How is the American Dream evident in A Soldier's Play?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The American Dream is an essential part of Fuller's drama. The American Dream is rooted in the idea that people who embrace it do so for a better life.  There is a faith in progress in the American Dream. The drama shows the hope that is a part of this dream, something that compels individuals to strive and struggle for that which is better either for themselves or for others.  In this light, the American Dream looms large in the drama.  

In many respects, a case can be made for Sergeant Waters embodies the American Dream.  He wishes that his children would go farther and do better in large part due to his sacrifices.  In wanting more for them than what he had experienced, Waters embodies the American Dream.  Additionally, Waters' hopes for Black soldiers in the White American army represents an element of the American Dream in that he truly wishes for them to compete and be accepted by White society.  Waters is so consumed with the belief that the American Dream can be achieved, one of acceptance at all costs, that he mistreats fellow Black soldiers that he believes cannot withstand the pressure of needing to be accepted.  Waters is blinded by this, to a point where he alienates and denies the solidarity that so many of his soldiers need.

Another example of the American Dream would be Davenport, himself.  Captain Davenport believes that justice can be done and that through his own due diligence, the truth can be discovered.  Captain Davenport's commitment to the legal system and adhere to his own work ethic are the ingredients he believes essential in achieving justice and finding the truth.  He does not accept the social barriers or limitations that might prevent such a pursuit.  He believes they can be overcome.  This faith in process and product is another part of the American Dream.

To an extent, the lives of the Black soldiers can represent the American Dream.  The desire to succeed in the baseball game against the White soldiers' is one such example.  The Black soldiers endure so much in order to find some level of acceptance and success.  These notions of sacrifice and the belief that hardship will eventually be seen in the return of rewards is where the American Dream can be seen in their own existence.  They suffer and sacrifice for some benefit.  With the ending that the company was killed in a German advance, the American Dream seems to be deferred for what they endured.