The America Dream is defined in general as a dream of a land that is better richer for everyone based on accomplishment and opportunity. This dream is usually sought after by people who have been deprived of their social and human values. People who have not been able to achieve this dream based on restrictions of their situations that plague their lives. These situations can be different for everyone, race, sex, handicap, etc. My question is this goal obtainable? To me there is one thing that powers this dream a desire to be of higher class, socially and financially. The one thing that drives this monster concept of the American dream has always been around since the beginning of time.
In "The Lost Beautiful ness" by An zia Yezierska and "The Gilded Six-Bits" by Zora Neale Hurston this power is the source of main conflict in these stories. Money it all comes down to money, no matter what you think the American dream is the true definition is money. Money plays the biggest role in society no matter where you are, you either have it or you don't. People come to America because it is the richest country in the world. In my comparison of these stories you will see what money does to cause conflict with Hanneh Hayyeh and Joe.
The American dream can be categorized into many definitions, but behind them all one thing stands MONEY. There are similarities when comparing these two stories, similarities that go back to the main problem with the American dream "money." Both Hanneh and Joe wanted a piece of the pie. They both wanted to feel like the upper class weather it was a painted white kitchen or gold teeth. Hanneh's urge to be like the upper class is shown through this quote: "it had been Hanneh Hayyeh's ambition to have a white-painted kitchen exactly like that in the old Stuyvesant Square mansion" (Yezierska 1253). This urge to be like Mrs. Preston was pushed by money; she wanted to have a white kitchen like the one in the mansion.
Hanneh had the American dream on her mind; she wanted to have something to prove. Hanneh wanted to prove to everyone that a Russian immigrant could also have the American dream to have money and nice things. All that Hanneh wanted to do was to have something nice for her son, something that he could come home and enjoy after being at war for so long. Although after painting her kitchen white you think that Hanneh had some money, but in fact she didn't. Hanneh had been saving up money from the extra washing that she had been doing. This drive for her to feel like an American was drove from money.
This ultimately put her on the street after her landlord saw the good work that she did. Money the landlord knew he could charge extra because the apartment was now in much better shape. In "The Gilded Six-Bits" Joe, sees himself in a similar situation which involved money. Joe had met a man by the name of Otis D.
Slemmons who had opened up an ice cream parlor down the street. Joe was quite impressed of the heavy set man with hit gold teeth. Joe was talking about the man's big gut in quote: "All rich men's is got some belly on 'em." (Hurston 1521). Joe wanted the dream so bad that he even wanted a gut because all rich men had them. This shows how money influences people to do whatever they can to make themselves higher in society.
The American dream is all about money, money is opportunity and money is accomplishment. Joe was also later devastated by this monster of a dream, when he caught Otis in bed with his wife. Is this what the dream is about tearing down everything you worked hard for all your life? Did Hanneh really dream of being thrown into the street? Did Joe really dream of a big fat rich man sleeping with his wife? In the end the power that both drove these people to realize what the American dream is was money. They both wanted money and they both dreamed of money, and in the end it got the best of Hanneh and Joe. The similarities between Hanneh and Joe arise in another point that I want to make. This point also leads back to The American dream of money.
Both Hanneh and Joe wanted this dream for their family. Hanneh wanted to do anything for her son Aby, and Joe would have done anything for Missie May. Hanneh had been awaiting the arrival of her son from the war; she had painted her kitchen and was proud of it. Hanneh had put her heart into this project for one main purpose "Aby." In quote: "This I done in honor for my son.
I want him to be able to invite even the President from America to his home and shame himself." (Yezierska 1253). Hanneh wanted her son to feel like a real American one that could have this dream to do anything. Joe also wanted these things for his family he wanted Missie to be happy. You can see how much Joe loves Missie and how much he would do for her. After Missie was talking about Joe he said quote:" You jews's ay dat cause you love me, but Ah know Ah can't hold no light to Otis D.
Slemmons. Ah ain't never been nowhere and Ah ain't got nothing' but you." (Hurston 1521). Joe knows he doesn't have any money but he does know that if he did Missie would love him forever. Both Joe and Hanneh wanted this American dream for their family. The American dream is being rich and providing for your family, which is all driven by the power of money.
In both situations if you had money they would not be worrying about these things. If Joe had had plenty of money Missie would be happy with him. If Hanneh lived in a mansion she would not worry about her son coming home to a dump. So the American dream for both Hanneh and Joe is the well being financial wise for their family. There are few differences between Hanneh and Joe when it comes to going after the American Dream. Hanneh didn't just dream about having a kitchen like Mrs.
Preston's she actually saved all of her money and did the hard work. She was an immigrant from Russia who almost wanted the dream to much. She did so in a na " ive manner, by showing off her hard earned work. When it comes down to having things and keeping them it's a dog eat dog world. She did not realize this, that your dreams can be shattered in a matter of seconds.
You can see her anger of the things happening to her when she gets scammed in this quote: "They are the new czars from America!" (Yezierska 1259). Hanneh is angrier about not actually getting to live her dream. By this I mean that she puts forth the hard work and wants something in return, but by being na " ive to what really goes on gets her knocked out on the street. Joe on the other hand is more laid back by his approach to the American dream; to him it really is a dream. Joe knows he has nothing but Missie and this is fine by him. Joe really didn't go after the dream, he just dreamed about it.
Joe wanted to be like Otis, but what Joe didn't know was Otis was just like him. They were both the same, it was just Otis was a good actor and Joe was his audience. It shows how Joe is so gullible in this quote: "Joe, Ah hates to see you so dumb. Dat stray nigger jews' tell y'all anything and y'all b'live it." (Hurston 1521). Both Joe and Hanneh wanted this dream, but both got tricked by the same dream that they sought for. They were eluded to think that it was worth everything and got tricked in return.
Hanneh though lost everything and thrown onto the street, Joe lost the only thing he lived for his pride of Missie. In conclusion The American Dream for Hanneh and Joe were both plagued by the one thing they didn't have, money. Money stands in the way of many things for many people. You have to have money to make money, and you need to be someone to know someone. Hanneh and Joe had many more similarities than differences "in my opinion." They both wanted to be rich and have things that only the upper class can have.
The American dream for both of them was to be something that they were not; I used these two characters from these two stories because I believe that they got cheated in the same way. They both wanted so bad for people to respect them and to maybe get a piece of that dream pie. In the end the American dream is not a dream, it is a classification of the wealthy the higher class. This dream will always be sought after by the little man, and will always be true for the rich man.
Hanneh and Joe are prime examples of the outcome of dreaming. I guess if you want money you have to dream.