rich in elements of fiction, among them theme and imagery. The play is performed in multiple theatres of the country.
The American Dream
As the title suggests, he American Dream is the most prominent theme in this drama. The American Dream play is an apologue of how American life has turned awry under the pretext of the American Dream.
Mommy is sadistic, Daddy gelded, and Grandma acerbated. This play unveils what the American Dream left behind after its ‘timely’ death. Albee goes straight to the point and uses the Young Man to represent the American Dream. Though the Young Man is physically perfect, he is incompetent, especially after losing his twin brother, whom they separated at birth.
It is important to note that Mommy and Daddy have adopted the Young Man, who is the opposite of his brother, who is headless, feetless, and spineless among other deformities. The description given to the Young Man perfectly describes the American Dream. It was and still is perfect on paper but unattainable in practice.
Many Americans thought the American Dream would bring them joy and satisfaction; however, it brought them misery. Mommy and Daddy see the Young Man as “bumble of joy” because joy and satisfaction are what they expected from him. Unfortunately, the Young Man fails miserably.
As aforementioned, the Young Man is physically perfect; however, he cannot do anything correctly. Finally, he resorts to doing anything and everything that comes his way as long as he gets money. At this point, he becomes a symbol of ‘satisfaction’ to Mommy and Daddy.
Is this not what the American dream turned out to be? Americans quickly forgot what the dream was all about, corrupted it with materialism, mutilated, and killed it before it ever matured to reality. Albee precisely knows what happened to the dream. He knows that the dream was perfect, just like the Young Man; however, those supposed to nurture it became too engrossed in the material world that they forgot the real meaning of the dream.
Logically, the American dream was and is not an ideology; it is a person and possession; it needs ‘life’ for its realization. Nevertheless, the Americans got the idea of the American Dream wrongly. They thought that the dream was something that lived on its own, forgetting that they were the ones to make it alive.
The twins in The American Dream by Edward Albee symbolize the real American Dream and the ideological one. The Young Man (the American Dream) is like a mask without someone behind it. The murder of the twin brother of the Young Man represents the death of the person behind the mask. After the death of this person, what remains is the ‘lifeless’ mask, the Young Man.
Albee’s theme here is to show how misconceived Americans concerned this dream. Americans were the people supposed to drive and realize the American Dream; unfortunately, they withdrew to pursue material things forgetting their responsibilities in realizing the dream. In essence, Albee mentions that, without the person behind a mask, the mask can never do anything. Unfortunately, the American dream has remained as such, a cover without ‘life’ behind it.
Albee brings out the issue of emasculation in this play. Daddy is emasculated, and probably this gives Mommy a foothold to assault him. “As with many of Albee’s female characters—Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf perhaps being the most memorable—Mommy is the consummate “bad mother”: sadistic, jealous, greedy, and onward” (Esslin 45).
Daddy is a victim of Mommy’s sadism and violence. For example, as Daddy wakes up to answer the door call, Mommy derides him with her hyperbolized encouragement, for she knows this hurts his masculinity. Elsewhere in the play, Mommy mangles the ‘bubble of joy’; that is, the Young Man. This, too, is emasculation. In most of Albee’s works, he continually viewed women as a threat to society, especially if they gained power.
Disfiguration and Deformity
Disfiguration and deformity stand out clearly in The American Dream by Edward Albee. Grandma declares, this “is age is an age of deformity” (Albee 16). Almost everyone is deformed in this play.
At birth, Mommy had a cone-shaped head, the Young Man’s twin brother bears all forms of deformation, Daddy is disfigured through emasculation, and Mommy continually disfigures the Young Man while Grandma claims that old people are persistently becoming ‘twisted.’ These disfigurations and deformities symbolize what Albee calls the ‘slipping land’ that America has become.
Mayberry posits that “these corporeal disfigurements involve a disfigurement of language as well” (69). For instance, Mommy subterfuges the bumble after realizing that it “only had eyes for Daddy” (Albee 26). In this case, Mommy not only disfigures the bumble’s body but also defaces language by violently making literal trope and placing it onto the body.
According to Esslin, “Psychically, the logic of much of The American Dream‘s touted ‘absurdity’ is that of defense” (69). This comes out clearly in the way Mommy, Daddy, and Grandma react towards Mrs. Barker’s visit. For instance, Daddy is torn on whether to answer Mrs. Barker’s door call or not.
Throughout Edward Albee’s The American Dream, Mrs. Barker appears new to Mommy and Daddy despite the fact that they have known each other for a long time; actually, they share the same history of the ‘bumble of joy.’ On the other hand, even after Grandma ‘hints’ Mrs. Barker about their history, she does not seem to understand anything, and this is probably a cold defense for she does not want to remember the past, so she deliberately feigns misunderstanding.
“These supposedly absurd dodges are due to the traumatic nature of the party’s shared past, the memory of the ‘bumble of joy.’ Though no one has forgotten this past…the characters keep it from immediate consciousness nevertheless” (Hirsh 46). These characters are defensive, for they do not want to remember the good old days, which appear ‘traumatic,’ compared to the present situation.
Imagery in The American Dream Play: Summary
Grandma’s boxes are the only images used in this play. Albee suspends the revelation of the boxes’ contents or their role in the play. Daddy and Mommy are ever helping to wrap the boxes, but no one is concerned about knowing its contents. Interestingly, Mommy is not even curious about knowing the contents, and when Grandma tries to expose the inside of the boxes, Mommy stops her.
Finally, Grandma reveals the contents; long lists of items that she owned in her life. To this imagery, Mayberry notes that “In a play where an outwardly perfect Young Man becomes the son who provides satisfaction, it is perhaps easiest to consider Mommy and Daddy’s patronizing emphasis on the boxes’ wrapping as indicative of their satisfaction with surfaces” (184).
Gussow adds that “they allegorize the composition of the play, which largely consists of apparent and perpetually surprising diversions that keep the audience from the gist of the matter” (63). Whatever the purpose they play, these boxes are not ordinary boxes; they are images.
The play is one of the examples that represent the idea of American Dream in literature. Whilst a lot has been said about the American Dream, Albee gives this subject a rare treat by dramatizing the misconceptions that surround this valuable dream to Americans. Through satire, Albee reflects on the aftermath of the much-publicized American Dream. He uses fictional elements richly, and among them is the element of theme and imagery.
The American Dream analysis shows that the most prominent theme is the theme of the American Dream. Many Americans could not realize that the dream was not an ideology that would survive on its own; it needed some ‘life’ from Americans. Unfortunately, many Americans, just like Mommy, were busy mutilating this dream. Eventually, the dream became a ‘mask,’ a ‘lifeless’ mask.
Emasculation could not miss in Albee’s work, given his views on women as portrayed by female characters in his works. He describes women as ‘bad,’ and Mommy emasculating Daddy resonates well with this. Almost all characters in this play are defensive, for they do not want to remember their past. Finally, Albee employs imagery by using grandma’s boxes to signify the contents of the American Dream.
