The American dream is as varied as the people who populate America. The play The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, the poem "Ellis Island" by Joseph Bruchac, and the poem "America and I" by Anzia Yezierska illustrate different perspectives of the American dream. All three authors show some lines of thought on what the freedom inherent in the American dream means. The authors clarify distinct ideas on the means to achieving the American dream. The authors also elucidate some different goals striven for in the dream for a better life. Diverse ideas on how freedom plays into the American dream, what actions are needed to achieve the American dream, and the goals of that dream are explained in the works of the three authors.
The portion of American culture that makes the American dream possible is that of freedom of opportunity and self-determination. Opportunity in America means that people have a chance of making a good lives for themselves with proper guidance and strong wills. The character Willy Loman in The Death of a Salesman showed his faith in American opportunity when he thought of his brother Ben saying such comments as, "Opportunity is tremendous in Alaska, William. Surprised you're not up there" (Miller 45). Because Willy passed up opportunities, he felt that he had failed the American dream. In "Ellis Island", the speaker portrays opportunity as the chance to do honest work and get rewarded for it. This idea is shown in the lines, "[Dreams] Waiting for those who'd worked a thousand years yet never owned their own"(Bruchac l. 11-13). Similarly, the poem "America and I" expressed the freedom of opportunity as a...
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...or wrong. Different pictures of the American dream are displayed through The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, "Ellis Island" by Joseph Bruchac, and "America and I" by Anzia Yezierska. Although the dreams may vary in substance, they are all rooted in American freedom, land, and desires.
Literature for Composition: Essays, Fiction, Poetry, and Drama ed. Sylvan Barnet, Longman 2000
Bruchac, Joseph. Ellis Island, Sylvan Barnet, Literature for Composition
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: Penguin, 1949.
Yezierska, Anzia. "America and I." The Open Cage: An Anzia Yezierska Collection. Ed. Alice
Kessler-Harris. New York: Persea Books, 1979. Rpt. in The Heath Anthology of American
Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter et al. 4 ed. Vol. 2. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
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