Deconstructing the myth of the American Dream - Book Report/Review Example

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The much talked about American Dream has been a powerful and impressionable myth in American culture and one cannot quite grasp the ethos of American culture without coming to terms with it. However, it is interesting to note that the phrase resists any singular definition…
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Deconstructing the myth of the American Dream
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Download file to see previous pages For immigrants, it also tends to represent the golden opportunity to attain better economic prosperity than was possible in countries of their origin. Nineteenth century witnessed the making of history, when Lincoln, born in a log cabin died as President of White House. "It was manifestly untrue that any child could grow up to become president of the United States, but the belief that the United States was a land of opportunity where the possibilities of individual achievement were limited only by talent, will, and effort was reinforced by stories, true and fictional, of waifs who morphed into moguls." (Cullen, Jim.) Despite the pervading appeal and the glory of the American Dream, one is led to believe that it is only a Utopian enterprise. A close reading of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Silko's Ceremony will prove to be a genuine eye opener. Critics often assert that The Great Gatsby is a uniquely American novel that depicts American characters and themes. Indeed, Gatsby is the archetypal American character; he is self-made. As Nick observes, Gatsby gives new meaning to the phrase "the self-made man": "The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself". He believes in the American dream "in the green light, the orgiastic future." He believes that, in America, one can become anything. Like a young Benjamin Franklin, he maps out his resolves for future success and never wavers from his teenage conception of self. A seventeen-year-old James Gatz invents Jay Gatsby, and it is to this vision that he remains true. Ultimately, it is this vision that betrays him. Gatsby's primary ideological shortcoming is that he makes Daisy Buchanan the sole focus of his belief in the orgiastic future. "As the novel unfolds, Gatsby seems to realize that-as he did with his own persona-he has created an ideal for Daisy to live up to. He remains firmly committed to her, even after her careless driving has caused Myrtle Wilson's death. Only his own needless death at the hands of the distraught Mr. Wilson (led by Tom Buchanan to believe that Gatsby has killed Myrtle) ends Gatsby's obsession with Daisy." (Bick, S., The Great Gatsby: The American Dream.)
In Ceremony Silko creates a protagonist who has been psychologically wounded by service in the Army during World War II and who encounters racism and brutality when he attempts to return to reservation life afterward. Eventually, Tayo, the "half-breed" fully overcomes his impulses toward violence by undergoing the traditional healing ceremonies of the past. The novel continually pits the world of the white race against Indian culture, a contrast that is highlighted by Tayo's experience as a soldier. Racism is also seen as a major contributor to the self-destructive behavior of other Indian veterans. Tayo's friends retreat into alcoholism and repetitive recitations of their sexual exploits with white women; eventually they can feel good about themselves only when they commit violent acts of domination, reenacting the atrocities of war. Through ceremony and story, Tayo comes to accept not only the power of traditional Indian ways but also the truth of ancient beliefs. Embarking on a journey to find his uncle's stolen cattle, Tayo gradually senses his oneness with the earth and acknowledges that the earth gives of itself to humans out of love. Through this realization, he is able to overcome his ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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