Albee, Edward. “The American Dream and The Zoo Story: Two Plays by Edward Albee.” New York: Plume Books, 1997.
Esslin, Martin. “The Theatre of the Absurd.” New York: Penguin Books, 1991.
Gussow, Mel. “Edward Albee: a Singular Journey.” New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.
Hirsch, Foster. “Who’s Afraid of Edward Albee?” Berkeley, CA: Creative Arts Book Co., 1978.
Mayberry, Bob. “Theatre of Discord: Dissonance in Beckett, Albee, and Pinter.”
Rutherford, N. J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1989.
Popkin, Henry. “Edward Albee.” New York: Thomas Crowell and Co., 1969.
Inequality and the American Dream Essay – Research & Examples
The phrase that America is a land of opportunities is a common one in many countries. This belief compels people from different parts of the world to travel to America with hopes of improving their lives, a fact that explains the ever increasing number of immigrants who troop into the country every year. However, what many people fail to understand is that America is characterized by numerous insecurities and inequalities.
The American model is considered by some countries an appropriate model of transforming struggling economies. This explains why many countries put a lot of effort to make their economies powerful, prosperous and productive.
The American economy is considered to be among world economies that have grown very fast, leading to reduced unemployment and huge profits. However, some Americans feel that there are no direct benefits associated with the seemingly grown American economy. Some of them have legitimate concerns about the American model although other countries try to imitate it.
For instance, the typical American worker is underpaid and college degrees do not guarantee American citizens well paying jobs. It is important for the system to address these issues before it boasts of having established a successful model. All the Americans should benefit from the model before it is described as being successful.
Although America is proud of its economic model, it has to think about its international reputation. Europeans hold a view that the country does not take care of its citizens as it was witnessed after Hurricane Katrina. A country that does not bother about the welfare of the poor leaves unanswered questions when it talks about having an economic model that can be adopted by other countries.
The inequality that characterizes the American economy is evidence enough that there are those who reap huge benefits at the expense of the rest of the population. Some individuals are extremely wealthy such that even if business stopped, they would still remain wealthy. This inequality does not portray a balanced economic model.
The American system is oblivious of the threat that people at the bottom of the economic system face. One of the concerns of these individuals is that their jobs are not exported to other countries but immigrants get into America regularly. The implication is that it is possible for their jobs to be taken up by rival workers who come from other countries.
It is important for the government to analyze the threats these individuals face and look for mechanisms of ensuring that wages of poor American workers remain stable. It is only after the poor workers are assured of their jobs that the American model can be said to be successful.
Although according to this article inequality is not inherently wrong, it is evidently wrong within the American system. For instance, while it is supposed to provide a safety net for the poor, it continues to oppress them. In addition, not everybody in the American system has an opportunity to climb up the economic system.
The system favors the rich and offers them more opportunities to rise. For the American government to claim to have developed an appropriate economic model that other countries can imitate, it must ensure that every citizen benefits from the model. The poor should be assisted to climb up the economic ladder and shield them from threats posed by immigrants who take up their jobs. Many countries seem to follow the American model but it still requires adjustments before it becomes effective.
The American Dream Essay
Since those times when America was discovered, many people overflowed to this continent in search of a better life. Those emigrants who hoped to find in America better political, economic, or private life, wanted to realize American Dream. The word “movement” has a figurative meaning connected with those emigrants from Africa, England, Ireland, Mexico, etc., who arrived in the USA, chasing American Dream.
What is American Dream? It is a phenomenon that symbolizes the ideal life of the USA population. American freedom includes success and prosperous life for everyone, regardless from the person’s origin or a social class. This idea is based on the United States Declaration of Independence which states that all people are equal, and have equal rights.
The practical realization of this dream is one’s own house, built on a private land. American Dream is tightly connected with the concept of “self-made person” that means a person who, with the help of individual hard work, achieves success in his/her life (Schnell 2).
Most of the emigrants, who arrived to the USA chasing their American dream, faced hard life, full of challenges and difficulties. Their American Dream was not realized, and they either died or resigned themselves to the dreadful way of life.
Thesis: The evasive American Dream rouses people to the unfulfilling reality.
The American Dream is United States’ national ideal. It offers freedom and a promise of prosperity in which life should get better and richer for everyone. It promises a fair chance for everyone with ability, without regard of social class or birth. Jennifer Hochschild succinctly defines the American dream as a set of “tenets about achieving success”.
According to President Bill Clinton, the American dream requires an individual to work hard to get a chance at advancement. Simply put, it is a persons’ attempt to achieve wealth and success through hard work and thrift. However, the American dream has remained difficult for many to achieve for a wide variety of reasons (Cullen 124).
Living the American dream is the ultimate dream for most of the American citizens and those aspiring to acquire American citizenship. However, the American dream has turned out to be a nightmare for them.
For many nowadays, the American dream has been rendered dead. Many who opted to get decent jobs better housing better health facility formal education etc. have languished to deteriorated living standards. Wages for many of the citizens have stagnated or fallen. Many authors have expressed failure of the American dream in their works. This theme is also very common in many contemporary works.
Education, Employment, Healthcare, Housing and the American dream
Many of those who sought better education resorted to working instead of studying. Financing education for many of the American citizens has become a heavy burden for them. US has the best education facilities and the best education system together with high technology, hence accessing this is quite an uphill task to those wishing to access this.
Unemployment has been the nature of the day many American citizens facing layoffs due to economic recessions. In addition, they are left to seek casual jobs to meet their end needs. With the minimal income of up to $40000 per year, they are unable to keep up with the high taxation bills and mortgage. This is due to the difficulty in economic mobility in the US. Many employed citizens have stagnated and unable to climb the economic ladder. Nevertheless the rise in economic inequality has contributed too many citizens missing out on the economic reward that comes with success.
Health services are also a serious concern. Even though America has the best health facility in the world, health care is a chronic problem to many American citizens. For those who are uninsured it has been a nightmare accessing these health facilities. Very few citizens are provided with this basic necessity by their employment companies. This has resulted to the sprouting of two health care systems for the haves and the have-nots (Bloom 93).
Housing is another factor that makes the American dream hard to achieve. Hunger and homeless is increasing every day street families are on the rise daily. As a result, they sleep and depend on the garbage sites. The state has constructed home for the poor to cater for these street families.
This has done little to reduce their ever growing numbers Poor housing state has hit almost one quarter of the US citizens. It is extremely difficult for the US citizens to own homes; this has prompted them to rely on mortgages. Many of them are unable to keep up with the mortgage hence face being evicted from their homes. Others spend the rest of their lives paying up the mortgage. The housing policy in the US has failed to provide a level ground for all citizens and those aspiring to acquire citizenship there to acquire this basic need.
American dream and the works of Denis Johnson and Raymond Carver
Jesus’s Son – Denis Johnson
Jesus’ Son is an anthology of eleven interlinked short stories, which are all narrated by the same character; a broken alcohol and heroin addict. The narrator (and protagonist) interacting with disturbed, drug addicts. Ultimately sympathetic characters of these linked stories. We follow the narrator through eleven short stories that revolve around wild incidents under the influence of drugs.
