Was Butch Weldy living the American Dream in Spoon River Anthology?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Butch Weldy was absolutely not living the American Dream. His attempt to utilize freedom to achieve happiness and success ended up in crime, lies, and personal tragedy for himself. In his monologue, he says he "got religion." This implies that he saw the error of his ways and made positive changes in his life. However, the majority of events alluded to in the anthology paint a picture of a flawed man with quite immoral actions. 

In Minerva Jones' monologue, she claims that she was mocked by the "Yahoos" and that Butch "Captured me after a brutal hunt." This indicates sexual assault or even rape. She is left to the care of Doctor Meyers and she dies in an abortion attempt. 

In another instance, Blind Jack, Butch, and Jack McGuire are in a carriage on the way home from the county fair. (This is from Blind Jack's monologue.) Butch and Jack McGuire are whipping the horses too fervently and the carriage goes out of control. Blind Jack, fiddling away, is thrown from the carriage and this results in his death. So, Butch indirectly causes Blind Jack's death as well. 

After Butch "gets religion," he is blinded in a factory accident. He would receive no compensation for his injuries. Butch would also serve on a jury that would wrongly convict Roy Butler of a rape he did not commit. Butch's life is marked by violence and bad/immoral decisions. 

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Spoon River Anthology

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