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Dying Hopes The American Dream English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1342 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Prosperity and freedom are the values in which America was founded on. America symbolizes hopes and dreams in which people claim that anyone in America can achieve with hard work. The foundation of America is based on equality and the American Dream. The American Dream is the idea that people can achieve their goals through hard work and live happy lives. This is also expanded to being able to be treated with equality no matter what your ethnicity is. “The idea of an American Dream is older than the United States, dating back to the 1600’s when people began to come up with all sorts of hopes and aspirations for the new and largely unexplored continent.” During the 1920’s many immigrants came to America aspiring to achieve this dream. They wanted a place to call their own, and successful jobs where they would have enough money to feed their families. This is much like George and Lennie’s dream of owning the little ranch with the rabbits. However, the reality of the American Dream was not what it was all thought out to be. People coming America during the 1920’s where ignorant and taken advantage of; much like the ranch hands in Of Mice and Men. People were also discriminated against even though America was founded on the ideas of equality. Women and African Americans were seen as inferior; much like Curly’s wife and Crooks. During this time in history, the glorified ideas of the American Dream were not true. The reality of the American Dream was largely dependent on social standing and economic background.

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American culture is made of a great diversity of people. Under the Constitution it says that all men our created equal, but that is simply not the case with the way discrimination was in the 1920’s. During this time there was a great migration of of non-protestant Europeans to America; Jews and Catholics. Many hate groups committed crimes against these people, like the Klu Klux Klan. Not only was religion discriminated against, but race was as well. Hispanics and blacks did not have the same rights as white males. They were treated as inferior for being different. Jim Crow laws in the South made it legal to segregate black people from whites. Not only were minority races separated and not treated with equality, but were also given hurtful racial names. Women were another minority group during this time. They were not given the same rights as men. Women suffragists fought for their rights during this time period. John Steinbeck portrays discrimination in the 1920’s in Of Mice and Men. In this novel all of the ranch hands live in poor conditions; they live in rundown bunk houses. However, the conditions Crooks lives in are far more worse. He lives in the barn around the horse manure. The only activities Crooks is allowed to be involved in is working and playing horse shoes. It is even unheard of for him to enter the white rancher’s bunk house. “Crooks’ response to segregation is intended to show the results of discrimination. Crooks becomes a separatist, if he is not allowed in the bunkhouse, then the men are not allowed in his room.” -Stella Mcintyre. Also, this novel shows how women were seen in the 1920’s. Curly’s wife is not even given a name in this book. She is only seen as a sex symbol and jail bait. The men on the ranch refer to her as a “tart”. The character she is given is not even true to her personality, she really aspires to make something of herself and be an actress. However, she is suck there because she married Curly and it is seen as if he owns her. This shows how little of their lives women has control of in the 1920’s. This also show that the American Dream’s aspect of equality was not as true as it seemed.

In Of Mice and Men, the ranch is a microcosm for the capitalist society of the 1920’s. Immigrants in the 1920’s expected to come to America and own their own land and make a good living. However, the reality of this was that the people they worked for only used them for their own gain. The employers paid their workers as little as possible so their business could prosper while the workers suffered. The workers never got anywhere in capitalist businesses because they were seen as part of the cycle of keeping America’s economy running. The wealthy ranch owners in Of Mice and Men are seen as the Capitalist employers who use their workers purely for their own gain. The ranch workers are seen as the people trying to support themselves unsuccessfully. When they became to weak to work, they ranchers were simply canned. This represents the ideas of Social Darwinism in the 1920’s, only the fittest members of society will survive. The American Dream says with hard work people will prosper, but during the 1920’s hard work did not gain success. It got people stuck in dead end jobs where they could be easily replaced when they worked to death.

Machine Bosses took advantage of peoples’ stupidity in the 1920’s. They helped immigrants get a place to work and a place to stay. This all was seemly good, however, they asked in return for political support for their candidates who did not support hard working people. These new immigrants did not care though, as long as they had a job and money. In the end, immigrants ended up losing everything because the jobs they were given were not secure and the people they voted for did not support them. This is parallel to how the ranch workers were manipulated on the ranch. The ranch hands were caught up in the racial drama with Crooks to see the real problem which was the wealthy owners. With this preoccupation, they could not see that they were going nowhere staying at the ranch working because the only purpose they served for the ranch owners was to make them money. This shows how during the 1920’s in America, the jobs were not for the hard working people to gain any thing. It was for big business to prosper. This conflicts with the ideas of the American Dream.

In Today’s society, the American Dream has become obscured. It means many things to many different people. However, it is still based on social class. It is believed, in America, that anybody can achieve anything. That any person can go from “rags to riches”. People today are not satisfied with having property to call their own and getting by successfully. Most people want millions of dollars and all the newest things. The American Dream today is very materialistic. For some people who are impoverished, the American Dream is still the same for them, they want to easily have basic necessities available. The American Dream today is much more attainable today than the 1920’s, however. Since America’s government has created laws to prevent the unfair advantages of capitalism, people are able to achieve things through hard work. There are benefit programs for the lower-class so they do not have to live like the poor people of the 1920’s. Also, it is true today that people can go from “rags to riches” many of America’s most famous and richest citizens today were once poor. But, today the American Dream is about living comfortably, it is based on the greed that has come over America through the years.

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During the 1920’s, immigrants who believed in the American Dream and came to the United States got a raw deal. “The dream of most American’s at this time period surrounding the book Of Mice and Men was only a large cesspool of dying hopes.” They were treated with hate and tricked by their employers. These people never made any real money because they were stuck in dead end jobs. The reality of the American Dream is that it is based on race and social class. Today, much has changed about the American Dream but it is not free of corruption; now it is based on greed and consumerism. The American Dream is never what it appears to be.


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