The Idea that Pervades Society The American dream is the longing of success that means a happy family and equal opportunity to go from rags to riches, through hard work. This idea is scene in a lot of places. On the picture by Margaret White, the poster proclaims: World’s Highest Standard of Living-There is no way like the American Way”. Or the headline of the newspaper story is “The American Dream, the subtitle is Doing Well by Doing Good. ” Examples of the American dream are almost invisible when looking at average Americans.
In the photograph, there are hungry people carrying buckets. None of them are white and none of them look remotely happy in front of the camera. This shows how not everyone can live the American Dream especially if they are barely getting by. Immigrants also failed to reach the American dream for reasons like not being able to speak English and lack of resources. Having a happy family is not easy either. There is lots of conflict at home over the dinner table and no time for American adults to have fun once they have kids. It is unrealistic to expect fun when there is housework, bills to pay, and more.
Although it sounds good, it is a negative force in our society because it is just too good to be true. The American dream means equal opportunity to go from rags to riches. Sometimes, aggression may be necessary to get this “equal opportunity” due to circumstance. “At the time, most southern blacks could not share a water fountain, a beach, a bus seat, a school room, or a voting booth with southern whites. ” (Moser, and Watters) This barrier to civil rights meant that many were considered inferior and could not succeed because they were separate from the average American.
This shows that the American dream is unrealistic for blacks. Langston Hughes states how America should be a land “where Liberty is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe. ”(Hughes) However, he later asserts that “America never was America to me, And I swear this oath-America will be! ” (Hughes) This reiterates how this equal opportunity will be there in the future. Thus, showing how the American dream is currently unrealistic for them. Immigrants who were not American tried to go from rags to riches as well.
“Education was free. That subject my father had written about repeatedly, as comprising his chief hope for us children, the essence of American opportunity, the treasure that no thief could touch, not even misfortune or poverty. ” (Antin) This shows his belief in the equal opportunity in America. In the end, many of this people did not fully realize the dream and may have ended up in a worse financial situation than before. The Antin’s wound up losing everything after the storm on Crescent Beach. They could not achieve the success that the American dream entitled.
Her father was “master of no art, of no trade; that even his precious learning was no avail, because he had only the most antiquated methods of communicating it. ” (Antin) They did not expect this would matter but being immigrants put them at a disadvantage. It is clearly not achievable for the poorer Americans and immigrants who probably worked very hard but live in an oppressive society that values background over hard work. You need to be a white American gentleman to succeed like Tom who lives in East Egg. The American dream means a happy family with a nice house and all the amenities of civilization.
However, how can a family be happy when there is so much work to be done at home? “A good home life for a family of four took about 60 hours of nurturing work per week in 1982. That work may have been more physically arduous in the past, but never more complex than now. ” (Hayden) Today, it’s nowhere near that amount but it is still quite a load. On top of that, people are picky meaning that “part of homemaking involved seeing that each family member’s myriad personal needs are fully met. For example, “Home cooking requires meals prepared to suit the personal likes and dislikes of family members.(Hayden) How can the American dream be achieved when you worry so much about homemaking? The idea of a happy family ceases to exist because of this. Even rich people with all the amenities like the laundry machine, dishwashers, refrigerators, and stoves still have a lot to worry about. Rich people still need to worry though about their kid’s education and choose to private school their kids. However, “this puts more pressure on families, cutting them off from the diversity and connectedness of the proverbial village.
Poorer families without the same resources to send their children to school worry even more about this. There are exorbitant rates for the top state universities and federal aid is hard to come by. The journal of health and Social behavior published her findings that “adults with children experience depression and unhappiness in greater numbers. Our expectations that children guarantee a life filled with happiness, joy, excitement, contentment, satisfaction, and pride are an additional source of stress for all parents.
This shows that happiness is hard to achieve and many are dissatisfied because of the times when they have housework to do. A lot of the times, Mother’s in their sphere do not have many people to talk to except for other women. “Or it may come from husbands and children who finally notice when their wives and mothers break down. ” (Hayden) For example, Daisy in the Great Gatsby had a hard time dealing with Tom, who had a bad temper. “You did it, Tom, she said accusingly. I know you didn’t mean to but you did do it.
That’s what I get for marrying a brute of a man, a great big hulking physical specimen. ” (Fitzgerald 16) During this incident, Tom intentionally broke Daisy’s finger for no reason. Daisy was very upset about having to put up with this. This shows how not everyone is happy all the time. Later on at the end, Daisy was so upset about Tom’s mistress and almost left Tom for Gatsby. She states, “Why, -how could I love him-possibly? ” (Fitzgerald 139) This is in response to Gatsby telling her to state that she never loved him. In this case, “him” refers to Tom, who now desperately wants her back.
Even if a family is wealthy or poor, there is so much going on at home that people are likely to be unhappy. Although it sounds good, there are lots of problems in life preventing the American Dream from happening. Every day, there is housework, kids to take care of, and bills to pay. This makes home life frenetic all the time. Unless you can afford a housekeeper and somehow have a perfectly content family, you should not wish for the American Dream. The American dream is the longing of success that means a happy family and equal opportunity to go from rags to riches through hard work.
A lot of people decided to immigrate here in pursuit of this dream. Many of them were disappointed when it ended in failure although they worked hard. The American dream was simply out of their reach like with Mary Antin’s father. Therefore, the American Dream has a negative impact on our society because of its false promises that cannot be achieved by the overwhelming majority. So until you can guarantee equal opportunity, limited house work, and no home conflict the American dream will cease to exist.