In order to understand American culture, one must have knowledge of the history of our country. America is traditionally a country of immigrants. Very few people today have ancestors who were natives in this land. Even our founding fathers fled to America many because of religious persecution, and a few who were just looking to start a new life on the exciting untouched frontier. During the hundreds of years to come, America was seen as a land of opportunity, and people from all over the world moved there; some in large groups, and some all by themselves. This history of immigration to America has greatly shaped our culture. Instead of having one basic set of customs and beliefs, our country has so many that there are no dominant viewpoints. We are like a melting pot in some ways, and a tossed salad in other ways. Each immigrant brings some of his homeland's culture with him, and some parts of his culture will melt with others, and some will stay intact (like all of the different pieces of a salad). I think this is why the French and English responses to individualism were different. In America an individualist is not afraid to have his own culture, and not mold himself to Pop culture which is a big factor on the lives of young Americans.
As I mentioned before, immigrants saw America as a land of opportunity, and in America we still hold onto the belief that no matter how poor a person is, they can always work to a higher position in life. It doesn't matter who you are, it only matters that you work hard, persistently, and efficiently. Efficiency is another important value to Americans, who have recently become obsessed with speed. We are a very fast paced culture who loves to have plenty of fast-food stores, quick internet shopping available and instant messenger.
The American Expectation and Immigrant Response
Immigrants often had a difficult and complicated experience when adjusting to life in America. Immigrant families had to find ways to adapt to American society. In some cases immigrants found it necessary to challenge American society. Immigrant ideals were challenged by American values that were pushed on them. Due to these as well as other hardships, immigrants from all walks of life living in America had a genuinely arduous task in adjusting to American life.
One of the many hardships immigrants had to overcome was that of appalling living conditions. They did not make enough wages to afford anything remotely close to comfortable living. However, as Jacob Riis states, this does not corrupt immigrants, however it "is a powerful argument for the optimist's belief that the world is, after all, growing better…" Immigrants use their poor living conditions not as an excuse but as a lightning rod for growth and expansion. They use it as a way to better themselves because they started from the bottom and are working their way up. This challenged American ideals because the majority of Americans did not think it was possible for people to cross social or economic boundaries. Americans also especially did not want the immigrant population to do so because Americans did not see immigrants...
Some people might agree that the American dream still exists, while others don’t or they have different beliefs. The American dream is one of the most controversial themes in the United States. I totally agree that the American Dream is still on, though we need to work a little more to make it happen. I recently read a quote by Senator John Kerry that relates two articles that I have read in the past about the American dream: “We believe that what matters most is not narrow appeals masquerading as values, but the shared values that show the true face of America; not narrow values that divide us, but the shared values that unite us: family, faith, recognition, hard work, good government, opportunity, and responsibility for all, so that every child, every adult, every parent, every worker in America has an equal shot at living up to their God-given potential. That is the American dream and the American value.” The first article is called “Is the American Dream Over?” by Cal Thomas. This talks about interesting ways of how to make this country a little better but with some kind of rules with which I agree. The other article is called “The American Dream: Dead, Alive, or on Hold?” by Brandon King, which also talks about the American dream and the dramatic differences in social class which are breaking up America. Themes such as responsibility,...
...There are few films that achieve the high level of quality exhibited by that of the 1990 beautiful tragedy, American Beauty. The film is a true masterpiece in both content and how this content is delivered to the viewers. It excels at being an enlightening and relevant drama about American life, and never fails to keep the audience entertained by providing many instances of well-placed humor. Every scene is filmed including metaphoric elements that not only show great stylistic and aesthetics, but also create a mood and feeling for the theme of the movie.
American Beauty, directed by Sam Mendes, is a film that is set in suburban America, in a normal neighbourhood, following the everyday life of the central protagonist, Lester Burnham, who is living the typical ‘American Dream’. He appears to have a great job, big house, loving wife and daughter and even a white picket fence. However, all is not as it seems as appearance can often be deceiving; if we just “look closer”, we as audience members soon see that he realises both his wife, over bearing and controlling Carolyn and jaded teenage daughter, Jane think that, in the words of Jane, he is “this gigantic loser” and they’re right. The character of Lester is initially portrayed as a depressed, sad and lonely forty-year-old man, deprived of freedom and struggling to find anything worth living for. However as the film progresses Lester’s persona as a character is...
