The American Dream
When I first heard the phrase, “Achieving the American Dream,” so many things flashed through my head, so many ideas that I had fantasized about for my own life, including: being married with children and having a wonderful house and no financial worries, achieving all of my career goals, and making a difference in American history. In my life, I have had so many dreams that I just pictured the idea of the American Dream to just sum them all up into one pretty little picture.
I mean, there had to be one big picture that would make everything else be happy and just finalized, right? When we looked at literacy to find the meaning of the American Dream, I was in for one big surprise. The first play we read, A Raisin in the Sun, changed a lot of my opinions about equal rights in the US. I realized that not everyone has the same American Dream and that not everyone has the same opportunity to achieve it. It was a depressing realization, to say the least. I found out that the American Dream is not all about money and desires.
The American Dream enfolds the ideas of maintaining our dignity, having a strong home and family, and even a strong concept of morality. The second play we read, Death of a Salesman, also changed my concept of the American Dream. Willy Loman had such a twisted view of what his dreams were and what would make him happy that he was willing to commit suicide in order to get money from his Life Insurance for his wife. His view of achieving the American Dream included being a brilliant salesman, having a fan-base, and having his sons make something of their lives by continuing his business.
The play instilled a fear in the back of my mind that will always cause me to ask the question, “Am I chasing after the right dream? Am I deluding myself into chasing a false ideal? ” Needless to say, I felt that the plays we read were warnings to the mindlessness and hypocrisy involved in the American Dream. The last two books we read provided warnings as well, but I felt that authors were also showing the spirit and hope left at the end in the American soul.
The Great Gatsby showed the shallow hearts of the money-seekers in America and the danger of getting in their way, but it also showed how we believe that we can still make the Dream come true, because “one fine day…” (Fitzgerald Chapter 12) He gives us a sense of hope and idealism that some think is gone. The generosity and the hospitality the Joads and people like the Joads had shown in The Grapes of Wrath gave us an ideal of kind people. The lesson of the novel was that we can do so much more when we work together.