Car Crash While Hitchhiking
This is the opening story in the book. The narrator is involved in a traffic accident while hitchhiking. This bleak story takes a positive turn when the narrator rescues a baby trapped in a wrecked vehicle. He ends up in hospital.
The narrator describes a fight with his girlfriend at the start of this story. He then meets an interesting character named Wayne in a bar. He goes on a job with Wayne to tear down the walls of his old house to take out the copper wires and sell them. While so engaged, they see a naked red headed woman hang gliding. She is Wayne’s wife. Beverly Home
This is the last story in the collection. This story follows the narrator’s life after he has undergone drug rehabilitation. The narrator works as a newsletter writer in a nursing home. With all the patients suffering in some way, the narrator seems to have found a place to fits in. He is obsessed with a Mennonite woman he overhears singing.
As a result of his occupation at the home and his relationship with the Mennonite lady, the narrator finds acceptance. The narrator seemed destined for an incongruous ending. The story has an interesting and poignant ending. Through all of these stories, we see a hidden spirituality in the characters and so the ending of the book, while surprising, is inevitable.
The stories take place in different settings and give the reader a detailed description of the narrator’s outcast friends. We see him in myriad predicaments and at all stations of his life. The characters in these stories are all addicts in some way. These drugs and alcohol are the only certain factors of the narrator’s life. The settings of the stories are as varied as the narrator’s friends. The settings cover from Iowa, to Seattle to Phoenix.
The narrator does not reveal anything about his past to the reader. The narrator only divulges aspects of his self through his words and his many incarnations. He surrounds himself with a coterie of lowlifes who dwell in a bleak and violent American reality. The surreal quality, the intense fragility, of the narration is striking in Jesus’s Son. This voice does not seem to alter even when narrating the violent episodes that litter the stories.
Cathedral -Raymond Carver
This narration short story opens with the narrator anticipating his wife’s blind visitor. He has many reservations about the visit. His narration reveals his prejudiced nature. He does not make any effort to engage the blind man, Robert, in conversation, and choses to remain aloof.
Not unlike the characters in Carver’s stories, the main character in Cathedral is subconsciously alienated and lonely. The narrator is unsatisfied with his occupation, and has petty resentments towards his wife. He does not get attached to people. The narrator is essentially blind, unaware of his actions and their effect on others. He lives in unique oblivion, isolated from others by his prejudice and beliefs.
The narrator disdains his visitor for no other reason but his sightlessness. He carelessly throws rude stereotypes into the conversation. This bias, to the extent that he refers to the visitor simply as ‘the blind man’, reveals his misplaced feelings of superiority.
The narrator betrays his opinion that Robert’s life must be far inferior since he has no sight. The narrator finally comes to realize that he, and not Robert, is actually blind. Despite his handicap, Robert has made the most of life. He has travelled and educated himself by listening to educational television programs and reading books.
Robert continues to better himself, unlike the narrator who has stagnated in his smug self-satisfaction. The narrator appears unmotivated, is a habitual drug user and does not seek to improve himself. The narrator sees Robert as a temporary imposition on his life, a trifling inconvenience. Robert, however, enables him to become self-aware. The narrator attempts to describe a cathedral he has just seen on TV to Robert.
Robert asks him to draw it with him instead. It is here, with narrator closing his eyes and Robert holding his hand, that the narrator experiences an epiphany. By drawing the cathedral with Robert, the narrator has become open to a completely new world. Before the drawing, the narrator had a strong bias towards Robert. Yet this time the narrator feels a difference between the two.
The narrator feels liberated saying, “I didn’t feel like I was inside anything” (Carver 13). The narrators experience with Robert allows him to view his life from an entirely new vantage point.
When the drawing is complete, the narrator keeps his eyes closed and continues to use the experience as an awakening. The narrator now realizes that life is “really something” (Carver 13) and he would benefit from changing his lifestyle. Ironically, it is through his experience with a visual impaired man, that Robert is introduced to an entirely new perspective on life.
Raymond Carver’s “Preservation” and the American dream.
Preservation by Raymond Carver is a story about working class white Americans who are bemused and fed up with the American dream that they see on the television. These working class Americans have always hoped to achieve this dream, although so far in their toil they have never even set their eyes on it.
The characters in this story have never protested against these disappointments and disillusionment in the American dream. Instead, they channel their views and anxieties of the dream to drugs and alcohol. They have focused their attention to the day-to-day details of their lives as opposed to struggling to achieve the American dream.
In Caver’s story, Preservation, lacking a job in America implies lacking a name. The unnamed husband in the story, who is also unemployed, has recently been retrenched form his job that involves putting up roof tops on new houses.
He was having difficulty finding a new job “His face began to sweat as he tried to describe to Sandy the milling crowd of men and women down there in the unemployment office” (Carver 36). The husband in this story becomes numb, and Sandy, his wife, just stands there helpless. She observes her husband as a compilation of body parts that are becoming less powerful by the minute:
“Her husband’s bare feet stuck out from one end of the sofa. At the other end, on a pillow which lay across the arm of the sofa, she could see the crown of his head. She saw his head down on the pillow that lay across the arm of the sofa. He adjusted the pillow under his head and put his hands behind his neck. Then he lay still. Soon she saw his arms move down to his sides…. His eyes were shut. His chest seemed to rise and then fall” (Carver 44).
Each time Sally looks at her husband, repetition of the words hands, sofa, head, feet, and TV occur. These words together with the husband’s body parts are depicted like having equal weight. His arms or eyes’ depiction is not any different with the sofa or the newspaper.
This lack of distinction between her husband, who she sees as body parts, and the nonliving objects around him is the leading conflict in this story. “Her husband- who is almost reclining, living now in the living room- is becoming a vegetable, an object, separated into parts, in the field of their home” (Carver 46).
Sandy’s memories, of men who contribute nothing in the lives around them, are used metaphorically to relate to her husband who is slowly getting into that category. She recalls of her friend’s story about an uncle who went to bed at 40 and was still alive 63 years later.
The uncle used to cry each day winning about his fear of getting old. She also recalls he father, who after divorcing her mother, bought a car in an auction and later died in it after inhaling carbon monoxide from the car (“He stayed in the car until someone found him a few days later.”) These memories follow one another and put emphasis on the failure of the American dream, making men useless in front of their families.
The husband in this story is preserved by lying on the sofa, although he has no job. His wife realized just how useless he has become, how apart they are drifting from each other, and how his job, Freon and energy has been lost. In as much as families have gained a massive amount of disillusionment in the American dream, they still hope that something will happen and make that dream a reality. Sally hopes that someone might turn up and offer her husband a job, or that she might buy a new refrigerator before everything in the house spoils.
The American dream is a public vision that involves America’s identity. The American dream has turned into a myth that is inconsequential as far as the socioeconomic identity of America is presently concerned. The American dream refers to the act of pursuing happiness by every person as shown in the Declaration of Independence. The American dream is more of an ideology that is rooted in the mind of people. With thus the American dream is just a mere mirage to the many people aiming for it around the world (Palecek 58).
