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What is the significance of the novel's statement regarding the American Dream?

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dogwoofmeaw | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 3, 2012 at 8:02 AM via web

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What is the significance of the novel's statement regarding the American Dream?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 3, 2012 at 12:36 PM (Answer #1)

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Grisham's work speaks to the notion of the American Dream in a context that reveals its dark side.  There is the materialism present in the firm's enlistment and retaining of lawyers that fulfills some aspect of the American Dream.  The firm's lawyers work overtime, devote themselves to the task at hand with intense diligence, but do so with an extreme monetary payoff at the end of the day.  The American Dream is present to this end in that one works hard and receives financial benefit.  Adding to this that the makeup of the lawyers' background like Mitch and Avery represents humble beginnings helps to bring this out.  Yet, the novel displays how this is a pursuit rooted in something overall devious.  The American Dream of financial success and prestige is twisted in displaying how the firm channels the lawyer's efforts towards dark ends and sinister actions.  This vision of the American Dream rewards loyalty in money, ensures silence and compliance so long as the payoff is present.  It is significant because the novel brings to light how the American Dream, taken at its own without any questioning or examination, can demonstrate how individuals can gain greatly, but still lose their own sense of voice or identity.  It is to this end where I think that the novel's statement about the American Dream is a significant one, detailing its potential dark side out of what is initially seen as good and pure.

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