The American Dream Literature & Language Essay Paper (Essay Sample)
Essay #2, Due Sunday Evening
Due No Due Date Points 100 Submitting a text entry box or a file upload (Turnitin enabled)
Here is another chance to select the topic of your choice for your last 750 word paper. What would you like to talk about regarding the American Dream now that we are nearly through the texts and the novels?
You might want to reconsider our opening notion from the Declaration of Independence, that we have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Is this trio what it takes to achieve the American dream? What evidences from our readings would you like to discuss regarding these concepts?
Is the American dream even about "happiness?" What is your evidence from our texts?
What is the role of family in seeking to attain the American Dream?
You might consider: we see that Wright’s family is unable to make ends meet in the world because of the system of segregation in the post Civil War south. Can Richard Wright make his dream to become a respected writer and intellectual happen in such an environment? We know that he does succeed in becoming an acclaimed American author. We know that he lived in the segregated south in a dreadful time. So how does he change the odds?
Maybe you want to relate Wright's situation to that of Alexandra, who is subject to gender discrimination.
The one book the dean asked me to make sure was covered in this course -- the others were my choice -- was The Great Gatsby, which you are reading for next week's discussion. Writing in a book review published in the National Review in June of this year, Kelly Scott Franklin claims, "Fitzgerald's book may speak to the American condition ... but it speaks louder to the human condition. Gatsby and the Buchanans and Wilsons reap death or existential emptiness not because they have been bad Americans or because of the failure of American ideology, but because they have been bad humans -- because to the last pages of the story they lived selfishly." Compare and contrast your ideas about Gatsby with Franklin's claim, above. Be sure to use quotes from the novel to speak to your points.
It could be said that every book we have read is really about "do overs." In America, if you are unsuccessful, start again fresh. If you are dissatisfied, go back to training and learn a new skill. If you hate the cities, move west. We see the Bergsons remaking themselves as they emigrate to the US.
Ragged Dick remakes himself over time after meeting Frank and his uncle. Richard Wright goes north to start again on a more level playing field. Chris Gardner recreates himself to be a stockbroker. Jay Gatsby stubbornly believes he can remake his past by making enough money to attract and win Daisy back again. The Jay Gatsby we meet is a ghost, a man who never was... Is a do over the American way? What do you see and what do you know?
You might want to look at the articles we have read and comment on the fact that our dreams may sometimes be unattainable. Who does get to have it all, really? Sandler will tell us that even if you marry well, get the job you want, and have the two kids, the result might be really disappointing. How would Wright, Alexandra, or Gatsby react to this truth?
In the same vein, if you "buy" or copy the "standard" American dream and are unhappy once attaining it, is it the fault of the mirage of the dream or is it the responsibility of the dreamer to pursue his or her desires, unfettered by the ideas of others? If you get the house, the job, the mate, the kids and find it doesn't suit you, is it your fault or America's fault? What should the disillusioned dreamer do at this point?
In our own lives and in the novels we have read, we see that there are a lot of ifs in this life. How we live depends largely on the accident of our births. We don't get to decide to be born, but once we are, our future depends a lot on genetics, on health, on our parents and who they are and what they do. Is this a defeatist look at the difficulties of rising in class and affluence, or is this an honest view? Explain. Are those who do defy the odds outliers, or is this the stuff of the traditional striving that America and its economy are known for? What would Wright, Cather's Alexandra, or Alger's Ragged Dick, who did defy the odds, say?
Perhaps you can compare Richard Wright’s childhood with that of the orphan, Ragged Dick. What is the role of race in the efforts of each boy to secure his future?
One notable difference between the world of the late 1800s and the first half of the 1900s was that higher education was seemingly not the absolute necessity we see today. Ragged Dick learns to be literate and do sums to rise, Alexandra taps into the local college talent but we don't see her go to school though she is a total success, Richard's education is spotty at best but he becomes a great American author. We don't yet know about Gatsby at all, in fact. Trust, he didn't really study at Oxford. Was there more opportunity in the old world when what one had to know was pretty basic stuff, versus today with its impersonal reliance on technology, educational degrees, connections, and presentation on resume? Are we essentially programming ourselves to be BA and MA super humans, while those who can't conform will be left behind?
What is the role of communication in the attainment of the American dream? We see that some of the characters we have met are good at it and others are not. We have read that immigrants who learn to speak the host language well have a tremendous edge over those that do not. Gatsby hides from his party goers and nobody really knows him. We know that Richard seems like a tough communicator (except on paper, where he is a master) but Ragged Dick is always open and cheerful to everyone. He is, in short, approachable.
You may want to draw in the PEW research articles, as well, for "spice" and relevance...
You may want to pursue an idea that you picked up from the discussion boards.
Of course, the above are simply suggestions. Now that you have been put through most of the emotional roller coaster of this class, what would you like to write about? As always, your work should include the texts you will deal with in the introduction, as well as your thesis statement, which will frame your argument. You must include direct references to the works you quote and you must document them using APA.
Be sure to submit your best collegiate writing. Your paper must have a college heading, be double spaced, and be well edited. This is due on Sunday.
The American Dream
The American Dream
The American Dream is like a strong force that has both destroyed and strengthened lives. Even though the Declaration of Independence suggests that all humans residing in the United States have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," enjoying these virtues requires much more (Jefferson, 1952). Achieving the American Dream involves dedication and equality, equal access to opportunities, and democracy. It consists of freedom interlinked with success, prosperity, and opportunity. Besides, it portrays a collective commitment to establishing a fuller, richer, and better life for every individual in society. The goal is ensuring that everyone lives a good life with minimal difficulties associated with a lack of essential commodities. For that reason, the American Dream cannot be said to be about happiness. It is the act of achieving more than just mere happiness. Therefore, it comprises working with dedication to create happiness and success for every individual. More specifically, it aims to make happiness sustainable by doing away with obstructions to happiness in the community.
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