Land of Disappointments Essay

Submitted By cngiacoletti
Words: 1006
Pages: 5

The Land of Disappointments The American dream is an idea that society perceives as a life of personal happiness and material comfort also enabling anyone to pursue and fulfill their own dream. Although this country was based off of these beliefs, in today’s world these goals are not quite reachable. Obsessing over the materialistic value that money holds has perverted this all American white picket fence vision; having too much money or not having enough causes a roadblock for Americans in pursing the dream. This creates an unequal and unfair society for people to live in. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby he shows how the American dream is not achievable. Although in the book the characters do have wealth, their worlds are consumed with just that. The American dream is about establishing happiness and fulfilling dreams. Even in the book Jay Gatsby lives his entire life building up his wealth and social status to just result in his own death. The characters in this story use money as a mere accessory- something that is renewable used to their own advantage.
There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and he champagne and the stars. At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his motor-boats slid the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam. On week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains. And on Mondays eight servants, including an extra gardener, toiled all day with mops and scrubbing-brushes and hammers and garden-shears, repairing the ravages of the night before. (43)
This quote shows how extravagant Gatsby’s parties were and how he throws his money around because he has a lot of it. In the end, the American dream is shown to not be achievable since money is put as the highest priority above personal happiness. The American dream is also not achievable based on today’s current economy, unlike the Great Gatsby where money is not seen as an issue. In Barbara Ehrenreich’s excerpt from “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” she works undercover for a maid service in Maine getting the real experience of entry-level jobs. Through this experience she gained an understanding of how in America, “the land of opportunity”, not all people are given equal opportunities. The workers in the maid service are treated horribly and unfairly, working with conditions that any normal person would take a sick day for. Ehrenreich states, “If I don’t know how my coworkers survive on their wages or what they make of our hellish condition, I do know about their back pains and cramps and arthritic attacks” (76). This shows that people are not given the equal opportunities that they are promised. These maids are left working for people who have enough money to pay another human being to clean up after their mess. The maids work so hard that it is to the point where they develop health problems and at the end of the day they make less than the person whom they are working for. The original American dream is based on achieving personal happiness and as William Zinsser said, “Happiness goes to the man who has the sweet smell of achievement” (87). One cannot achieve happiness or the monetary comfort that they need to succeed in society because of today’s current financial situation. Although America is not in the state where equal opportunity is practiced during today’s economy, this can also be because of one’s birthright. As stated in the article, “The Slow Death of the American Dream” by Noah Kristula-Green, “…40%…