What Does It Mean to Be American. Great Gatsby Essay Sample.

Published: 2019-09-02
What Does It Mean to Be American. Great Gatsby Essay Sample.
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  American dream The Great Gatsby
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1764 words
15 min read

America has always been described to be a unique country due to its unique heritage, values, and ideologies, upon which the country was formed and governed. Such aspects have made people, globally to reference on America on how to define their dreams when it comes to leading an appealing and a successful life. Different texts by different authors have since been written, describing the American dream. Such texts are essential especially when it comes to understanding what it means to be an American. Initially, being an American meant having hopes for the better future as well as leading a comfortable life that is enhanced by myriad opportunities that are thought to be in plenty supply in America. This characterized an American dream, which was considered to be an emblem of America as a nation. However, the country has since experienced changes in its governance and culture which have made the American dream to be skeptical. It can, therefore, be contended that American dream is no longer as strong as it used to be when it comes to defining what being an American means.

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Apparently, being an American means that one can attain success in life irrespective of the family background as well as social status in the society. The rich heritage of America suggests that through hard work, determination and focus, an individual can achieve his/her dreams. Historically, there are various figures in America who rose above the expectations of many and ended up achieving the success that left many in disbelieve. The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald is the novel that can be used to attest the claim that America is a land of opportunities and that Americans can become successful regardless of their social, political and economic backgrounds. For instance, despite having underprivileged past, Gatsby overcomes all obstacles along his way to becoming a wealthy man in America. Gatsby is used by Fitzgerald to indicate that self-made success is a reality in America (Fitzgerald 36). Gatsby leads a life that can be likened to the upper-class citizens. Gatsby and Nick are previous fighters in the World War One. The luxurious parties that Gatsby hold depict a person who has climbed the social ladder.

In the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville came up with the description of the American political culture that was supposed to make America, not only a peculiar nation but also a pleasant place to live. Alexis identified Liberty, equality, democracy, individualism, capitalism and capitalism as the essential elements that propel Americans to great heights (Powell 5). Apparently, American political puts much emphasis on the hard work as the crucial recipe for a prosperous nation. For instance, capitalism fosters free trade which allows businesses and other corporations to thrive with little government involvement. The history of the American economy is largely dependent on the adoption of the capitalist economy that has led to the huge accumulation of wealth as the nation.

America boasts of credible and well-established institutions that have been integral when helping its citizens achieve their American dream. The rich heritage of America is depicted in institutions such as schools, laws, courts, the presidency and all arms of government (Nicholas 2). These pillars are vital in enhancing and improving the living standard of Americans. Through such institutions, Americans have been able to see beyond ethnicity and other social problems that can obstruct their dreams. However, the dynamic nature of the American society has led to emerging problems that can be viewed as a threat many Americans who harbor hopes of achieving their American dream. Corruption and other elements of social injustices have affected these institutions adversely. These challenges are huge stumbling blocks for many Americans with the hopes of the better tomorrow.

Being an American might mean living an affluent life that is characterized by posh cars, merrymaking, and a general luxurious life. In the novel; The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses different characters to outline this nation. This aspect has led to the division of the American society into classes: the high, middle and lower classes. Those in the high class are the ones leading a comfortable and fulfilled life as far as economic factors are concerned. Those in the middle classes are leading an average life. They are not comfortable with their current economic and social status. This motivates them to work harder in order to move to the high-class citizens. Gatsby is one of the characters that epitomizes the struggles that middle-class Americans face in their pursuit to becoming high-class citizens.

After the World War One, Gatsby comes back and start enjoying affluent life. He owns expensive cars (Rolls-Royce) as well as servants who work for him. Every Friday five crates of oranges and lemons arrived from a fruiterer in New Yorkevery Monday these same oranges and lemons left his back door in a pyramid of pulpless halves.(Fitzgerald 43). This scenario gives the vivid picture of the life of the high-class Americans. In order to live their American dream, they embark on possessing luxurious commodities as well as having all comforts of life which include foods and other commodities that are meant to improve their living standards. However, as the rich continue leading a life full of comforts, the poor people continue languishing in poverty and hard life.

