Rereading America: The Myth of Individual Opportunity

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Re-Reading America: The Myth of Individual Opportunity What is the American dream? The traditional American dream is one in which someone can start from nothing and build themselves up into a great success, with all the material trappings that go with that success. So, if the American dream is self-built success, then what defines success? In the American dream, success is largely defined by the possession of certain material goods and money. You are considered a success in America if you have enough money to be comfortable financially (i.e., paying all of your bills and having plenty left over for entertainment and material goods), and if you have possession of a nice house in the suburbs, a nice car or two, a pretty and well-dressed family, and the respect and even awe of your community. That is the American dream and the success that defines it. The American dream is large in the minds of the American public, and indeed, of people around the world. It has taken on somewhat of a life of its own, and its clear, powerful call has brought people from around the world to the shores of the United States for more than a century, each of them hoping to capture a little bit of the American dream for themselves. While some have (there are famous immigrants in history who have come to America with nothing and created ridiculously successful financial empires that even continue today), most have found that the proverbial American dream is far more myth than reality (Bambara
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