The strive to be successful in America is seen throughout time, this idea of success has been characterizing Americans for centuries. For as long as this country has been created every citizen and immigrant that has arrived strives to work as hard as possible to fulfill their American Dream. This idea of the American Dream has been criticized by these famous books: The Great Gatsby and in Of Mice and Men.
The story of The Great Gatsby takes place after the first World War, during the Roaring Twenties. Nick Carraway moves from Minnesota to New York where all events of matter happen to him in the summer this story take place in. He learns of his fellow neighbors especially of the extravagant parties of Gatsby. Nick finds out many stories of the people he meets including the affair by Tom with Myrtle against Tom’s wife Daisy. Nick gets an invitation to one of Gatsby’s parties where he personally meets the man, and later learns that Gatsby has all these parties for the love of his life, Daisy. Events occur and Myrtle is killed by Daisy in Gatsby’s car, he takes the blame and is killed by Myrtle’s husband. The story Of Mice and Men is about a pair of buddies known as, Lennie and George. They are always on the run because of all the Lennie puts them both in.
It’s not Lennie’s fault he is just very slow, and hurts things he cares about without the intent of hurting it. George wants to save enough money with Lennie so they can buy land and live peacefully away from everyone, so nobody will harm them and nobody will get harmed from them. They work on a farm to gain the amount of money they sought after to get the land they want to own. They believe that if they acquire this income they will be able to fulfill their American Dream. Conflict arises in the story and Lennie gets in the way of their dream by accidently killing Curley’s wife, the tart. This requires them to run away to their spot by the river if they were ever in trouble. George learns of all that happens and chooses a decision that will bring him to a great sadness and disappointment. These authors show us the idea that looking for the American Dream is wearisome, and painful it only brings sadness and disappointment in the end.
The books seem to show that our livelihood as people gets to be corrupted by the American Dream, and it taints itself before our eyes. In The Great Gatsby, Tom accuses Gatsby of using wrong and illegal means to gain his fortune. He stated in the text, “I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong” (Fitzgerald). It seems to be very easy to see that Gatsby definitely used very wrongs methods to achieve his wealth and goals. He shows that those who follow the American Dream feel as though they must use all resources they have to reach it, even if they are not generally considered morally correct. The same idea is also supported by Steinbeck. In Of Mice and Men, most of the workers on the ranch have a strong goal that they are working towards.
They want to be able to accumulate money to buy property and make a better life for themselves. However, their more basic desires lead them to waste their money on what are generally seen as wrong morals, like drinking and buying off women, they say, “Well, a guy gotta have some fun sometime” (Steinbeck, p53). Although their pursuit of the American Dream is not making them do these actions, it seems they are indirectly led to such behavior by it through their actions of not being able to control themselves for how much they spend their money on. The books strongly support the idea that the pursuit of the American Dream results in actions that are seen as morally wrong.
Another idea supported by both books is seeking the American Dream brings disappointment. Of Mice And Men is the story of two men who attempt for their dream, but utterly fail by horrible means that ends in one’s life gone. At the end, Lennie accidentally murders a woman and George is forced to shoot him. His fellow ranch workers soon followed after, and George is shown upset. In his own attempt for the American Dream, George had to so a terrible act by killing his good friend Lennie. The obvious message is that the American Dream brings strong disappointment and sadness. The same idea is reinforced by Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby. Gatsby worked for years to raise his social status so that he could marry Daisy, his girlfriend when he was in the army. In the book, he finally meets her, but Daisy has already married and has had a life with her husband. It becomes obvious that Daisy is not prepared to leave her husband for Gatsby. In describing Gatsby’s feelings in the evening following an unsuccessful confrontation of Tom, the narrator states in the book, “He must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream” (Fitzgerald). Getting Daisy was Gatsby’s goal. When he failed, he was, as the passage shows, very sad and disappointed. This further goes to support the idea that the pursuit of the American Dream results in disappointment.
The authors both believe that trying to pursue the American Dream is pointless. In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby spends the majority of his life attempting to reach his own type of American Dream, but is never able to gain it. Near the end of the book’s final chapter, the narrator of the story states in the text, “It eluded us then, but that’s no matter tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . and one fine morning. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (Fitzgerald). These words perfectly sums up Fitzgerald’s opinion on the American Dream. His opinion is that trying to fulfill the American dream is similar to struggling against an overpowering current. In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck showed a similar message: those who are fighting to reach the American Dream never do. Crooks has watched many men come through, all of them with high, lofty goals. Crooks states, “I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an on the ranches, with their bundles on their back and that same damn thing in their heads . . . . every damn one of ems got a little piece of land in his head. An never a God damn one of em ever gets it” (Steinbeck, p74). To the workers that come to the ranch, obtaining their own land would be their very own American Dream. The message is clear that this dream is rarely reached. In fact, Steinbeck also introduced the idea that to desire for the American Dream is what actually prevents people from reaching it. Slim, the only character who seems to be happy with his position, shows the fulfillment of the American Dream. Steinbeck states that the American Dream is not found in a struggle to improve, but in contentment with what is available. These books clearly present the concept that the pursuit of the American Dream is practically pointless.
By these examples, it is clear that Fitzgerald and Steinbeck are both strongly criticizing the American Dream. They strongly believe that the American Dream, a central part of American culture and identity, is a wasteful idea to pursue . They believe that it leads to the violation of moral standards and will only lead one down the path of disappointment and sadness. Disillusioned by the promise of the Dream, Fitzgerald and Steinbeck had both presented compelling examples of how the American Dream is a useless thought to sought after in American Society rather than the valued goal that it is often portrayed as for all of us.
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