The American Dream By Jay Gatsby Essay

The American Dream By Jay Gatsby Essay

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Jay Gatsby, the apparent symbol of the failed American dream. Yes, he is fictional, but stands for all things wrong with the so-called “American Dream”. Despite his wealth, lavish house, and expensive car, he was never ‘good-enough’. Even though he rose from poverty through tireless work, he was never seen as an equal to the old-money East Eggers. This is similar to how American society puts down certain individuals based on gender, race, or social standing. While theoretically anyone can achieve the American dream, actual realties about an individuals upbringing make it difficult for anyone to achieve.
To begin, stratification plays an important role in determining success. Those who start in a high strata (upper-class, upper-middle-class), tend to have families stay or rise above that strata. Through habitus, these individuals are thought to be more educated and qualified and deserve to be in this position, while the low strata (near-poor and poor) are lazy and untalented. Schools tend to emphasize the cultural capital of the higher strata, thus ostracizing the lower strata. Bourdieu explains that schools value this capital, it in turn convinces lower strata individuals they will be unable to succeed. As a result, members of these groups are excluded from the ‘success race’ by blatant facts, or by a ‘choice’ of a more realistic life path (such as any trade job). Additionally, those in upper strata instill opportunities to place their children in the most beneficial positon for the future. Whether enrolling in foreign language, going to the art museum, or simply reading, these exposures to cultural capital put the children at an advantage. Lower strata families may not have the time or money to expose their children to these ...


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...ystematic removal from success.
In conclusion, achieving success in the form of the American dream is easiest for those in high strata and a part of mainstream US society. America does have more social mobility than most countries. Everyone is guaranteed a K-12 education, and success can come to anyone. Any individual living in the disadvantaged situations above could become a successful CEO. There is not deterministic fate for everyone, rather there is a probability for failure or success based on strata level. Higher strata individuals have an innate advantage—since they don’t have to fight structural barriers—but are not guaranteed success. So yes, the American dream can occur. Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Obama are some examples of the endless hard work Cinderella story. But for every achieve, there are countless who failed fighting a system rigged against them.

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