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Rock Street, San Francisco

Christopher Matula
English 9
Mr. Nolan
If you are succeeding consistently in life from childhood to early adulthood, then this statistic is for you: the percent success of achieving The American Dream is an 85% chance, (via http://www.statisticbrain.com/chances-of-achieving-the-american-dream/) which is a great chance to achieve what you want to do in your life, as long as you work hard at your dream. In Clifford Odets’ Golden Boy, and Shanzeh Khurram’s article stated “Is the American Dream becoming too materialistic?” Joe and Americans today, respectively, have corrupted their dreams in order to fit into the standards that our society has set today. As a result of the conflict between us as humans and our lifestyle, Joe Bonaparte tries to make his American Dream something that he does not want, but rather a dream to achieve money. This leads to our society in the real world to corrupt our dreams to fit the standards set today.
The American Dream is a dream of a land in which life should be better and fuller for everyone. It has an opportunity for everyone. James Truslow Adams says “It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable.” James tells us that the American Dream is about how each person should obtain their social order without a want or persistent need for money and expensive vehicles and objects. Marius Bewley says “The romantic enlargement of the possibilities of life… Historically, the American Dream is anti-Calvinistic.” This quote by Marius is describing to us that Americans should do what they want to do, and not what God has set for them, thus the dream being called the “American Dream.” Arthur Mizener says “The American Dream is something that includes an ideal purpose, something that is possessed by each of us individually. The quote refers to a saying that everyone’s dream has a purpose. It is not just something that comes out of the blue. We have a natural instinct to our dream once we set our sights on it. Every person will most likely have a different dream than the other person. Paula Deen, American celebrity chef and former cooking show television says the following. “I am living proof that the American dream still exists. It is still alive and well. There is only one trick, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and work very, very hard.” Paula makes a very good point about the dream Americans can have. It is not just something that one can have your eyes set on and it will instantly happen. Us as humans have to make an effort to do it, like how she did by getting into the business of cooking. The American Dream, in summary, is a clear cut idea in which a person should want, and not worry so much about the salary of that job you have.

