The American Dream: The Meaning Of The American Dream

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As American culture changes over the decades, so does the meaning of the American Dream. The American Dream, a term first coined in 1931 by freelance writer James Adams Truslow, was the theory that each person, regardless of their background, can work hard and get wealthy. It was a very idealistic way of thinking, but unrealistic for many due to inequality and individual aspirations. The literary works of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Luis Valdez’s “In Lak 'ech:You are my Other Me” and “Zoot Suit”, Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s speech “What has happened to the American Dream?” depicts how individuals from different decades in American history define the American Dream. As America evolves throughout the twentieth century, so does what people view as important, which adds on to what the American Dream means. The culture of the 1920s encouraged spending and materialism so people sought money, power, and expensive items to make them happy. In the Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby, who is the epitome of the 1920s American Dream, saw that becoming rich and notable was the only way to get his Dream which was Daisy: “She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me.”(Fitzgerald, ch 7) Furthermore, despite the fact that Tom was born with a silver spoon, he still felt he didn’t have the American Dream because Gatsby was more popular than him: “I know I’m not very popular. I don’t have big parties. I suppose you’ve got to
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