What is your American Dream: Personal Perspectives on Aspirations and Success

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Updated: Sep 01, 2023
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Interpreting the American Dream: A Mosaic of Perspectives

The concept of the American Dream has multiple interpretations, unique to each individual. John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun, Walt Whitman’s “America,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” collectively illustrate the objective of the American Dream. My definition of the topic is evident through these works, the idea that everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve their dream but those who work persistently towards it have a better chance of reaching it.

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Walt Whitman’s Vision of America

“America,” a poem written by Walt Whitman, sets the foundation of the ideal American Dream. Within the verses of the poem, Whitman depicts America as the “Centre of equal daughters, equal sons, / All, all alike endear, grown, ungrown, young or old, /Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich, / Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love” (Whitman 1-4). He believes that it is the home of a diverse group of people and that everyone is welcome, no matter their status. The contrasting qualities each individual possesses are what make America the “melting pot” of the world. Whitman’s poem corresponds to what I think the dream should initially be based on. An individual with a lower status than another should not be at a disadvantage, to begin with.

Chasing Dreams Amidst Challenges: Hansberry’s Take

On the other hand, in Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun, the Younger family faces an unfair disadvantage because of their skin color. Walter, both the antagonist and protagonist within the play, believes that money can solve all of the family’s complications. He dreams of a successful liquor business that will result in making the family happier. In a conversation between Mama and Ruth discussing his plan, Ruth says to Mama, “Walter Lee say colored people ain’t never going to start getting ahead till they start gambling on some different kinds of things in the world —investments and things” (Hansberry 45). African Americans strived and still continue to prove that they were just as able as whites. Ruth wants Walter to have a chance at his dream, the chance everyone should have. Towards the end of the play, the Younger family purchased a home in an all-white neighborhood, Clybourne Park. In response to Karl Lindner’s attempt to pay them to rethink their decision, Mama says, “We have decided to move into our house because my father—my father—he earned it for us brick by brick” (147). 

Springsteen’s Anthem of Pursuit

Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Born to Run,” demonstrates the need to get up and chase after that dream. He writes, “Whoah baby, this town rips the bones from your back, it’s a death trap / It’s a suicide rap, we gotta get out while we’re young / ‘Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run” (Springsteen 5-8). One should not sit around and watch their dream pass by; instead, they should have the urge to get up and explore, no matter where it may take them. ANALYSIS Springsteen also sings, “We’re gonna get to that place where we really want to go, and we’ll walk in the sun. But till then tramps like us, baby we were born to run” (26-28). This suggests that one day they will make it to where they intend to, but until then, they will continue to venture on.

Steinbeck’s Glimpse of Unfulfilled Aspirations

Finally, Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck, pictures what it would be like to work towards one’s dream but ultimately fail. George and Lennie fantasize about a location that they could call their own, a farm.

“We’d just live there. We’d belong there.

There wouldn’t be any more runnin’ round the county and gettin’ fed by a Jap cook. No, sir, we’d have our own place where we belonged and not sleep in no bunkhouse” (57). ANALYSIS When chatting to George and Lennie regarding their dream of a farm, Crooks says, “Nobody never gets to heaven, and Nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head. They’re all the time talkin’ about it, but it’s just in their head” (74). He consistently watches people’s dreams crumble right in front of their eyes. If one doesn’t strive to achieve that dream, one may never even come close to it.

Equality and Persistence in Pursuit of Dreams

My interpretation of the American Dream is that everyone starts out as equals, but those who strive to make something of it succeed over time.

Works Cited

  1. Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Signet/NAL, 1988
  2. Johnston, Ann. Personal Interview. 6 February 2019.
  3. Springsteen, Bruce. “Born to Run.” Columbia, 1975.
  4. Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. Penguin Books, 1995.
  5. Whitman, Walt. “America.” 1888.
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What is Your American Dream: Personal Perspectives on Aspirations and Success. (2023, Jun 16). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/what-is-your-american-dream-personal-perspectives-on-aspirations-and-success/