In this semester, I have learned the definition of the American Dream, cultures’ fight to achieve their financial and social goals and the characters’ experience in The Raising in the Sun. I have learned how to interpret different types of writing and understand the sociological patterns. The works studied have helped me achieve a better understanding of the history of the United States, the sociological movements and the perception of personal achievement by different classes. In the below essay I would like to discuss the pattern of American Dream and the processes throughout the society during the 20th Century society. I would like to prove the thesis: “The American Dream is not a single idea but a movement that goes on and fights the political forces for equality, opportunity, self-expression and freedom.
The Definition of the American Dream. The definition of The American Dream by James Adams has inspired me in finding the real structures, motivations and social patterns related to the American Dream. I now know that the American Dream is not about obtaining wealth and status; more importantly about making the most out of one’s life. The Revolution and Civil War focused on obtaining freedom. As time passed, personal freedom and equal opportunities were the main focus. The Civil Rights Movement managed to obtain equality for Black and Native Americans, and today the fight goes on with the movement for gay rights. Therefore, the American Dream is not a single idea but a movement throughout different historical ages that influences politics, persons and ideology in order to achieve higher level of equality, opportunity, self-expression and freedom for the individual and different classes. My view of the American Dream did not change, however, my perception on how individuals experience the struggle did.
Women and Their Struggle. Equality between sexes has been discussed by many authors we studied during the course. Both Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl and Betty Freidan’s The Feminine Mystique represent the feminine and feminist approach to the American Dream. When trying to achieve personal goals, women have a harder task than men. In the poem of Ginsberg, the facts are depicted in a way that they highlight the issues in the society in a way that the only solution the reader finds logical is to provide women equal opportunities. Today, when wages of women are still below men’s in the same position, there is still a lot to do to provide women chances to achieve their full potential. The Feminine Mystique presents the limitations of women in the society; while today the number of stay-at-home women is lower than in the 1960-s, studies show that the career opportunities of women are still limited compared to men’s.
The Raisin in the Sun and the American Dream. From this screenplay I have learned how individuals perceived their struggles to break out from the role the society assigned them. While Ruth settled for what was provided for her and did not want to break out, the struggle to achieve more and dream his way out of the situation was driving Walter almost insane. The contrast of the two ways of handling limited opportunities provided me a new insight into people’s ways of dealing with limitations.
From the review of studies during the semester, it is evident that the American Dream cannot have one generally agreed definition. It is perceived differently based on the individual’s personality traits, origins, social background and historical context they live in. The fight for the American Dream has become easier by the 21st Century, but there are still obstacles to be found that prevent individuals from achieving their full potential.