AP Language and Composition Period 6
10 March 2013
American Dream: The Idea that Pervades Society
The American dream is the longing of success that means a happy family and equal opportunity to go from rags to riches, through hard work. This idea is scene in a lot of places. On the picture by Margaret White, the poster proclaims: World’s Highest Standard of Living-There is no way like the American Way”. Or the headline of the newspaper story is “The American Dream, the subtitle is Doing Well by Doing Good.” Examples of the American dream are almost invisible when looking at average Americans. In the photograph, there are hungry people carrying buckets. None of them are white and none of them look remotely happy in front of the camera. This shows how not everyone can live the American Dream especially if they are barely getting by. Immigrants also failed to reach the American dream for reasons like not being able to speak English and lack of resources. Having a happy family is not easy either. There is lots of conflict at home over the dinner table and no time for American adults to have fun once they have kids. It is unrealistic to expect fun when there is housework, bills to pay, and more. Although it sounds good, it is a negative force in our society because it is just too good to be true.
...Willy Loman : The Tragedy of the American Dream
Prosperity, job security, hard work and family union are some of the concepts that involve the American Dream, generally speaking. Some people think this dream is something automatically granted; or in contrast, as in the story "Death of a Salesman" written by Arthur Miller, as something that has to be achieved in order to be successful in life. The play takes issues with those in America who place too much stress on material gain, instead of more admirable values. American society is exemplified with Miller's work and demonstrates how a dream could turn into a nightmare. Arthur Miller's, "Death of a Salesman", is a play that portrays the author's life and the psychological problems that brings the collapse of the American Dream for this in a lower-middle family in an economical depression.
There are two Willy Lomans in this play: the financially burdened and emotionally exhausted man in his sixties, near the end of his life, and there is the more confident, vigorous Willy Loman of some fifteen years before, who appears in flashbacks in the story.
Moreover, the psychological view of Willy Loman is shown as a person who works as a traveling salesman and decides to commit suicide because the "American Dream" overwhelms him. As Charley says in the story: "the only thing you got in this world is what you can sell". He is a normal person who...
...indigenous people of the Americas and to justify the genocide that they incurred, it has amassed an enormous contingency of followers throughout the region, because of both force and the promise of salvation. Catholicism itself has experienced a turbulent past in the region, but manages to maintain a powerful grasp on the 95% of the population that follow it. However, as significant as Catholicism has been in the development of Latin Americanculture, there exist other religions that are proving to be a challenge to the rigidity of its customs, creating a scenario in which Catholicism has to fight for support for the first time in hundreds of years. Santeria, Yoruba, Umbanda, and Candomblé are all different religions that have roots in Africa and, through syncretic practices, have evolved into a popular and powerful part of Latin Americanculture. Whereas Catholicism has traditionally required Latin Americans to conform to its specifications, Candomblé, Santeria, Yoruba, and Umbanda have all evolved to fit pre-existing Latin American customs and culture. It hasn’t required that they change, but has changed for them. Because of this phenomenon, the Catholic Church is finally having to accommodate for its followers instead of the other way around in order to maintain its following in the region. This birth of the new idea of “liberation theology” has transformed the role the...
...Latin American Working Women
Since the beginning of time women have been seen as a lower form of a person and were denied rights for many years. It was not until 1848 that 68 women and 32 men signed a Declaration of Sentiments, which demanded equality with men before the law in education, employment and that women would be given the right to vote. Although women were allowed to work they were not treated or paid equal wage as the men were. It was not until 1963 that John F. Kennedy passed and signed the Equal Pay Act. The Equal Pay Act required private employers to give both men and women equal pay for equal work.
Thanks to women’s rights, women are no longer limited on the jobs they could do. Before they were ever allowed to work in any job they wanted, women were viewed as the centre and basis of social and cultural life of the family. The traditional way of thinking at that time was that man, were for the field and women for the home. Unfortunately for the Latin American families this is still the way women are viewed.
The male is still the dominant in the household and provides for the family and the female makes sure to bring up the children, cook, clean and care for every family member with her love. When analyzing what is stated in the previous paragraph, women have actually been working sense the beginning but many have failed to realize it because the women were not being paid for what they did because it was seen as their...
Latin American Studies
December 8, 2011
Prompt # 1
Through U.S foreign policy, Latin American countries have been affected both positively and negatively. However, they have been primarily affected negatively by neoliberalism and polyarchy rather than positively. Due to the exploitation of Latin American lands and people, many Latino/as created resistance in both the United States and their home countries. With the foreign policies enforced in Latin American countries, it allows the United States to grow with the price of exploiting and hurting Latin America and its people. Explicitly neoliberalism and polyarchy promotion affects Latin American in a less than positive way, causing ramifications on Latinos in the U.S. and in the countries themselves.
Neoliberal globalization can be closely defined as a commercial conquest of more and more land. As the United States begins to take over more and more land, they begin to spread their way of thinking and acting in terms of industrial use. Neoliberal globalization affects Latin American in 3 ways; by reducing government participation in the economy, deregulation, and free trade liberalization. The first way that globalization is affecting Latin America is by reducing government participation in the economy. By doing so, this allows a decrease in public spending and privatization of public services and enterprises. The second...