Is the pursuit of the american dream affected more by optimism or by disillusionment?i need to choose from this   first semester literature of mice and men by john steinbeck i hear america...

Is the pursuit of the american dream affected more by optimism or by disillusionment?

i need to choose from this


first semester literature

of mice and men by john steinbeck

i hear america singins by walt whitman

the story of an hour by kate chopin

richard cory by e.a. robinson

we wear the mask by p.l. dunbar

the great gatsby by f. scott fitzgerald

the catcher in the rye by j.d. salinger

second semester literature

the negro speaks of rivers by langston hughes

how it feels to be colored me by zora.n hurston

the grapes of wrath by john steinbeck

the catcher in the rye by j.d. salinger

into the woods by s. sondheim

i need help i have to choose 1 from first semester and 2 from second semester and i have no clue what it is about can somebody help me

8 Answers | Add Yours

ask996's profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

"The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin would be a good one to use for support of the American Dream and optimism. Newly widowed, the character is full of optimism for her future and a control over it that she's neve had before. The Catcher in the Rye would be a strong resource for how disillusion affects the American Dream. Tragedy has gradually eaten away at Holden's rational behavior and choices, and so he becomes more and more disillusioned with life.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Many of the works on your lists are serious examinations of disillusionment and despair. For a change of focus, you should look at Whitman's poem. "I Hear America Singing" is very upbeat, full of joy, and it includes specific references to Americans going about their lives, "singing" their own songs of individuality. The poem is full of optimism and celebrates the American experience.

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would choose Story of an Hour for its ending

Richard Cory is creepy and you will like it

Grapes of Wrath- loads of resources online

Catcher in the Rye- This one will be an easy read for you

By the way- they are all available free online

Do not purchase books, e-read it! Save a tree today!

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

"Richard Cory" has always been a favorite of mine.  No one knows him as well as they think they do, and one summer evening it's all over for him and his money.

For the second choice, the Hughes, Hurston, and Salinger pieces call to me more strongly.  I think you can understand them all and be able to relate the characters to the struggle of the American Dream.

Good Luck!

MaudlinStreet's profile pic

MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

My first choice would be The Great Gatsby. In this novel, we see the pursuit of the American Dream, as affected by both optimism and disillusionment, in the same character. Gatsby's world is dominated by his chase of Daisy, & his determination to have her for his own once again. In this case, his American Dream, as represented in the figure of Daisy, is driven by his optimism. He is so very sure that Daisy will come back to him, once she sees his wealth and extravagance. Thus, he willingly commits illegal acts to earn money, buys the house across the bay, throws elaborate parties in the hope that she will one day walk through his door. However, after the disastrous trip to New York, and the argument in the sweltering apt., he realizes his dream will never be achieved. Each action from that point is driven by his disillusionment. Allowing Daisy to drive home, waiting and watching her house, firing his servants-all these are signs of a man whose dream has been shattered before his eyes.

If I were to argue the disillusionment angle more fully, I would probably use The Catcher in the Rye. His entire journey is a result of his disgust with the society around him.

Good Luck!

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on


1) richard cory by e.a. robinson

2) the catcher in the rye by j.d. salinger

into the woods by s. sondheim

Read the poem and try to ask yourself what the characters were trying to achieve and if they achieved it. Then ask yourself by achieving what they did, did that make their lives better or worse, then you will have your answer on whether the American dream is determined by optimism or pessimism.

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