Bloom Harold. The American dream. Kansas: Infobase Publishing, 2009. Print.
Carver, Raymond. Fires: Essays, Poems, Stories. New York: Random, 1972.
Cullen, Jim. The American dream: A short history of the idea that shaped a nation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.
Palecek, Mike. The American Dream. New York: CWG Press, 2006. Print
Schnell, Hildegard. The American Dream. GRIN Verlag, 2010. 1-3.
The death of the American dream Definition Essay
America is the land of opportunity. This was the message and the intention of the American declaration of independence, which exhorted the virtues of truth, and that all men (people) are equal regardless of race, age, gender, association, religion or any other matter that may create disharmony in the society. The declaration also states that all Americans are endowed by their Creator with a number of inalienable rights such as right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (Today’s American Dream para 14).
The declaration independence recognized the importance of acknowledging the relationship between man and his creator. It also gave birth to The American Dream, an idea that sought to establish social order and posterity for all Americans. The dream was build on the principle of liberty; the essence of political, economic and spiritual freedom, that sought o guarantee all American equal opportunities.
The American dream has gone through a series of interpretation and as such lost much of its original meaning. Today the American generation has lost touch with the values that informed the dream. Originally the dram was equated with the principles of the pursuit of happiness through freedom and respect to basic human rights. Presently however, the dream is equated with material possessions and the happiness that comes out of such materialism (2).
Most American think that the pursuit of the American dreams is the acquisition of a well paying job, a good house, a car and the happiness that comes from enjoyment of such things. The moral and ethical aspect of the dream has been lost and as a result, moral decay has planted itself in the society. It is the moral decay that leads to the loss of freedom, the very essence of the founding of the American dream (6). Therefore the attainment of the American dream is today hindered by the pursuit of material wealth.
The original intention of the American dream was happiness attained from the enjoyment of life but the pursuit material wealth has reduced enjoyment of life and instead replaced it with pursuit of material pleasure. Americans have confused the enjoyment of life with the pursuit of material pleasure. Csikszentamihalyi explains that Real enjoyment of life involves activities that require more effort and will power and which lead to long term benefits to the person (362).
Such activities may include training hard to perfect ones skill or talent or even the pursuit of a person’s hobby without any artificial obstacles placed to hinder the person to pursue that hobby. Engaging in activities that guarantee real enjoyment of life is not usually a pleasant experience as a person may have to go through a moment of physical pain and fatigue.
However the pain is usually worth it as these activities help a person overcome certain challenges in life and also lead to spiritual fulfillment. Therefore these activities are more meaningful to a person and lead to the attainment of more meaningful personal goals rather than just the pursuit of pleasure.
Americans are much more concerned with the comforts of material pleasure that the real enjoyment of life eludes them. This is because material pleasure is always pleasant to the body person may opt to engage in activities such as going on expensive holidays in exquisisyte destinations. The benefits of such pursuits are short lived and add no meaning to a person’s life. Such activities require a lot of matearsil wealth and lead to the consumer culture.
The average American thinks that the American Dream is found in consumption and through this consumption a person feel whole and worthy (Calder 5). Most Americans today know the American dream as the ideal life that involves at least a good house and a good job and the ability to buy two family cars.
This notion of the American dream is further rubbed in by the American media which paints success as the accumulation of much money which will in turn enable one to accumulate much wealth and a good life (3). To the average American a good life involves the ability have heaven on earth; the opportunity to exploit all the pleasures that materials things offer 0721223336. The American dream is further symbolized and idolized in such iconic figures as Marylyn Munroe, who is the representation of a perfect life in the 1970’s America (4).
Search attitudes lead to a culture of overconsumption. What American consume is way beyond what America produces and cannot even be compared to what Brazil, a country that constitutes 10% of the world economy consumes (Shaw para 1). American do all this with total disregard of the fact that it “takes more than a credit card to achieve the American dream” (Calder 5). This is because the American dream involves the attainment of value driven goals rather than material driven goals (Today’s American Dream para 2).
Such consumer behavior is driven by greed and selfishness and results in the desire to acquire as much wealth as possible by individual at the expense of the values that propagate the growth and the benefit of an equal society for all (Sustainable Consumption and Production para 2). As Today’s American Dream explains such pursuit of material well being leads to the moral decay in the society (para 6).
The pursuit of the material has lead to the evolution of a society that has the tendency to over consume as well as the desire to accumulate as much wealth as possible for the individual at the expense of the societal well being, which leads to moral decay. Such ideas tend to justify the means to the attainment of such ends.
Therefore the average American is increasingly embracing such values as dishonesty and greed through which an individual in guaranteed personal success (Wuthnow 28). The result is that the American work force if full of professionals who cannot uphold integrity and honesty, are much more willing to commit crime and whose only reason of not committing the crime is the possibility of being caught rather than the commitment to the moral principles and ethics.
Such moral decadence traverses all aspect of the American society. To make it worse, such immoral values are taught by some professors in school, who have been known to encourage students to practices certain values as greediness, justifiable means for personal success (interpreted to mean the achievement of the American Dream)(26).
As such the moral fabric of the American society has been found deficient. Such immoral pursuit of personal gratification is in contrast to the tenets laid down by the founders of the American Dream. The founders of this noble dram saw a worker who was a patriot and would serve the country through commitment to moral principles and ethics such as truth honesty and integrity.
The American Dream proposed for individuals who worked fro the betterment of the larger society and as such subordinated the individual fulfillment to societal well being. Therefore, the consumer culture is so popular with American today and is seen as the attainment of the American dream. Ironically it propagates moral decadence which infringes on the same freedom that the American Dream seeks to fulfill.
The initial intention of the American dream was to establish an orderly society, where every individual was equal to and enjoyed basic human rights, the most important of them being individual liberty. The essence of individual liberty was to guarantee peace love and posterity.
However, this noble definition has been lost with time and in its place replaced by the pursuit of materialism. This notion of material success is so much ingrained into the current American society that American thinking is the ultimate American dream. The pleasure derived from the comfort and enjoyment of these material possession confused with the enjoyment of life that is stipulated in the American declaration of independence.
By declaring enjoyment of life, the America founding fathers meant the pursuit of value driven activities and not pleasure driven activities. This is because pleasure driven activities would lead to moral decadence that would infringe on the same freedom that the American dream sought to achieve. However it is not all lost on the Americans. Americans can by discourage material rewards, such as a new car for a child who has performed well in school as a way to overcome the material curse
Calder, Lendol. Financing the American Dream: A Cultural History of Consumer Credit. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. 1999.
Csikszentamihalyi, Mihaly. “Enjoyment As An Alternative To Materialism.” In Consumer Society and the Urge to Splurge. The New Yorker Collection. 2002.