For instance, while Gatsby continues partying on every Fridays at his home, eight servants including an extra gardener toiled all day with mops and scrubbing-brushes and hammers and garden-shears, repairing the ravages of the night before (Fitzgerald 43). It follows that whereas the rich people in the American society enjoy their life (having well-paying jobs that have favorable working conditions), the poor have to settle for less-paying jobs that do not have favorable working conditions.

America is a targeted nation when it comes to terror attacks. Apparently, Americas foreign policies have not been well received by countries from the Middle East such Afghanistan, Iraq Syria. In order to protect its citizens, American government, through its foreign policies, embarked on combating terror groups such as Taliban and Al Qaeda through the war with the countries that support such terror groups. It is through Americas war on terror that has made it be disliked in the Middle East countries who feel America is trying to control them. In her letter, Margaret thinks America has lost her way when it comes to the war on Terror (Margaret 2). In this letter, it is alleged that the country has concentrated on foreign security at the expense of domestic security. It is though that America is gutting constitution since back home, an enemy can easily enter the U.S. borders without the being detected.

The privacy and some rights of the Americans are also being infringed. Due to the surveillance installed by the federal government, various American citizens are always spied on, monitored and even profiled. This limits their freedom of movement and the free will of doing what they desire due to the fear of being watched. This constitutes some of the elements being addressed by Margaret in her letter to America (Margaret 2). In her letter, she alleges that in America, ones emails are monitored and scrutinized without the consent of the owner. In addition, the private files and records of the citizens are searched as part of the security profile. This has left many citizens infuriated, making others fell America has lost her way, especially in her war on terror. What used to be a country based on the ideal values and heritage, it is now characterized by the political intimidation and the fraud which has resulted from the countrys insistence on providing security and safety to its citizens.

Americans have also been blighted by the poor governance that is threatening to cripple the countrys economic growth. Instead of concentrating on improving the welfare of its citizens, the government is pilfering money to the foreign policies that are not yielding anticipated returns to the American people. The CIA funding, as well as the training of Osama Bin laden (who later became a sworn enemy of America), are examples of the foreign projects that have proved to be a burden to the Americans. These sentiments are shared by Margaret in her letter to America where she is lamenting that the economy of America is being torched by poor tactics embraced by those in the management of the country (Margaret 2). This has led to the insinuations that once America is unable to produce some commodities by themselves, they will end up grabbing those commodities produced by others.

Some of the economic analysts allege that America is no longer a land of opportunity as it used to be. There are some elements in the American economy that point out that there are only a few people who are realizing an American dream. Some of the drawbacks such as escalating rates of unemployment, dwindling economy and the ever increasing inequalities have shuttered the hopes of some of the Americans from living an American dream. In his book, Joseph Stilglitz reasons that, is no longer the land of opportunity and the American Dream is a myth (Turak 2). From the economic statistics, it is pointed out that the gap between the poor and the rich the poor is getting bigger and bigger. This means that the opportunities are only favoring the rich and the not the poor people in the American society. This implies that life is unbearable for those American citizens who are poor as compared to the rich. It follows that in order for the entire American population to realize and live the American dream, the issues of the unemployment and inequalities in the economy should be addressed amicably.

Initially, the American dream was the point of reference for every American who harbored hopes of the better future. Despite the historical and ethnicity restrictions that many Americans faced, they were still motivated to work hard to overcome challenges in their lives. In the recent times, it has been noted that the governance and the socio-cultural dynamism of America have led to the emergence of skepticism on the American dream. It implies that being an America is no longer an ideal situation as it used to be but more rather full of struggles and uncertainties.


Atwood, Margaret. "Letter to America." The Nation (2003): 2-3. print.

Fitzgerald, Scott. THE GREAT GATSBY. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925. Print.

Krist, Nicholas. "Big Government Looks Great When There Is None." (2016): 1-3. print.

Powell, Jim. "Alexis de Tocqueville: How People Gain Liberty and Lose It." 2-9 (1996). web.

Turak, August. "Is The American Dream Dead? The Four Inconvenient Truths Behind Income Inequality." Forbes (2012): 2-8. Web.

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