What We Strive To Achieve: “The American Dream”
The American Dream is something that every American aspires to achieve, as it is called a “dream.” The dream we so aspire to be is defined as: “of political and religious freedom, equal access to education, equal opportunity in the workplace, and ultimately, success and wealth” as stated in “The Blair Reader” (391). Also in “The Blair Reader,” are a few essays that pertain to, and discuss the American Dream. Of these essays are: “Bharti Mukherjee’s “American Dreamer,” Lars Eighner’s “On Dumpster Diving,” Thomas Jefferson’s “Declaration Of Independence,” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream.” Each of these stories incorporates the American Dream in one of the four ways mentioned above, which are political and religious freedom, equal access to education, equal opportunity in the workplace, and success and wealth. In Bharti Mukherjee’s “American Dreamer,” Mukherjee incorporates the American Dream when she strives for political and religious freedom by marrying a Canadian man after she came to study in America, where as her native land of Bengal is very strict on marrying within the religion and being restricted to certain limitations of freedom. In Lars Eighner’s “On Dumpster Diving,” Eighner incorporates the American Dream in his essay by discussing how he scavenges from people that are actually living the American Dream, in the sense of success and wealth, and how he just eats and lives off of what they throw out and disregard. Thomas Jefferson’s “The Declaration Of Independence,”
Jefferson states America’s need for political and religious freedom by discussing why America needs to dissolve all ties with Great Britain. In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream,” King stresses on two aspects of the dream, which are equal access to education, and equal opportunity in the workplace.
In Mukherjee’s “American Dreamer,” the author discusses briefly the differences between traditional Hindu families and American families. The American Dream in this essays is referred to as: “diverse cultures coming together as a constantly reforming, transmogrifying ‘we’” (406). The American Dream is important to this essay because Mukherjee speaks about how America is different from her homeland of Bengal, how at her homeland she was told what to do and had her future pretty much planned out for her. When she came to America, she had this freedom of experiencing different things, such as having a classroom with boys in it, and getting married to a Canadian, which is completely against her culture. Mukherjee took full advantage of the American Dream, since she took it upon herself to be free politically, religiously and in any sense you may have it. Mukherjee was happy with her new life, married to her Canadian husband, therefore she was satisfied, which is for the most part, what the American Dream is all about.
In Lars Eighner’s “On Dumpster Diving,” Eighner expresses his American Dream in that he is trying to teach us how to be successful at scavenging dumpsters, taking what you actually need, to be happy with your work, and to be successful and wealthy in that sense. “I’m always very pleased, when I can turn up exactly the thing I’ve most wanted to find but in spite the element of chance, scavenging more than most other pursuits tends to
yield returns in some proportion to the effort and intelligence brought to bear” (431). This quote reminds us that achieving the American Dream no matter what that dream may be, is worth the struggle. Success and wealth is the main focus of the essays, they both pertain differently to every person, but they still are part of the American Dream. Eighner’s success and wealth was to find what he needed in dumpsters and make more of what other people could make nothing of. To Eighner, success also meant that you can’t take everything that you might need one day in the future from one dumpster, but in contrary you must remind yourself that there will be more dumpsters later on, which is one of the important lessons of the dumpster world.
“The Declaration Of Independence” by Thomas Jefferson addresses Great Britain’s link with America, and calls for it being dissolved. Jefferson’s essay certainly has the backbone of the American Dream, that being of political freedom and certainly freedom of all aspects. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness” (449). In this statement, Jefferson reveals part of the American Dream, which is equality, no matter what type of equality it might be. “The pursuit of happiness” as states above, also pertains to success and wealth. Success and wealth do not have to be only of monetary meaning, but they can also be of personal reward and satisfaction more importantly, such as being content with your life.
In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream”, King speaks of his want for freedom and racial equality. For King, the American Dream is the idea of how “all me are
created equal,” and that all men should have equal political rights. He states that black and white men are equal, that black and white men should have equal access to
education, and equal opportunity in the workplace, basically equal everything such as stated in the Declaration Of Independence. Clearly, the American Dream is embedded in King’s personal dream this idea is supported by his statement: “It is a dream deeply rooted in the American Dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of it’s creed-we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal” (459). Once again in this quote King stresses the idea of “all me are created equal,” he states that hopefully one day America will be able to actually treat all me equally and not just write the idea of equality on paper.
In conclusion, the American Dream is one idea, but each and every person interprets it differently. For Lars Eighner, the dream is the idea of success in his pursuit of dumpster diving and getting what he needs out of the dumpsters. For Mukherjee, the idea of the American Dream is the basis of political and religious freedom, where as she can do what she wants to. King had a perspective of the American Dream that completely tied in with the Declaration Of Independence. He spoke of equality for all me, no matter what race you are. The Declaration of Independence also spoke of equality for men, but then again spoke of America’s needing to dissolve ties with Great Britain. The American Dream is overall the same ballpark for everyone, it just depends on which field you pick to play; left, right, in, or out, such as political and religious freedom, equal access to education, equal opportunity in the workplace, or success and wealth.