Shaw, Jonathan. “Debtor Nation: The rising risks of the American Dream, on a borrowed dime.” Harvard Magazine. 2007. 30, March 2011 July-August 2007 https://harvardmagazine.com/2007/07/debtor-nation.html
Sustainable Consumption and Production. “Attitudes about Materialism, Consumption and the Environment.” n.d. 30, March 2011 http://enb.iisd.org/consume/mer_5.html
Today’s American Dream. “Founding Fathers and the True American Dream.” 2011. 30 March 2011. https://www.todaysamericandream.com/
Wuthnow, Robert. Poor Richards Principle: Recovering the American Dream through the Moral Dimension of Work, Business and Money. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. 1996. Print.
The American Dream: Walt Disney’s Cinderella and Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man Research Paper
All around us stories abound of how people struggle to attain the American dream. Wherever we go everybody wants to have a piece of this life and as a result, it has been the inspiration behind most of these great achievements in our lives. After watching Walt Disney’s Cinderella and Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man, I became interested to analyze the process of the American dream, how the different genders work towards attaining them and what the society expects of every gender.
Comparing these two movies one comes to one very important conclusion; that a man has to struggle, act to lift himself and his family from the vestiges of poverty to becoming rich. This status is equaled to the American dream. This is in contrast to the woman, who like in Cinderella’s case she is passive and waits for miracles in order to finally live the dream.
There are many ways to explain this concept, and many a times people have tried to break it down according to their understanding of the ethos. Listening to stories of big time multi millionaires or even billionaires and how they made it all the way from scratch may not be enough to make one understand the American dream.
The real surprise is how the actual dream is attained. Smith describes the American Dream as “an idea, which suggests that all people can succeed through hard work and that all people have the potential to live happily, astride with their success in life” (Hoobler, 63).
This, however, is a short description of what the dream entails, but he fails to mention the other cognitive factors at play that may propel or hinder one from living this dream, for instance gender and the society. There are many viewpoints towards which people relate to this dream; this has been redefined over time courtesy of the ever changing social and cultural norms in the American society.
The bigger picture
In order for us to gain a broader perspective into the idea that bore the ethos that is the American dream, we first delve into what, when and where it was originally launched. The idea is a philosophy that was founded by America’s forefathers, who enshrined it in their constitution as a matter of declaration of independence (Leo, 12).
This philosophy states that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” It is by these virtues that America has identified its statesmen, loyalists, heroes and the people that struggle daily to ensure that America remains the haven it is (Leo, 12). Many other people have tried to define the American dream and expound on their understanding of the philosophy.
James Truslow in his definition and understanding of the term explains that with the American dream, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth” (Hoobler, 24).
This is what has motivated the Americans to be the best in what they do, to provide the best to their people and embrace democracy full throttle. In this paper, I will analyze the different mirrors through which gender has played a huge role defining how the male and the female of our species are working towards attaining the dream.
To help us bring out the clear disparities that be, which almost always are the societal standards in most cases or rather the path through which man goes through, we shall analyze two different pieces of art. These are movies which were presented to various audiences over time, and their main agenda is one; the American dream.
The first movie, Cinderella man highlights the struggles man has to go through to get whenever his ambitions and dreams beseech him to be. The other movie called Cinderella was directed by Clyde Geronimi, it highlights and points out the woman’s role in the dream.
These two directors lead us through the different experiences and lifestyles the characters have gone through. There are obviously divergent perspectives on issues and the different social expectations they bear although they have one aspect that is common to the both of them; The American dream. This is the real motivation behind their daily struggles, and whatever they pass through in their struggles, it is the promise of the American dream that keeps them strong and going.
Walt Disney’s Cinderella
In this classic story, we follow the tale of a beautiful girl who undergoes a torturous journey through life with her step family. She is hated, scorned and despised by even her family members. She is subject to her family’s inclination, whatever it would be. This goes on until when her fairy godmother intercepts and helps her.
She makes her meet a handsome bride who comes along her path in life, falls in love and proposes to her. They get married and live happily thereafter. The movie is one of the most famous to have been used through time, and as such has sparked scholars’ interest to read it through, analyze and research on what it is about the book that continues to fascinate people across the different races and generations. Its universality and timelessness have also contributed to its popularity.
The story is pulled off from far- fetched context but the main idea revolves around the American dream. In her books, Disney creates a world that is beyond the real, with bigger parameters about the boundaries of life. It a wonder world, one that critics and fanatics a like claim was the perfect mirror for the American dream. Others just call it the “perfect American dream” (Ted 13).
Though a good number of people (the critics) feel that the world is fake, claiming that it is just a fickle of a persons imagination, it has been a sanctuary of hope and for most the inspiration behind their daily struggles.
To the critics, fanatics urge that there is no better presentation or any other means through which the dream has been so deeply yet vividly embodied, they urge that we live at a time when the American dream is getting bigger and bigger yet the platform to attain it is quickly eroding. This is attributed to the fact that the original ideas and the fundamental principals that founded the dream are quickly fading away given the changing fortunes of the average American.
Through Cinderella, Disney creates in us a platform where we revive our child hood dreams; we revisit our former worlds and the comforts they present in the midst of the confusion that surrounds us. Disney world provides a platform where families, friends and relatives meet once in a while. The comfortable and soothing atmosphere makes them to part with their sorrows and their myriad problems.
The movies and the soothing atmosphere provide an ample opportunity for one to revisit his fantasies. Much as Disneyworld is an artificial place, it still attracts people from far and wide, and researchers attribute this to its physicality. It is the people’s imitation of Disney world and their unwavering desire to attain and live the dream that compels them to work so hard (Lloyd, 16).
Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man and the American dream
Ron Howard has also directed a play that revolves around the American dream. His is a male character who, at the end of everything achieves the goal to see his wife and children live and operate within the world he worked so hard to build (Hoobler, 24).
His attainment of the American dream is however different from Clyde’s Cinderella because he has to bear the worst of circumstances and, undergoes the worst of situations to attain it.
In Cinderella man the play sets out to explore the life of a boxer, James Walter Braddock. Initially, we meet James doing well, he has everything he needs. This, however is short lived since sometime later he loses everything he has thanks to the great depression that swept the region he was operating in then.
He lost all he had, but this was not enough to pin him down to poverty, or living a low life; not even a broken limb. To get back on top, to living the life he had; to attain the American dream he had to struggle. In his world there were neither fairies nor fairy tales, it was stark reality staring him right in the face. He had a family that was looking up to him and children who expected much from their father, all these he had to shoulder and get his family back to the top.
How the male reaches the American dream
Man, according to the above plays and even in life generally, has to struggle and work hard to attain this dream. He shoulders everything if he has a family, and when he is just starting to venture out he is exposed to the harsh realities in life (Leo, 33). To fulfill his ambitions he has work from rags to riches.
He has to stand against all the odds, whatever society and life brings against him. He is expected to shoulder all these, get married and carry the burden that is his family and maintain the status quo; operate within his class, one of people who have attained the dream. It does not matter how he is faring on health wise, broken limb or not that burden is still his.
How the female uses the American dream
On the other hand, the woman does not strive as hard to attain the dream. She may be poor and belong to the lowest of classes in the society she operates in, but when she gets married she gets elevated to the man’s position (Ted, 16). She directly inherits the class the man operates in and this therefore becomes her new social class.
