The American Dream is the ideal that anyone who lives in the United States can achieve a meaningful life and meet all of his or her needs through hard work and determination. "Of Mice and Men" and "Winter Dreams" address this theme directly, albeit in different ways. "Of Mice and Men" tells the story of two migrant workers who buy into the American dream, while "Winters Dream" tells of a young man named Dexter who is faced with the death of his own, more specific American dream.
1. How does the quest for this dream shape the lives of Americans today?
The American dream may have changed since the era of the Great Depression, but it still shapes the lives of all Americans. The American Dream is what fuels people to devote their lives to the pursuit of education and a career, through which they hope to achieve relative economic stability and the ability to live freely and pursue their interests.
2. Is the dream alive today, and is it even possible to achieve?
The ability to achieve the American dream is dependent upon both the protection of freedoms by the government and economic stability. The 2008 recession and housing market crash resulted in the perceived loss of the American dream for many citizens and immigrants alike, but economic recovery has led to a resurgence in believe in the American dream today. For many, the lavish American dream of the pre-Depression era in the 1920s is no longer a reality. Today's American dream has shifted to more moderate terms for most people, but it is still alive and well.
3. Or is this dream just a reminder of what once was or can never be?
Whether this dream is possible to achieve is a matter of perspective, but as long as Americans maintain the basic freedoms of speech and the ability to earn a living through honest work, the dream will always be possible to achieve, if improbable. Like George in "Of Mice and Men," many Americans have been forced to re-evaluate their ideas of what it means to be free and successful in America. Like Dexter, many are forced to abandon idealistic dreams of perfection and youthful naivete, but with that abandonment comes perspective.
As Dexter realized that his own American dream was unrealistic, modern Americans are often forced to determine which qualities and achievements are truly fundamental to the American dream. Living in a mansion and driving expensive cars may not be a feasible American dream for everyone, but it is always the prerogative of the next generation to improve upon the American dream of their predecessors and redefine it in terms of the qualities that are most important to them. As long as people continue to think about the American dream and work earnestly towards achieving it, it will always be possible.