Tanner Lebo

Mrs. Jank

English 2

30 November 2017

The Benefits and Dangers of the American Dream

Throughout history, society has showcased what they thought the American 

Dream was supposed to look like. The dream used to be to own and work on land or to strike it rich with gold. They wanted to not only own their own house and make money but also be liked and respected by everyone. Nowadays, people want college, a rewarding job, money, and fame. However, most people fail to realize how most people will not be able to reach the dream. Society has convinced people of the American Dream, but it is important to not let those fantasies take over the reality that is the lack of people that are able to achieve it, and the amount of people that are left out. Although having dreams is a necessity, there is also a danger in having and believing in the American Dream. The characters from a poem called “Out, Out-“, Of Mice and Men, and Death of a Salesman demonstrate how people must have dreams, but why it is important to not let them overshadow the reality of the American Dream. 

The first character is Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman. He states his 

dream through saying, “I always felt that if a man was impressive and well liked…” (Miller 75). Willy wants to be accepted and liked by everyone. Willy fails to realize that one does not have to be liked by everyone to be successful. He is so focused on his dream that he will not accept anything less. He does not want a change even when Charley gives him a better opportunity for a job. He still thinks he is a great salesman, and because he his so focused on this, he does not see the reality of what he truly he is, which is a run down salesman who is disposable and isn’t being taken seriously anymore. His dreams were very unrealistic, as they were “to come out number one man” (Miller 111). There are not many people that come out as number one man, and that shows that Willy’s dream was unrealistic. It is okay to have dreams, but they must be more realistic and achievable so that one may reach them someday. Willy is rarely happy, but when he is, it is because “he’s looking forward to something” (Miller 82). Otherwise, he is realizing that his dreams will never become a reality and is mad and always thinking back to happy memories. This demonstrates how life is without a dream, because when Willy was not looking forward to something, or dreaming of what he could become, he was yelling all the time and was very disoriented.

In contrast to Willy, Biff does not have a dream, and he shows why living a life without 

them is dangerous. Biff does not believe in his dad’s dream, nor does he have one. He used to have dreams, but once he saw who his father truly was, he gave up on them. After realizing how blinded his father is by the dream, he tells him to “take that phony dream and burn it before something happens” (Miller 106). Biff loses all hope of a dream after he sees the reality of the world. He ends up going from job to job and is never happy. He sees life as pointless, because he has no dream. Later in the book, Biff finally realizes what a lie his whole life is, and leaves the readers thinking that he may figure his life out. He might create his own dream, and this time actually reach it. Although he probably does change after Willy dies, Biff still shows what life is without a dream. From understanding his character, one may realize why it is important to have a dream, but that it should be that person’s own dream, not one that society has made. 

While Biff did not have a dream, Lennie and Crooks in the book Of Mice and Men did. Their characters demonstrates how some people are left out of the dream. They are kept out of the dream because of their physical appearance and mental abilities. Lennie wants “something he could live on and there couldn’t nobody throw him off of it” (Steinbeck 76). Lennie and George both share the dream and want to make it a reality. However, they do not realize that it will never become a reality due to the mental disability that Lennie has. Because of this, he will never see the dream actually happen. Lennie will never be able to achieve his dream. Crooks also is kept out of the dream, mostly because he is black. He realizes this, and also sees the ignorance of other people‘s dreams, saying, “nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land” (Steinbeck 74). He has no dream, but he starts to get a little hopeful when Lennie talks his dream with George. Ultimately, he ends up realizing again who he is and that he will never be able to achieve it. Society looks for the best and brightest, and only those are able to achieve the American Dream. One may be left out of the dream just because of a disability or because he is different. That person may still believe, but might suffer much sorrow and grief once they see the reality. This is why believing in the American Dream can be dangerous. 

Similarly, the boy from the poem “Out, Out-“ by Robert Frost is kept out of the dream. 

The boy in the poem had a dream since childhood, which was “doing a man’s work” (Frost 24). Then, his hand was cut off while he was working in a lumberyard. The boy realized that he could not work anymore, and “saw all spoiled” (Frost 25). He realized his dream was over, and that he would be able to achieve it, because he could not work. He ended up dying, and everyone else “turned to their affairs” (Frost 34). This shows how he was kept out of the dream once his hand was cut off. It also shows how once he lost the dream, he became nothing. Through the boy, readers can realize that it is very dangerous to not have a dream, because it can make life meaningless. A person should have dreams, because without them they will have nothing to live for.

In conclusion, it is important for people to have dreams, but there can also be 

a danger to this. The character of Willy Loman warns the reader against having unrealistic dreams that can hide the reality of the world. Biff shows the reader why people should have dreams, and why life without dreams is pointless. Crooks and Lennie demonstrate how some people are kept out of the dream, and will never be able to achieve it. Finally, the boy from the poem shows life without a dream, and how he is left out of the dream as soon as his hand is cut off. After considering this, a person must reevaluate the American Dream. People need to have dreams, because those dreams give them something to look forward to doing and a point to life. However, one must not let this dream take over reality, and they must make sure that the dreams are realistic and achievable. They must be the person’s own dreams, not what society has shaped for them. Then, and only then, they will not be crushed by failure, and will achieve their goals.

Works Cited

Frost, Robert. “Out, Out-.” poetryfoundation.org. 30 October 2017. Web.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Penguin, 1998.

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. Penguin, 1993.

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