That is how women are depicted to attain the American dream. When the husband’s fortunes dwindle or somehow they are lost she plunges into paucity with him, and will stay there till the man works his way and lifts himself up to regain his status in the society. The woman around him automatically takes up after the husband, and her lifestyle reflects her husbands.
From the readings above and the observations made from around, it is clear that the society has clear cut distinctions on how the man and woman attain this dream. It is collective to both genders in that they complete the cycle together, but the man struggles harder to attain it. He then provides this to the wife and family. This is the hallmark of a man’s success in the American society. The woman on the other hand, stays passive patiently waiting for her turn to prosper which then would be brought about by the man’s prosperity (Lloyd, 18).
Hoobler, Thomas. Captain John Smith: Jamestown and the birth of the American Dream, 20-65. London: Oxford university press, 2006. Print.
Leo, Lemay. “Franklin’s Autobiography and the American Dream,” Ed. J. A. Leo Lemay and P. M. Zall. 12-33. New York: Perennial-Harper, 2006. Print.
Lloyd, Brown. “The American Dream and the Legacy of Revolution in the Poetry of Langston Hughes” Studies in Black Literature. 16-18. New York: St. Martin’s, 1976. Print.
Ted, Ownby. American Dreams in Mississippi: Consumers, Poverty, and Culture, 1830-1998, 13-16. Utah State UP: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. Print.
Is the “American Dream” still alive? Essay
Is the American dream still coming to be? Ask this question among many Americans and according to each person’s experience you will get different answers. Some Americans do not even know what to believe anyway and they will say it is confusing to them. People do not have a clear answer if the American dream is still alive or dead. Still, it is not well understood who is to achieve the dream. Is it the government or the citizens?
After the terrorist attack in September 11, the American dream for many came to a sudden death. Yes, talk about the immigrants in America who have faced a dramatic change in their life plans. All immigrants run to America where they believe freedom exists. They come with their heads so high, hopes so bright to pursue happiness and wealth without the fear of losing it all in a flash.
It is a dream for immigrants from the Middle East to be in America; a country where discrimination is history and where no one will prevent them from achieving their dreams in life. They all work hard and stay away from trouble just to gain citizenship in America so they can achieve their dreams. This was the case before hundreds of people died in a terrorist attack. After the attack, that what was when their light at the end of the tunnel became their worst nightmare (Hernandez 98).
The America with a dream has now turned against its dream in the name of making America a safe place free from terrorism. The immigrants from the Middle East now watch as their rights disappear in the darkness of security. Imagine an immigrant worshipping at home as the thought of been seen in a mosque by the “law-keepers” make him shiver.
The “law-keepers” can be any of them; be it the FBI or the Homeland Security, they have all joined hands to ensure the Muslims do not attack. Why does one suffer just because his religion is associated with terrorism? Is that not what they run away from in their home countries?
The privacy right is now a dream among immigrants from the Middle East. All they say, do or go is known. There is no freedom left to them even though they are away from their countries and the sound of blasting bombs. Those in school face it harder as what you borrow from the library is known.
My friend who is a Muslim will have broken the law if he moves without notifying the INS about the change in his address. This will mean been deported back to “hell” where freedom was killed by war and greed. How do our friends who are Muslims become citizens if it is already impossible to enjoy the few immigrants’ rights? I remember my friend telling me a horrifying story he experienced in the airport when travelling.
Muslim immigrants queuing before him were taken from the queue for interrogation. These days the law keepers can break into their homes without warrants or arrest them and hold them for long in the name of ensuring security against terrorist attack. What is left for them to believe in anymore? What they thought was a bright new start is now a dead end.
Today, if you are from the Middle East, name it the Arabic land, then job security is no longer assured. Employers are sending home employees who are Muslims just because they do not have full citizenship in America. Is America not supposed to be free from discrimination? Those working in sensitive areas like technology are denied their dreams when written-off from their paycheck.
It makes it worse when you cannot question what caused your being sent home. Mention a name that is associated with insecurity and you will be paid a visit by security officers for questioning. It has become hard for immigrants to fight their way in achieving their dreams. How do you work hard to be a citizen of country where the freedom you came to seek is discriminative?
America has a dream to be free from racial discrimination. However, is this dream coming to be or is it still out of reach? How do you rejoice to be born with a certain color while the other curses to be born of another color? You forget it was not your choice to decide in which color to be born. When will we all rejoice to be born Americans and not of a certain color? (Davis-Laack 124).
Worry if you are born a black-American, as you will find yourself reading a notice saying “for whites only”. There is still the dream that one day a notice like that will be replaced by another saying “welcome all”. Am I still a citizen of America if by just being a Negro I cannot enjoy the richness of my country? If I travel for a long distance and its nighttime and I need a place to rest I cannot find one.
Hotels will not admit me just because of my color. I still believe that a day will come that all no matter what color, origin, or religion will share a hotel. A day will dawn when all our kids, black or white will hold hands and play together. A day that ghettos will be history as all America has will be for all of us.
The police have come to believe in existence of a “criminal race”. No matter how hard you try to avoid trouble if you have this race’s color the police will treat you like them. It is time us, the “criminal race” stopped fighting fire with fire but instead fought for our place through use of our inner energy.
Who will achieve the America dream? The answer to this question by many people will point to the white people. However, whose dream is this? Is it for the white people or black? Is the dream really for America? I believe this dream is for America and if you are in this ship called America then you can achieve it.
All people can achieve this dream because it gives us the opportunity to define it according to what we believe in. Every person then has the opportunity to decide on the means and ways to achieve it. It is time we stop blaming President Obama for the poor economic times. It is time we stop to wait for the American dream to happen while we do nothing. The American dream is supposed to encourage us to work hard as Americans to achieve our dreams in it.
In America today, about one million mortgages are in default and people blame it on the economic recession. Others believe that the dream of one day having their own home, working one job and that they will retire at 65 with retirement benefits is dead. Its time people defined the American dream. This will help them achieve their full capability. This will ensure that they are accepted by others, regardless of their birth or position situations.
Its time people took responsibility to enable them achieve their dreams as a contribution of keeping alive the American dream. My friend became a surgeon though his father was drug addict. He is proud having achieved his dream through determination and handwork. Today is the time Americans did their part no matter what challenges they face to making the American dream a reality.
Though the future is beyond tomorrow and full of uncertainties, I belief the American dream will come to be. The time is now when all of us will be Americans, not Muslims and Christians, not blacks and whites. Americans will fight with economic recession without pointing fingers to the government.
This is the time when everyone’s dream will be a reality. This is the time when immigrants will be citizens and respected in their workplace and a time when all states will be homes for all. The future of the American dream is the future of our dreams. The handwork Americans are putting on their dreams will make the American dream become a reality in the future to come.
American dream is not all about becoming free from discrimination, or enjoying your rights fully but it is all about progress (Hansen 89).
