The American Dream, at its most basic level, is the belief that if an American works hard enough she will obtain success.
Some historical figures that exemplify the American Dream include president Abraham Lincoln and industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Lincoln grew up in a log cabin and with an abusive father, but eventually became the 16th president of the United States. Carnegie also had a poor childhood, but immigrated to the US and created the steel company which led him to success.
Yet some doubt its continued existence today. Others doubt its stated intent, to let citizens or immigrants know that there is a guaranteed way to success through hard work.
College freshman Noah Kim remarked, “[The American Dream] was made to give people hope — hope to get workers to keep working hard and benefit the companies, rather than themselves.”
According to Kim, while the American Dream seems well-meaning, there is a huge unfairness involved as well.
“Rich people just have more of an advantage and more connections than the poor,” said Kim. “The poor have to work harder and rely on luck to provide opportunities.”
The deficit between the rich and poor is not the only factor that seems to distort each of their respective views into belief and skepticism. Literature, for example, often points out the pitfalls of the Dream. John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” criticize the American Dream as something not entirely positive, or at least not anymore.
“The Great Gatsby influenced my views on the American Dream negatively,” Kim told JSR. “It’s really unfair to some specific people.”
Based on the words of many others, opinions differ when it comes to the American Dream. Those who are likely to believe in the American Dream are either the ones who have achieved it or the ones who can see the “end of the tunnel.” It is an attractive concept that for which many immigrants come here, but it is definitely not accessible to everyone who seeks it.
“I think it’s a pretty optimistic idea and concept,” said West Ranch High School freshman Joshua Kim. “It seems to be achieved by many people, but the rich have a bigger chance at succeeding.”