Foskuhl 1 Baxter J. Foskuhl Mrs. Murdock AP Language & Composition November 11, 2012 Our Dream The American Dream is a principle. Our American Dream is not written down, not created by our founding fathers. The American Dream is a set of beliefs that dictate much more societal change than the Government and even the Constitution. Since it is not written down or legalized, it can change, grow, and flourish however the people of this country decide it to. The American Dream does not prejudice by color or origin. It is not constrained by demographics nor can it be classified as a status.
The dream cannot be amended, voted for, or killed. The word shalom comes from the language of Hebrew, meaning peace, community, home, love. Similarly, the American Dream is a belief that has multiple connotations: work, equal, freedom, wealth, opportunity. These meanings are constantly being redefined. Over time, however; the American Dream has come to being something different for every generation. The tremendous social changes that have happened within the last forty years have significantly changed the definition of the American Dream. For example, there were roughly 150 million people living in the United States.
Since then, multiple recessions, social movements, technological leaps, all along with the current population of roughly 308 million has significantly altered the definition of the American Dream. The classic view of the Caucasian family of two kids, two cars, a white picket fence and a Labrador retriever is far from todays American Dream, and society as a whole. The American Dream does not just consist of white Foskuhl 2 families anymore. It does not fulfill to the assumption that men are allowed to abuse their wives, and keep them at home where they are “supposed” to be.
Also, the American Dream most certainly does not promise the newest Ford every year. The Dream is the couple who recently adopted an adorable Asian baby. The Dream is the recently immigrated Hispanic family who can breathe fresh air, drink clear water, and live safely. Even more, the American Dream is a principle of hope, from the poor city kid who strives to be a Doctor, to the Hawaiian-born scholar destined to become the leader of the free world. The idea of the American Dream has influenced arts, film, politics, literature, etc. , etc. For example, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses Jay Gatsby to portray the American Dream in the 1920’s.
In the novel, Meyer Wolfshiem talks about how he raised Gatsby up from nothing, a key component of the American Dream. Wolfshiem shows this when he says “’I raised him up out of nothing, right out of the gutters…” (Fitzgerald 171). The process of going from rags to riches is one of the core concepts of the American Dream. Fitzgerald also displays the American Dream as money, wealth, the “better” life. Fitzgerald shows Gatsby as a man wealth when Nick says “The one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard- it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy…” (Fitzgerald 5).
The kind of American Dream that Fitzgerald portrays in the 1920’s is one of wealth as achievement and coming up from practically nothing to achieve so. Jay Gatsby was a simple Minnesotan boy with not too much given to him, who, as Fitzgerald would have it, climbed his path and attained a status of wealth. This was the symbol of achievement in the 1920’s. Jay Gatsby’s attainment of wealth represents Fitzgerald’s portrayal of the American Dream in the 1920’s. Foskuhl 3 The portrayal of the American Dream as presented in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s the Great Gatsby does not hold true in today’s society.
I believe that the significant difference is while the 1920’s American Dream is one of attaining the quantity of money; the 21st century American Dream values the quality of life, and the equal pursuit of happiness. Currently, I think the American Dream is not about having millions of dollars or a white picket fence with Lassie in the front. A more modern American Dream is one about having the choice to who you love, the opportunity for education regardless of your intellectual ability or income level, and financial security. Today’s American Dream is about peace, safety, equality, opportunity, and not trying to become the 1%.