This progress starts with every American citizen no matter which race, color, region or economic status. The American dream is all about each American setting their own goal and stopping at nothing until they achieve it.
Though as America we have failed in things like economic progression, sacrifices must be made to work the way up to progression. The future of American dream is still alive and bright as Americans follow the slogan of our President Obama, “Yes We Can”. With this faith Americans are striving to achieve their goals in life, which implies the gradual achievement of the American dream.
Davis-Laack, Paula J.D. Is the American Dream Still Alive? 2010. Web.
Hansen, Davis. The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Speech that Inspired a Nation. New York, NY: Harper Collins. 2003. Print.
Hernandez, Daisy. The Illusory, Elusive American Dream. 2010. Web.
Is the American Dream Still Alive? Essay
The debate about the American Dream has been common in recent years. Some people have held that the American dream is alive, whereas others have contested this argument asserting that the American Dream remains elusive.
There are various events which have taken place in the United States that have greatly impacted the aspect of the American Dream. Nonetheless, the future of the dream rests with the people and their resilience in pursuing it. This paper will elaborate on the concept of the American Dream in a modern day America.
The American Dream
The American Dream can be defined as a summation of national values entrenched in the culture of the United States. The dream emphasizes on the freedoms and rights of American citizens, and promises the prospect of prosperity and accomplishment. In early 1930s, James Truslow Adams defined the American Dream as something different from the conventional belief.
He argued that the dream should not be defined in terms of material things and good employment opportunities. Instead, the definition should be based on social grounds, whereby every individual has to exploit his or her potential maximally irrespective of his or her background (Davis-Laack,para 4).
In essence, the definition of the American Dream depends on an individual. Some people define it in respect to economic success; others in terms of education; while others define the term in relation to equality in social justice. It is true that as the American society keeps changing, so does the definition of the American Dream.
During times of economic hardship, people define the dream in respect to the economy; in times of civil strive, as the case during the civil rights movement, it was defined in terms of social justice and equality. Everyone coming to the United States holds a unique definition of the American Dream (Davis-Laack,para 5).
Factors affecting the achievement of the “American Dream”
In the pursuit of the American Dream, there are various factors which come in the way of individuals concerned. Race and ethnicity are among the various factors that affect the pursuit of the American Dream.
In this regard, the minority groups in the United States are often on the receiving end when pursuing the American Dream. For instance, when the economic recession hit the U.S., most of those who were affected were Latinos and African Americans. This is because a huge percentage of those who lost their jobs were from these minority groups (Hernandez,para 5).
Another aspect affecting the achievement of the dream is the economic environment. In this case, most individuals hope to land a job opportunity to make a living. In addition, to have achieved the American Dream, individuals struggle to have a home of their own. Therefore, people measure their achievement in respect to having secured a decent job and being able to own a home (Hernandez, para 11; Davis-Laack, para 5).
Apart from the economic and race factors, there is another factor which affects achievement of the American Dream. This includes equal treatment of people irrespective of their nationality, race, ethnicity and financial position. In his famous speech, Martin Luther King Jr. elaborated on the need to treat individuals based on the content of their character as opposed to the color of their skin.
He outlined social injustices as a major impediment towards the realization of the American Dream among the African Americans. Martin Luther King longed for a society where everyone will be treated equally and social justice upheld among all racial groups (King, Jr., paras 13; 17).
Is the “American Dream” achievable for all people? Why or why not
In the modern American society, it can be observed that the American Dream has remained elusive to many Americans. This is because many people in the United States have found it difficult to realize the dream. The immigrant population in America is the most affected. This is because they have found it difficult to realize the American Dream.
This is despite the fact that it was the main attracting factor that made them leave their home countries. The American society is viewed as one in which democratic tenets are the main pillars. In this case, America is depicted as a society which offers an opportunity to individuals to express themselves and enjoy the necessary freedoms and rights as human beings. America is also seen as a society that is tolerant to differences and one that embraces diversity (lam, para 20).
The immigrants had a hard time coming to the United States in the recent past. Things turned from bad to worse following the September 11th terrorist attacks. The immigrant population in the United States has been subjected to unfair treatment, all under the guise of national security (lam, para 3).
Essentially, the American society often shifts blame to the immigrant population when things go haywire. Following the economic crisis that rocked the U.S., immigrants were blamed for having been the cause. In addition, in the war against terrorism, the immigrants are often used as a scapegoat and blamed for terrorist activities (lam, para 5).
In most instances, the immigrants are denied their rights and freedoms under the pretense of facilitating national security. The adoption of the U.S.A. Patriot Act has made it official to arrest immigrants without warrants and rubberstamped the subsequent detention of suspects for undesignated period (lam, para 6).
The government security agencies conduct unchecked surveillance over the immigrant population. Immigrants of Arab origin are more likely to bear the brand of the new security measures as they stand the risk of being arrested and deported on trivial grounds.
The advancement in technology has worsened the situation for the immigrant population. They are subjected to surveillance and wiretapping without their knowledge. A new program, Total Information Awareness, that is aimed at identifying terrorists is being developed by Pentagon and might be put to usage in the near future.
The right to privacy of the immigrants has been infringed as the government security agencies are protected by legislation to spy on the immigrants (lam, para 12). The immigrants also risk losing their jobs if they speak out their opinion. All these aspects make the achievement of the American Dream futile to some people.
Apart from the immigrant population, it can be noted that the minority groups in the United States find it difficult to achieve the American Dream. Racial profiling is a common trend among the police. In this regard, people of African American descent and other minority groups are arrested and imprisoned on trivial violations of the law. Essentially, there has been a bias in the manner in which the police conduct their arrests.
The future of the “America Dream”
The American Dream has remained an elusive aspect even though it is the driving engine that puts the United States in a leading position in the world. The American Dream lays emphasis on hard work which guarantees an individual some respect in the society and a good life.
The American Dream has been carried on for generations, and it still lives on. This means that the American Dream will continue to thrive in the future. As much as there are assertions that people have failed to realize the American Dream, it can be argued that this is what has made America to become a great nation.
For the American Dream to stay alive, it is necessary that people should come up with renewed energy to revamp the chase for the dream. Though it may appear as if the American Dream has remained elusive for long, it would continued to attract many people around the world.
The immigrants come to the U.S. with expectations, but they need to reenergize themselves in the pursuit of the American Dream. In order for the American Dream to continue being alive, people should not be afraid of coming to the U.S.; instead, they should come and aspire to realize the dream. This is what has kept America going. The future of the American Dream looks bright as many people from all over the world keep fighting for a chance to advance their lives, and the US is seen as the land of opportunities.
There is no doubt that the American Dream will continue to thrive now and even in the future. What is amazing about the American Dream is the fact that it keeps changing to adapt to the theme of the moment. As many more people immigrate to the United States, they hope to achieve the ever elusive dream. Nonetheless, this is what has kept people to come through challenging times.
