The “American Dream”
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The American Dream is a widespread idea. Depending on whose dream it is, it can also have many different definitions. The United States was founded on the idea of individual worth, and the ability of people being able to make their own choices to affect their own destiny. Being in a country which allows one to do these things is a privilege in and of itself. Culture and one’s upbringing will affect their idea of the “American Dream”. Most everyone is bound to have a different idea because of their unique personality.
Although all people can never have the exact same idea for the American Dream, there would be some definite similarities between all opinions. Living in a country that allows everyone to become anything they want to be, if they are willing to work to achieve it, is a very common dream. Being happy, healthy, and wealthy is another widely known dream. In older movies a very typical sort of “American Dream” is shown. A big house, a loving spouse, two children, a dog, good jobs, plenty of money, a happy family, and of course the white picket fence. For the characters portrayed, these are the things that are important to them.
In Of Mice and Men, George and Lenny have a big plan of how their dream will look like. “‘Well,’ said George, ‘we’ll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens. And when it rains in the winter, we’ll just say the hell with goin’ to work, and we’ll build up a fire in the stove and set around it an’ listen to the rain comin’ down on the roof…'” (14-15). “We could live offa the fatta the lan’.” (57). These two men only needed a farm, and to be able to make a decent life for themselves to achieve their American Dream. No big details, not a lot of money, just to be happy and self-sufficient. However, not everyone’s dream is that simple.
Another book that talks about achieving the “American Dream” is Farewell to Manzanar. In this book, the author’s family is imprisoned into internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor because they are of Japanese descent. They are forced out of their home, their “American Dream” was almost complete, but then it was ripped away. Jeanne never thought she could reach that dream again. Her “Dream” was a safe home, plenty of family, and to have some sort of sheltered perception of the cruelty of the real world. When she arrives at Manzanar she is exposed to the real world, and this shatters her dream. Later in life, however, she begins to understand the true values in her life.
In literature we see that a lot of the time a child’s view of the “American Dream” is much different than an adult’s. As one grows older, happiness, health, and family become more important. What good would the American Dream be without these three factors? To believe in the saying ‘money cannot buy happiness’, means one depends on these three things to make them happy. Children, like Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird think more along the lines that money can fix problems. Although money can fix many things, even make one feel better, many people feel it is not an essential part of the “American Dream.”
By putting people in charge of their own lives, they have the choice to form their own “American Dream”. No matter what they decide that dream is, it will revolve around their beliefs and values. This way everyone can choose how to make him or herself happiest and work towards fulfilling their dream.