What does the American Dream mean? Is it this perfect life? Who is able to obtain this dream? The American Dream was debauched back in the 1920’s and it really made this concept of the American dream very elusive and a bit illogical. It was viewed as too perfect in a sense. In The Great Gatsby we can see how there is a major flaw in this once grand idea of the perfect or closest thing to a perfect life. Once the idolization of your own way of life comes into floriation you end up wanting more and that when the idolization of your feelings takes place.
Fitzgerald shows us that the path to achieving wealth and fame comes with a price and that life never seems to be true instead a performance, basically propping up your life to be something it’s not. One of Americans strong suites is the fact that we have the world’s largest melting pot and like most minorities living in the United States, African Americans have created their own version of the American Dream.
African Americans feel as if they are at a disadvantage at time in their pursuit of the American Dream, like many minorities in the States, because the odds are stacked against them and they feel it takes longer for them to obtain the dream. In the Song of Solomon, we can see how there’s another flaw to the American dream because isn’t all life supposed to be equal? Isn’t that one of the main principles this country was founded on? Africans were enslaved here in the United States and as history shows us they had to combat against the Americans in order to retain their selfrespect and morality as a human being.
For African Americans the American Dream may be just a call for equal rights or improve literacy and other times it seems like some feel they reach their dream with their strong connection to their past and upbringing as a race in this country. Within the contradictory lives of Alexandra Bergson and Carl Linstrum, Cather analyzes the urban rural struggle. Alexandra’s father was of the belief that land owned in the family should be kept to high value. Had the Old-World belief that land, in itself, is desirable” (Cather, 21), her fathers dying wish was for them as a family to keep the land they owned. Alexandra is set in charge by her father to keep everyone on the land for his fear that his sons will flee as soon as they get the opportunity. This was his view of the American Dream. In The Great Gatsby we really only come across one true and impartial character and that would have to be Nick. We find that Nick was the only one that wasn’t tainted or corrupted on his pursuit of the American Dream.
This was done strategically by Fitzgerald in order for the reader to hear from a noble character the shed some light on the fact that The American Dream being pursued in the story and Gatsby’s life dream as well is majorly flawed and the public perception couldn’t be more wrong. Nick is able to clarify and refine Gatsby’s life by not giving the reader any sense of excessive nostalgia. For example, if Gatsby were to say something repugnant or self-loathing, Nick was able to filter through it and portray something in commendable way. Throughout the novel Nick expresses the flaws within Gatsby’s perception of the American Dream.
In search for the American Dream one must ask themselves what is there “Why” or motivation for achieving success. Fitzgerald shows us that Gatsby has the ability to change anything in his life when he so pleases due to his large fortune. This proposition can lead the reader to believe that psychologically Gatsby isn’t ready for reality to sink in. This understanding of Gatsby’s mental behavior paves way for his later demise. This obsession for materialism can be seen when Nick asks one of the women if she had accepted a gift, “Sure I did. I was going to wear it tonight, but it was too big in the bust and had to be altered.
It was gas blue with lavender beads. Two hundred and sixty-five dollars. ” Fitzgerald 36. This is a merely a representation of the materialistic obsession taking place within the characters that surround Gatsby in the novel. “So he invented the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end. ” Fitzgerald 29. Fitzgerald creates a Jay Gatsby that seems to have it all, fame and fortune, but come to realize that he is missing the most important part of success and true happiness which is, love.
This one complex yet simple concept of love leads to his demise and later death. For Jay Gatsby his reason to achieve this dream was because he wanted nothing more than to win Daisy Buchanan’s heart. Gatsby felt that if he were to achieve these goals that he would eventually find peace and happiness that he seemed to so desperately want and he was trying to satisfy those feelings with Daisy. “His heart beat faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own” pg. 107. Daisy has been propped up to be Gatsby’s beacon of hope for this life he wishes to obtain.
Nick not only points out the contamination of the American Dream but the flaws within Gatsby’s pursuit and his idolization of this perfect image he has created of Daisy. The common perception of the American Dream is, if one works hard and does not necessarily need to come from a stable background or finical support system, anyone can make it in this country. Fitzgerald mentions clocks and time throughout the novel frequently and it’s the evidence provided to us that with this dream of success Gatsby is trying to reach he has a fixation for controlling time and the idea of going back in time.
Nick goes on to tell the reader, “Whereupon he turned and caught it with trembling fingers. ” Pg. 84. This shows that even though Nick doesn’t believe in this augmented reality, he is still showing us how Gatsby has distorted his own reality because of his pursuit of the American Dream, which puts him in a mindset that there really isn’t anything out his reach and it just plays to the fact of instant gratification for this time period. One illusion that plays into the American Dream and has given some a sense of entitlement has led to the false understanding that everything has a price and can be bought.
Gatsby learns that hard way that one thing he can’t buy is love. As the novel goes on it becomes increasingly more apparent that Fitzgerald’s main goal is to debunk the American Dream but by doing so he leaves a somewhat open-ended question the reader needs to answer for themselves, which is: with such high standards and in most situations impossible goals to reach is it really worth chase? Gatsby is in a mental reversal state where he is living in the present but his reality and perception are stuck in the past where he is trying to reconstruct and fit his liking.
On his pursuit to fulfill his dream we began to notice just how desperate he is to fill in his void of love for his life. It’s the current understanding of most that when you finally reach your materialistic goal you can finally be able to fulfill and obtain happiness and love but the problem Fitzgerald is pointing out is that when you find someone you and you start viewing them in the same light as materialistic objects that when your distortion of reality comes into play.
In the Song of Solomon, author Toni Morrison introduces us to the main character, Milkman. Milkman was uninterested in school or any type of work even though he was provided with opportunities to advance his education and he was already fairly literate. Milkman is enslaved, by humiliating acts that he is forced to do and wants nothing to do with it, “When he came into the little room she unbuttoned her blouse and smiled.
He was too young to be dazzled by her nipples, but he was old enough to be bored by the flat taste of mother’s milk, so he came reluctantly, as to a chore, and lay as he had at least once each day in his life in his mother’s arms, and tried to pull the thin, faintly sweet mild from her flesh without hurting her with his teeth” Morison 13. This is the act that earned him his nickname, Milkman. His mother Ruth was ashamed and brought about a stigma that was never over looked by her husband, Milkman’s father.
He sought to discover his true identity as a person and as he struggled with the idea he thought that leaving his home and family would be the best solution for the way he was feeling. His father, Macon finically supported his decision by allowing him to search for a bag of gold hidden in his hometown of Virginian. This particular bag of gold is believed to be in the same location where Pilate and Macon fought over it when they were young children. Milkman uncovers his dream while on his journey and comes to the realization that he wants to know about his past and who he really is.
Milkman decides that he wants to uncover what his ancestors before him decided to keep hidden in their past. The renaming of the abolition and the history of slavery that has been detached from Milkman is what he seeks to recover and becomes his version of the American dream. Milkman’s detachment stems from the constant deception and distortion given to him by his father Macon and his aunt Pilate. This pains Milkman because he dreams of a better connection of his peoples past. This journey eventually leads him to his death, but through his death he receives freedom from his bondage.
He is unable to value his current success with those around him until he discovers the truth about his past. This is a common trait among African Americans, to find out about their past. Pilate and Macon were separated when their father passed away and they both lived two very different lives. Pilate lived a life on the move from place to place with no sense of security but her own. She lives a charismatic free life in a sense. Pilate is not married and has no interest in becoming married. Her life is fully of happiness, whimsy and dance. Unlike Pilate, Macon