Portrayal of the American Dream in the 20th Century Theatre Essay
The American dream has become one of the most important values in the sense that it has played a significant role in providing American citizens with the freedom to pursue their goals, rights and dreams. This has been a dominant phenomenon for many years now. The idea of the American dream has been existing since as early as the 17th century. However, in the beginning of the 20th century period, it was generally formulated and widely accepted among people who arrived in the USA.
As a result, different playwrights developed dramas which were played in theatres and largely portrayed the quest for the American dream by individuals, as well as society. This paper examines how the search for the American dream was portrayed in two plays namely the American salesman by Arthur Miller and the melting pot by Israel Zangwill.
The melting pot
The American dream has received different and yet numerous definitions over the years. In spite of the various descriptions that have been given to the American Dream, it is also worth noting that this concept has been a major driving force aimed at attaining success in the widely acknowledge land of America.
The various facets of the American dream tend to touch on the aspirations of the youth and beauty, dreams of property ownership, upward mobility and equality among others. This has made the American dream to be real for many people and also elusive to other groups and social classes which regarded it as a mere guideline for people who wanted to become successful.
The concept of the search for the American dream was clearly displayed in the works by Israel Zangwill who in his play The Melting Pot indicated how different individuals in modern societies shift their focus on realizing their freedom (Kraus, 1999). This form of a freedom has been described in various ways ranging from social to financial.
However, different analysts criticized the use of the ‘melting pot’ in the play to show the pursuit of the American dream terming it as unrealistic in the sense that the term ‘melting’ creates a picture of individuals who completely abandon their cultures in search for the American dream (Cardullo, 2007). In addition, this has been viewed as an uncivilized way of seeking perfection in society, especially if culture is to be abandoned for the sake of the American dream.
Nonetheless, the play brings out the importance of freedom tacking into consideration the fact that during the previous era, it was evident that some identities and cultures were perceived as unwanted and inferior, certain groups, like black people, were under the yoke of slavery, while the Native Americans, South European immigrants and Irish Catholics were discriminated. As a matter of fact, there were adequate and quite justified reasons why the American dream was being considered as the best available option.
In order to back up the concept of the American dream and respond to criticisms from the analysts in the play the melting pot, the concept of cultural pluralism was developed in 1915 with an aim of incorporating the fact that even with American freedom diverse ethnic groups can still keep and enrich their different cultures in a harmonious and mutual manner (Alba et al., 2000).
However, different individuals fro the outside interpreted the American dream wrongly. The dream was interpreted and largely perceived as a ‘peaceful co-existence of different people and ethnic groups’.
While there was great discriminations among different ethnic groups in America with the minority ones suffering while the whites enjoying great dominance. The play was meant to motivate various groups towards freedom. During that time, the civil rights of Afro Americans, as well as many Native Americans, had been denied (Cardullo, 2007). These incidences were reflected in the events that took place shortly before, during and immediately after the Martin Luther’s time.
The long way that America had come required a clear understanding of issues and a straightforward method of addressing them. It is also notable that both, the white segregationists and black community clearly understood that the constitution was being broken and justice was not being delivered to all (Alba et al., 2000).
Addressing the issues of segregation and discrimination of the Native Americans by different leaders was a call for freedom that drove many followers to offer support since they sought to address the gap. Straightforwardness supports the leader’s values that tighten the bond between them and followers. During the great march on Washington in 1963, President Kennedy’s administration and pro-discrimination whites could not resist but grant the hard fought freedom by changing the existing laws (Alba et al., 2000).
The American salesman
As indicated earlier, the notion of upward mobility of the American dream saw many people in the 20th century develop a strong belief in improving their economic status and overall wellbeing. Developing a dream of upward mobility was strongly expressed in theatres in Arthur Miller’s American salesman shows whereby Willy Lowman together with his son hoped to make their lives better by pursuing the American dream (Fix, 2008).
As much as they belonged to the citizens of the low class, Lowman, as his name suggests, knew quite well that he could not arise above this level and as such saw it as necessary to prepare his sons for a better life indoctrinating his dreams in them (Fix, 2008). Perhaps, instilling some dream in them would be the most viable way of attaining the kind of success they were yearning for.
According to the play, the protagonist intended to help his sons live and fulfill their dreams. Scholars posit that the play brings out a self made American man whose need for upward economic mobility is based on pursuit of happiness and secularization of Puritan and Calvinist dreams (Cardullo, 2007). Achievement of an upward mobility therefore comes through unrestricted and persistent effort, ambition, hard work and desire to master one’s own destiny.
However, Arthur Miller seems to criticize the search for American dream in the play indicating that it led to loss of identity. Indeed, the American dream instilled in people some desires to pursue success regardless of the outcome of the entire pursuit. This perception and consideration that America would eventually provide the much need upward mobility has been brought out well in the play through heteronomy which happened to take humanity away.
The play also brings out the fact that the pursuit for freedom can lead to destruction, a consideration that is seen in the end of Willi Lowman’s life, who after directing his entire life and material possession to achieve his dreams, fails to achieve one of his extrinsically prescribed goals of upward mobility. This drives him to madness as he feels segregated. He eventually loses his mind.
The American Dream, ever since its inception, influenced people’s livelihoods due to its application to the national social-economic and political points of view. According to the definition of the term, it seeks to create a sense of economic improvement for various classes of people in the United States who are all seeking for the better economic achievements.
It is also worth mentioning that theaters during the 20th century played a key role in advancing the need for developing a stronger drive towards the achievement of better living standards, freedom from discrimination, segregation and economic hardships (Cardullo, 2007). Scholars agree with the reality depicted in the American salesman that the attainment of the American dream has been elusive to many Americans who still feel discriminated and undergoing economic hardships (Cardullo, 2007).
In any case, the current economic divide has unfortunately been obstructive regarding the overall objectives of the American dream. With the original objective to create a level playing ground for all, the current economic divide, as Madsen (2011) indicates, appears to act in a different direction. Notably, the high social class has increasingly assimilated the dominance of key economic units such as industries and private institutions.
Madsen adds that though this notion takes root silently, its implications are strongly felt. Even after completing university education and gaining enough experience in management, many individuals still belong to the same social class (middle class) for a long time without shifting upwards.
During economic recession, stagnations have been evident as salaries were cut down while people’s economic positions were greatly threatened.
Summing up everything mentioned above, it is imperative to reiterate that both plays attempt to portray the American dream as a powerful drive that saw individuals work hard to attain it. Nonetheless, the 20th century theater was also quite ironical in the matter of presenting the American dream, indirectly describing it as being elusive.
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Cardullo, R. J. (2007). Selling in american drama, 1946-49: Millers death of a salesman, O’Neill’s the iceman cometh, and William’s a streetcar named desire. The Explicator, 66(1), 29-33.
Fix, C. (2008). The lost father in death of a salesman. Michigan Quarterly Review, 47(3), 464-467.
Kraus, J. (1999). How the melting pot stirred America: The reception of Zangwill’s play and theatres role in the American assimilation experience. MELUS, 24(3), 3-19.
Madsen, D. (2011). Out of the melting pot, into the nationalist fires. American Indian Quarterly, 35(3), 353-371,476-477.