In Clifford Odets’ Golden Boy, The American Dream of Joe Bonaparte is to become a professional violin player. He wants to achieve what he loves the most, no matter the salary, which is playing the violin. Mr. Bonaparte talks about Joe’s dream with Carp when he bought him the twelve hundred dollar violin and exclaims “Why? Don’t expect for Joe to be a millionaire. He don’t need it, to be millionaire. A good life’sa possible.” Joe’s dad is aware of his dream and is fully supportive of it because it is what Joe wants to do with his life. Mr. Bonaparte has no care in the world that it is not a high wage job. When Lorna is talking to Joe about how he has gone far in the fighting game, he has no care for it, saying “Music means more to me.” Although his fighting game has gotten so good, he does not have a care in the world for it, because his music career is far more important to him. Joe realizes that fighting may have a better economical outcome, it is not the thing he wants to have happen in his life. He wants to do the things that matter, like helping someone with music or showcasing his musical ability to others. When Moody talks about Joe coming to the gym the next day at the beginning of the story, he says “Maybe I won’t be there. I might give up fighting as a bad job. I’m not over convinced it’s what I want. I can do other things…” When Joe says he may want to do other things, it is clearly obvious to us that he wants to do what he loves: play the violin and make a career out of it. Joe does not want to do fighting as a job and is not convinced for what he wants to do because if he breaks his hand, he will no longer have a chance to achieve his dream, thus his dream becoming a mess and getting destroyed. He wants a future in something, not being a no life with a broken hand.
Whereas most people would like to keep what they love to do, Joe does not do that. He corrupts his American Dream by becoming greedy and wanting to achieve economic success in his lifetime. He no longer can play the violin because of his hand breaking in a fight. Joe gets into a conversation with Lorna and says “I’m going to buy a car.” Lorna then asks him how he will get the money, and Joe responds with “I’ll get it.” After Lorna says to him that he would get the cash if he really went to fight, he says “Tell your Mr. Moody I’ll dazzle the eyes out of his head!” Joe has made a change in his life because he is extremely interested in going fast (he proceeds to say “Speed, speed, everything is speed – nobody gets me!”) and realizes that the only way to get the car is by doing one thing, which is making a change to his dream so it is brand new and achievable to what he now wants. Joe’s persistent want for a car has made it so his dream is now destroyed. As Lorna tries to compensate Joe after he killed Chocolate Drop, he says “I was a real sparrow, and I wanted to be a fake eagle!” Joe is saying that he wanted to be something he was not. Once he realized it was worse than he was, he was very upset with himself and would have loved to go back to his old self, but it was too late. He corrupted what he loved so much. Joe is with Lorna when he goes and tells her that “Lorna darling, we’ll burn up the night!” His death, which happens as a result of the car becomes one of the reasons he corrupts his dream. Once he got the car, everything was getting worse. He did not care for anything besides money, which ultimately led to Joe becoming objectified. While Eddie talks to Frank at the end of the book, Frank asks how much of himself Joe owns. Eddie responds with “Thirty percent. After tonight, I own the rest.” Joe has corrupted his dream because of this quote due to the fact of him not owning himself anymore. He is seen as a piece of property to just about everyone he befriended while becoming a fighter.
While Joe wants to become a violinist, we see how Shanzeh Khurram’s article agrees with his thought as she states that her idea of an American dream is to become what you or the person next to you wants to do with their life. Shanzeh states “A fulfilling career, a family, and giving back to the community- these are the things that really matter”. Shanzeh, an outside source from Pakistan, who has not been here for as long as most adult, knows that the American Dream is to become what you want to do with your life. We should not be forced by others for what one should do with his or her life. She also goes on to quote an anonymous source that says ” “Dreams shouldn’t be about what you can buy- they should be about what mark you leave in the world.”” The American Dream in our life is getting what matters to the world. Not something that will hardly show how good of a person you are, but instead show the goodness of your heart and soul. Shanzeh realizes that no one will care about you because of having a nice house or car, but instead about the impact an individual has done while living on Earth. In Khurram’s article, she also states “I’ve come to realize that shopping at Banana Republic or Gap will not do anything to make me happier.” Khurram’s quote has a very valid point, saying that just because you bought a Nike shirt or a $300 pair of shoes while already having shirts that a smaller company made will not make a person’s life happier. Most people already have what they need, but buy other things in order to make an attempt at a dream they have. She has the common sense of an outsider that her dream will not change because she did not wear a brand that has no meaning to anyone. This also tells us that the subject of money should not phase yourself because you are living your own dream. Shanzeh finally goes on to say “I don’t want my life to become an endless pursuit of buying things that I don’t need.” Shanzeh is straight up telling us that the dream is not about achieving useless items while you already have everything. The dream is much more complicated, because we should be doing other things like helping people out and getting an acknowledgeable career. The American Dream is now quite simple to us as the reader. You should care about the things that matter, like how to get a good job and receiving love from your family and others. You should not have other people influence what you want to do with the time we have on Earth.
However, we also see how she explains how The American Dream is also becoming corrupted more and more each and every day. The American Dream is in fact shown to be more indifferent than what it used to be. Shanzeh’s first point of corruption is “There seems to be no limit to the ridiculous expenditure, especially when people are actually willing to spend money on solid gold bags.” The fact that a person would buy a golden bag instead of catering to others is just mind boggling. The dream has been corrupted from this article because it is no longer what it used to be. It has changed due to societies corrupting our dreams by following the pack. It once used to be a different idea. Khurram then says “I look at America today, I see a nation obsessed with shopping and buying unnecessary products.” Khurram, who knows exactly what she is talking about, has seen that our dream has been wrecked. One of the ways to be socially accepted is to be buying a product from a company that everyone knows. People now have the care about how much money you have and what you can get with it. Everyone gets ecstatic when they see that someone got the iPhone 7 or a car that came out less than a week ago. Khurram also goes on to quote from over a 100 years ago that states “People are trying to “keep up with the Joneses” by defining their worth on the basis of what they possess.” This quote directly shows that the American Dream has been corrupted because it is no longer what it used to be. Everyone has the new thought of the American Dream, and not being a nice person is almost no longer valued to most people. If you do not have the things that your neighbor has, you can almost be considered that you are almost not good of a person as the other. Shanzeh wants the dream to go back to what it used to be, and not this buying of useless items and having to compare it with others. Her last quote that makes a great point states “With the availability of social media, rich people can compare their status to that of people all around the world.” Our community now feels inclined to get what a person like Selena Gomez or Brad Pitt get because they can post it online. Since everyone looks up to these people because of the fortune they possess, and we see that an almost bragging competition starts, as to who can have the best chance as showing off what they can have.
In conclusion, we see how Joe, from the 1930’s, had an American Dream and then corrupted it, like most people. Shanzeh’s article shows us that we have a chance at obtaining our dream as long as we work hard for it and do not stop for a higher paying salary cap. Personally, I think that the American Dream is still achievable today, however, it has fluctuated from what it used to be. Our dream was to get a family, make a good life, and have people remember you. Although these things are great to have, people have changed the dream so you can get all those things, as well as achieve a salary that is beneficial to yourself. It has made some people change their dream, which is a good idea in my opinion. For example, if you want to become a sports player, but cannot get that dream because you are not good enough, you can do something like become a team owner or a coach. Sure, it is nice to do what your love, but if you do not make anything out of it and cannot do anything to show a passion for something to someone, you may eventually start to lose things like family and other respectable things, which will eventually lead to more of a corruption then what corruptions we have seen from people before. I personally also think that we should not be influenced so much by television and things like advertisements, as we see the most popular things in the world. Humans want to buy items that are the most advertised because it seems like the right thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, nothing is wrong with that. Buy your favorite advertised product if you love it that much. But don’t wait 2 months to buy a bag that costs $200 more just because it has a logo on it that the other one does. We should not make our dreams unrealistic, but should not make them so easy to achieve.

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