Evolution of a Dream Essay examples

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The Evolution of a Dream The Land of Opportunity. This has been a nickname for America for hundreds of years. America has always been known for its almost limitless opportunity, which is what originally sparked the idea of the American dream. Few writers capture the idea of America and its so-called dream better than Tim O’Brien, author of July, July and The Things They Carried. However, Tim O’Brien, unlike many esteemed American authors, wrote about a generation that abandoned the ideas of those preceding them, a generation that is closely examined in the two novels. July, July follows a group of middle-aged men and women who graduated from college in the year 1969 and are celebrating their thirtieth reunion. It switches between stories of the reunion itself and stories of each of their pasts. In this way, July, July closely examines the generation represented. The Things They Carried follows a young man, named Tim O’Brien, who is drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. It chronicles his life before, during, and after the war. Though The Things They Carried is largely based on the experiences of O’Brien during the war, ultimately, it is fictional. However this does not detract from the meaningfulness of the novel. As the literary critic Alexander Vernon says, “The Things They Carried repeatedly attests to the power of storytelling to transform events and to affirm a new kind of truth, one more spiritual than factual, while somehow in the process redeeming us and resurrecting the dead” (Vernon). Vernon implies that though the story is not true, it serves a similar, and arguably more important role in showing the truth about the War in Vietnam. Through each of his stories, O’Brien shows us the internal struggle of an unwilling participant in the Vietnam War, a war that many believed was an abomination to freedom. In July, July and The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien proves that the baby-boomer generation , against the back of the Vietnam War failed to achieve the quintessential American Dream of their fore fathers and instead created a new American Dream, one more meaningful and based on each individual’s dreams. What is the American Dream? For generations previous to those represented in the novels it would be an ascent from humble roots to material prosperity. However, it is evident in the novels that O’Brien’s generation did not share this idea. The baby-boomer generation had a far more liberal outlook regarding their hopes and desires. Many of them wanted more than anything else things such as human rights and world peace, unlike the previous generation’s thirst for mostly just money. In July, July, Jan Huebner held strong social convictions. After college, she spent her days “alerting the distracted citizenry of ongoing genocide in Vietnam.” (July, July 75) Unlike those which came before them, these acts were common amongst that generation. After college she followed her dream of fighting for human rights and social justice, rather than trying to get rich. Even some of those who achieved the material prosperity desired by those preceding them found themselves ultimately unhappy. In July, July, Dorothy Stier was living the American dream; she had a house in the suburbs, a rich, handsome, sweet husband, and two kids. But the internal conflicts caused by the years of regret that were the cost of this lifestyle drove her mad. At one point in the novel, she had a mental breakdown in which she stood in the middle of her neighborhood and fought with her husband completely nude. After achieving what many would consider to be a prosperous lifestyle, “she was a woman in need of redefinition” (July, July, 255). After everything, she still hadn’t found what she was looking for; she hadn’t found her American dream. The generation that fought in World War II had a more firm idea of what America meant to them. It was a land of opportunity; one where you can grow up poor and become rich. They trusted the government and never