Compare the American Dream theme in The Great Gatsby to the American Dream theme in Obama's 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention.

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The American Dream in both Obama's speech and The Great Gatsby can be seen as something that is attainable through "faith" and hard work. 

In the novel Jay Gatz works hard to overcome his very poor beginnings as a farmer and become the "tycoon" that he is as Jay Gatsby. No matter how dubious his path might have been to get there, we understand that Gatz worked hard and long to get where he is as Gatsby and to be so incredibly successful. He represents the American Dream because he stands in stark contrast to the Tom and Daisy Buchanans of the world who come from old money and do not have to work in order to be rich and live a life of comfort and success. Their world has been handed to them and therefore does not qualify as the American Dream attained. 

Barack Obama's 2004 speech celebrates those who put "faith" in merit, "simple dreams," "small miracles" and hard work in order to accomplish what might seem impossible (him later being elected President was considered to be a fulfillment by many of the American Dream!). Those who risk everything to rise above their own humble beginnings have earned that American dream.

   That is the true genius of America, a faith ... a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles; that we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm; that we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door; that we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe; that we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution; and that our votes will be counted -- or at least, most of the time.
   This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forebearers and the premise of future generations. (Obama, 2004)

The American Dream is significant for a number of reasons, but one significant reason that is seen in both the novel and Obama's 2004 speech is that, in order to obtain the American Dream, one must have faith and work for it. 

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The limitless possibilities of the American Dream is one comparison between Senator Obama's 2004 speech and The Great Gatsby.

The stories of Barack Obama's father and Jay Gatsby are similar in that both began poor.  Born in rural America to poor farmers, James Gatz had a strong dislike for poverty.  It left a lasting imprint on his identity.  This drives him to remake his identity as Jay Gatsby. Learning from Dan Cody's criminal self-made ways, Gatsby acquires wealth beyond measure, starting with very little and attaining a great deal.  

The opening to Senator Obama's speech focuses on life in Africa for Obama's grandfather, who was a "domestic servant."  Obama says that his grandfather held the "larger dreams for his son" that incorporated the limitless possibilities of the American Dream realized through education. Sent from Kenya to America to be educated, Obama's own father rose above the level of Obama's grandfather: "Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that's shown as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before him."  Because of his grandfather's hard work, diligent savings and private dream, Obama's father, like Gatsby, began with little and attained much.  Obama's mom and dad envisioned the same for their son:

My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or "blessed," believing that in a tolerant America, your name is no barrier to success.

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