- May 20, 2020
TheAmerican Dream is a vision of homeland where everybody can enjoy lifeby acquiring a good education, better healthcare, and lifestylesdepending on the opportunities that each can achieve. The AmericanDream also targets to have a flourishing economy to support allpeople with distinct cultures, religion, and color living in America.However, it is the role of local, state, and federal governments toensure that everyone is protected under the law. Different CivilRights were amended to protect American citizens from racism, sexualabuse, and employment discrimination among others. In TheirEyes Were Watching God,written by Zora Neale Hurston, Janie realized her selfhood and anatural union with another in an era when black women were forced toacknowledge the traditional expectations of womanhood which involvedbeing both confining and submissive. In response to the AmericanDream, I support that Janie’s story portrays much about it asdescribed in the rest of the paper.
Accordingto the history of the American Dream, the declaration of rights wasonly extended to the white wealth-owners, but later the great lawswere enacted to extend the rights to the slaves, non-property ownersand women. Many American Presidents supported the idea of equalopportunity for all people including slaves, women, and NativeAmerican tribes. For example, President Wilson introduced votingrights for women during his reign in 1918. Marriage contracts wereconsidered to be of legal benefits by President Obama, despite thesexual orientation. According to the novel, Their Eyes Were WatchingGod, women were expected respect their husband at all time and had nopower to head the family. They were regarded as the housewives totake care of their family. However, Janie goes against beingdiscriminated by men through traditional customs.
Janie,a black woman, was impetuous, headstrong and outspoken to all mattersconcerning marriage and love. Janie got married to her first husband,Logan Killicks. In the beginning, he was treating her very well sothat she could obey him in agreement with the cultural values.However, Janie refused to act like a servant to him as narrated“kissin` yo` foot,” and ran away when Logan threatened to killher (Hurston, p. 25). In my view, Janie separated with her firsthusband because she had not chosen him to be her husband, but thatwas her grandmother’s decision. She got married to her secondhusband Joe Starks whom she desired. Janie expected a happy marriagewhich did not happen. Joe still adhered to gender roles where Janiewas not supposed to argue with him on anything. The relationshipbecame rocky, but unfortunately, Joe died, and Janie was left alone.Janie later married to her last husband Tea Cake.
Consideringthe three marriages, it was the fulfillment of Obama legal amendmentsconcerning marriage contracts. In American Dream, the thingsconsequently changed as depicted by Janie’s act of refusing tofollow traditional customs of marriage and advocated for a change.The author, Hurston supports this by stating that “Love is lak desea . . . it`s different with every shore”, illustrating the reasonwhy Janie flee from marriages (Hurston, p. 78). She desired forgender equality in marriage which is a clause of the American Dream.The women should be given equal opportunities as men in leadershipand employment to achieve the Dream. It is currently revealed inAmerica because some women hold leadership positions either in civilservants or political positions. Hillary Clinton also contested as apresidential candidate in the United States, portraying that thereare no limitations for women to rule.
Inthe American Dream, the forefathers had the vision that everyindividual had an equal chance and right to life, quest for happinessand liberty. The Right is protected under the federal law. Itconsiders all types of lifestyles provided they bring joy toeveryone. It offers equal opportunity so that everyone can pursue hisor her personal vision to live a happy life. After the death of Joe,Janie lived happily while staying single until she met Tea Cake. TeaCake was younger than her by 12 years, although she found true lovefrom him (Hurston, p. 155). They were jealous of each other, butcoped up with the situation by moving to Everglades for work andmingled with the other migrant employees.
Itis clear portrayal that living a happy life depends on individual’sdecisions and same case apply to the whole nation or state. Theleaders should be at the frontline in ensuring citizens live happilyin a peaceful country. For instance, President Roosevelt introducedan Economic Bill of Rights that define the quest for happiness ashaving proper healthcare, good housing, decent housing and goodeducation. President Roosevelt aimed to prevent sick, hungry andhomeless people from engaging in Socialism, Nazism and Communism.Obama also extended by providing good healthcare to the people.
InAmerican dream, it is somehow considered to be dead. The UnitedStates have been experiencing a recession. Since 2008, the U.S.experiences a high rate of unemployment that even led tounderemployment. The cost of housing, healthcare and educationincreased at a faster rate than income, and it became difficult toachieve middle-class lifestyles. According to Janie’s story, ahurricane occurred where the couple was living, and while they werefleeing away, Tea was bitten by the dog that was attacking Janie. TeaCake was contracted with rabies and became mad where at some momenthe tried to kill Janie (Hurston, p. 172). It was in this scenariothat Janie shot her husband as self-defense. She was put on trialwith a murder case, but was later set free. It coincides with thediscussed scenario of the American dream that everything is notachieved as expected. For example, it was not the wish of Janie tokill Tea, but circumstances forced her.
Americanswere hopeless about the American Dream even before the recessionoccurred. A survey conducted in 2004 found that almost two-thirds ofthe population considered it harder to achieve the Dream. The youngfamilies were most affected and complained about the government, poorquality education and financial insecurity. I can relate this to aquote in the Their Eyes Were Watching God, where Lulu Moss commentedthat “She sits high, but she looks low” referring to Janie(Hurston, p. 185). Janie was impetuous, headstrong and outspoken inher marriages, but accepted the situation after getting married toTea Cake and became a real woman. The same case applies to theAmericans who complained about various issues. They should accept thesituation and try to find alternatives or solutions for the problems.At times, America engaged in to Civil War during the WWI and WWIItrying to attain the global peace for all people. During thesemoments many innocent people died, but after that, many growths anddevelopments followed across the world.
Thenew American Dream seems to go back to Socialism, Nazism andCommunism because the aspect of materialism is unsustainable forpeople are unemployed. Banks are lending fewer loans influencing thepeople to depend on each other. They opt to rely on each otherinstead of the government. In the novel, Janie’s Nanny planned forher to get married to Logan for economic security and protectionreasons as stated: “buy and sell such as them.” It turned to be anightmare because Janie ran away after a short period of gettingmarried. It is the same case for the American Dream because theAmericans are hopeless about it and have tried to find otheralternatives and solutions for their problems for a better andhappier living.
Inconclusion, the American Dream seems to have come to an end sinceAmericans are hopeless about it. It is the roles and responsibilitiesof all leaders to renew the Dream again and become a reality infuture. The leaders can do this by increasing the middle-incomeearnings. According to Hillary Clinton, she had proposed threepolicies including boosting the economic growth, creating moderategrowth and supporting the long-term growth if she managed to becomethe U.S. President. The story of Janie interrelates well with theAmerican Dream. Janie desired for better and happier life, whichsometimes failed to be accomplished. Janie persevered throughoutuntil she met Tea Cake, her best lover. It depicts that there arestill hopes of achieving the American Dream despite challenges thatthe United States is passing through. It is a matter of realizing thecurrent situation, put significant measures and move forward ascompared to what Janie did in the novel.
Hurston,Zora. TheirEyes Were Watching God.New York: HarperCollins, 2009. Internet resource.