What Is the American Dream?

Published 12 Apr 2017

The 1900 can be considered as one of America’s Golden Ages. It is a year of prosperity and wealth. It is a time of optimism. At that time, America “was the place of the self-made man, the American Dream, rags to riches.” (“1900: A Year in the Life”) This is what most Americans believe to be true. This is what people from other countries hear. This is why people from other countries dream of going to America, and actually go to America. Families like the ones in the picture go to America to make their dreams come true—to make the American dream come true.

The picture shows the power of American dream. The American dream is powerful enough to make people believe. It is powerful to enough to make people dream and actually dare to reach that dream. It is powerful enough to pull people away from their roots and dare new and unfamiliar places where their future is uncertain and their fate a gamble. It is powerful enough to make people leave everything they have behind in their own countries and cross the oceans to make the first step towards the fulfillment of their dream—the American dream.

The immigrants in the picture are the immigrants in the past. They are the people who, in 1900, believed that America will give them, something different and better from what they have in their own country. For them, American does not describe the dream the same way as Belgian describes chocolate in Belgian chocolate and California describes wine in California wine. Instead, for them, America is the dream. America symbolizes everything they hope to achieve—prosperity, leisure and a better life. They go to America because being in America means prosperity, leisure and a better life. The American dream for them is breaking away from the constraints of their homeland. It means breaking away from the chains of poverty and difficulty in a land where these chains do not exist.

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I can relate to these people. I am not an American. I am from Brazil, Rio de Janeiro. This is why I understand the pull of America and the American Dream. For people like me and the immigrants in the picture, America is a great place to live. It gives many opportunities, not only to its citizens, but also to its immigrants.

On board a ship, they pass the statue of liberty. For the immigrants in the picture, the Statue of Liberty is a landmark. However, more than just marking the point where they reach the United States territory, it marks the end of poverty and the end of their difficulties. It symbolizes the end of their journey and the achievement of their dream. It is the point where they look up from their ships towards the sky and say, “here we are. The long wait is over.” It ends all anticipations. Aside from all the ends the Statue of Liberty symbolizes, it also symbolizes beginnings. It is the beginning of a new life. It is the beginning of a better life.

This is what sets these immigrants apart from the Americans today. At present, the Statue of Liberty is still a landmark. More than just a landmark, it symbolizes a nation. While for the immigrants in the picture, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes what they can and will be, for the Americans today, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes what they are. For the immigrants, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes a dream that, at that point, is already within their reach. For the Americans today, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes everything that is American. It symbolizes liberty of a different kind. It is not only liberty or freedom from poverty and difficulty anymore that the Statue of Liberty symbolizes. More importantly, it symbolizes liberty to act, to think, to express and to choose.

To end, it is interesting to note that people no longer come to the United States through ships. At present, people come to the United States through planes. Therefore, people do not need to look up anymore towards where the Statue of Liberty stands proudly such as when people do when they want to reach their dreams. Instead, people first see the statue from the sky and go down until they are level with, and later on below the statue, such as when people look and bend down to reach their roots. It is like when people go back to where they belong and embrace what they actually are as a nation. (Word Count: 711)

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