The American Dream [Revisited] HEath Gerrald

How do we define the American Dream?

  • Original Thesis: "The term reflects the belief that Americans hold more individual freedoms than citizens in other countries; they ultimately have the power to choose whatever career path they wish to follow and through hard work and perseverance can mold the outcome of their own futures."
  • If this is the case then it shouldn't be called American - many other countries offer these same opportunities.
  • New thesis: The existence of the American Dream depends purely on how it is defined, a realistic definition being that every person is given a chance, not equal, but at the very least an opportunity to pursue their individual hopes and dreams.
  • However this is basically the case for every non-communist first world country.
Google Dictionary
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee; Citizen by Claudia Rankine

Her voice was heavy with sarcasm: "We've agreed that they're backward, that they're illiterate, that they're dirty and comical and shiftless and no good, they're infants and they're stupid, some of them, but we haven't agreed on one thing and we never will. You deny that they're human."

(Lee 251)

The new therapist specializes in trauma counseling. You have only ever spoken on the phone. Her house has a side gate that leads to a back entrance she uses for patients. You walk down a path bordered on both sides with deer grass and rosemary to the gate, which turns out to be locked.

At the front door the bell is a small round disc that you press firmly. When the door finally opens, the woman standing there yells, at the top of her lungs, Get away from my house! What are you doing in my yard?

It's as if a wounded Doberman pinscher or a German shepherd has gained the power of speech. And though you back up a few steps, you manage to tell her you have an appointment. You have an appointment? she spits back. Then she pauses. Everything pauses. Oh, she says, followed by, oh, yes, that's right. I am sorry.

I am so sorry, so, so sorry.

(Rankine 18)

People from Business Insider's list of 15 billionaires who "started out dirt poor."

Larry Ellison, Oprah Winfrey, Shahid Khan, and Howard Schultz (Giang)

"One issue that continually rises to the top is access to opportunity. There are 5.5 million youth in the U.S. who are currently not in school or working. This is especially true in metro areas; in the nation’s largest metro areas, one in five youth are disconnected." - Forbes Magazine (Flannery)

So is the American Dream Still Alive? And was it actually ever?

"Social responsibility, sir" I said. "You weren't being smart, were you boy?" he said, not unkindly. "No, sir!" "You sure that about 'equality' was a mistake?" "Oh, yes, sir," I said. "I was swallowing blood."

"Well, you had better speak more slowly so we can understand. We mean to do right by you, but you've got to know your place at all times."

(Ellison 31)

The first publishing of the "American Dream" as an idea was in 1931 (Amadeo) and Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man was first published in 1947.

The Idea That everyone has an equal opportunity is not and never was a realistic truth

Works Cited

Amadeo, Kimberly. "5 Ways Our Founding Fathers Protect The American Dream." The Balance. N.p., 20 Feb. 2017. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible man. New York: Vintage International, 1952. Print.

Flannery, Nathaniel Parish. "Is The American Dream Still Attainable?" Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 27 June 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Giang, Vivian. "15 Billionaires Who Were Once Dirt Poor." Business Insider. Business Insider, 01 Jan. 2014. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Google Dictionary

Lee, Harper. Go set a watchman. London: Arrow , 2016. Print.

Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: an American lyric. , UK: Penguin , 2015. Print.


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