The core idea behind the “American Dream” is the United States’ national ethos, revolving around freedom and the opportunity to achieve success, prosperity, and upward social mobility through patience and hard work. This dream is meant to benefit every American by providing them with a richer, fuller, and better life, as well as the opportunity to showcase their achievements and abilities, regardless of their current social class. Additionally, the “American Dream” encourages active participation in the growth of the economy and society, ultimately leading to prosperity (Rhodes, 2010). According to Rhodes (2010), in the “American Dream”, it was emphasized that every American child has the right to grow up and acquire the best education and career without any barriers and limitations. Regardless of religion, race, class, or ethnicity, everyone should have the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and contribute to the success and prosperity of society.
In relation to the two texts discussed in class, the theme of the “American Dream” is clearly present. For example, in the first text entitled “Babylon Revisited” the character of Charlie Wales embodies the realization of the “American Dream” as an American businessman who moved to Paris to enjoy his self-made wealth. However, the story also illustrates the negative side of the so-called “American Dream” as Charlie displays acts of indulgence and overconfidence when he acquires vast amounts of wealth and starts living his dreams (Fitzgerald, 1931). He becomes immersed in drinking vices, stops working, becomes corrupt due to the influence of money, and often quarrels with his wife. In one of Charlie’s conversations with Lincoln, he boasts, “There’s a lot of business there that isn’t moving at all, but we’re doing better than ever. In fact, damn well…” (Fitzgerald, 1931, p. 7). It is evident that Charlie is boasting to demonstrate his superiority over Lincoln and his wife, Marion Peters. In a way, it appears that the “American Dream” somehow created a negative impact on those Americans who achieved their dream lives. While the “American Dream” taught them to strive hard and work diligently to achieve their dreams, it failed to teach them proper restraint in handling money and wealth (Fitzgerald, 1931).
In the second text, Ernest Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” the author presents a glimpse of freedom associated with an old dream of many American pioneers and immigrants, which they have not experienced for a long time. The story also reflects the frustrations of many people in America as they continuously pursue freedom, prosperity, and their enduring belief that they can escape the cruel impact of industrial slums, wasted lands, and religious persecution brought about by economic development (Hemingway, 1938). It is clear from the story that although the “American Dream” is an advantageous and significant ethos in America, it still has negative effects that cannot be prevented.
In conclusion, the “American Dream” which is the national ethos of America centered around freedom and the opportunity for success, prosperity, and upward social mobility, is evident in the two important texts discussed in class. In Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited” the “American Dream” is depicted in a negative light through the main character’s indulgence and overconfidence resulting from living a wealthy life. The story shows that the “American Dream” can have a negative impact on some Americans who achieve their dreams but fail to exercise proper restraint with their wealth. On the other hand, in Ernest Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” the author presents a glimpse of freedom brought about by the “American Dream,” which leads to ill-effects and the cruel impact of economic development and prosperity on industrial slums, wasted lands, and religious persecution.
Fitzgerald, F.S. (1931). Babylon revisited. Scriptor Press.
Hemingway, E. (1938). The snows of Kilimanjaro. Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Rhodes, L. (2010). The ethnic press: Shaping the American Dream. Peter Lang Publishing.