Response 5

Woroud Shuaib
Professor Steven Alvarez
English 255
12 May 2012

A Struggle for the American Dream: Sacrifice and Adversity in William Carlos William’s “Apology”, “Libertad! Igualdad! Fraternidad! and José Luis González’s The Night We Became People Again.

In this paper I am going to write about The American Dream and how it has given false hope to Latino immigrants in New York City. It is evident that our readings have shown us that the American Dream has been otter inaccessible to Latino immigrants. Yes, they have job opportunities but the jobs are demeaning. They have been forced into an unfamiliar environment in which the established system is against them. It leads to questions such as is the American Dream a lie? Over-rated? Are they just better off staying in their native country? Through the texts we have read and videos we have watched they are probably more disadvantages then benefits and so The American Dream may just be an illusion. The texts that I will be focusing on are William Carlos Williams’ poem “Apology” and “Libertad! Igualdad! Fraternidad! Luis José González “The Night We Became People Again”, to show the struggles Latino’s face in hopes to achieve this American Dream. In addition, I plan to use Jose Marti’s “ConeyIsland”, “The Adventures of Don Chipote: A Suckers Tale” by Daniel Vengas and “Grandma Please Don’t Come” by Jesus Colon to show the realization the Latinos have after coming to the U.S. Then I will show the clip titled “Immersion” to show a specific examples of prejudice against Latino students in a school environment. In my theory section I plan to use Michael Steel’s “The Kind of Immigration Reform Americans Want” and Michael Schudson’s “American Dreams”.

Latino Immigrants Striving for a Dream
Human beings usually want the best for their family and for themselves. For most people it is essential to save up money for the future but at the same time still have money for tomorrow’s meal and other bills they may encounter. Usually many people may live in poor countries that make it almost impossible to make a living in and so they are forced to migrate. Some migrate without their families, leaving them lonely. Thus, this results these people to become immigrants and strangers to a whole new land. They hope their lives will be auspicious and this long life dream of becoming successful will one day become reality.

One specific race that usually strives for this better future after migrating from their home land is Latinos. Latino immigrants specifically come to New York and fight to feed their families back home. They try their hardest to make their families proud because going back to their native countries without a ‘successful” job conveys failure. Thus, they work their hardest to reach this Dream in where they can make all their families proud, but also make themselves proud as well.

However, unfortunately, this American Dream that many Latino immigrants strive for remains a distant dream for most.When Latino Immigrants come to New York, they usually don’t assume it will be difficult. In addition, because Latino immigrants aren’t as educated, and desperate to get any job to make money, they often get stuck with belittling jobs that require long shifts at work. Nevertheless, Latino immigrants work their hardest for the American Dream that seems unreachable and unattainable because of the demeaning jobs, language barriers, and discrimination. In this article, I will illustrate the struggles Latino immigrants face when coming to New York, specific examples of these struggles and the disappointments they have after realizing the American Dream may just be an illusion.

What is the American Dream?
Latino immigrants specifically, struggle to achieve this American Dream. They often sacrifice, and work their hardest for this dream that seems almost impossible to achieve which then leads one to question the American Dream and whether it’s over-rated and exaggerated. But before we ask ourselves these questions what exactly does the American Dream mean? Perhaps people have many thoughts about this dream but what exactly does it consist of? Michael Schudson’s article titled “American Dreams” describes this dream through his perspective. He points out that:

All people are free to pursue the dream, regardless of background, with a ‘reasonable anticipation though not the promise, of success’ through actions under their own control—and doing so is worthy of deep commitment because “true success is associated with virtue’ (Hochschild 18). The American dream is ‘the great national suggestion’ (171) that anyone, with hard work according to the rules, has a reasonable prospect of succeeding in life.

According to Schudson, he states that “all people are free’ to accomplish this dream no matter where they come from. That with hard work and dedication it may be attainable. In addition, he adds that in order for one to reach success they must have “virtue” which includes having a good trait or good intentions. As Schudson points out, the socially constructed American Dream results from a “great national suggestion”. In other words, Schudson illustrates that as a nation, we have made up the definition and with “hard work” it will result in success. Essentially, Schudson says “regardless of the background” anyone can achieve this dream. Here, one sees the reason as to why Latino immigrants come to another country for this dream. They believe that everybody no matter where one comes from can reach success and can accomplish this dream. They may hear stories of immigrants succeeding or actually seen others succeed and therefore believe that they can become successful just like them. However, Latino immigrants do not think of the demeaning jobs and situations they will encounter once they get here; the dehumanization they face and the things they sacrifice. But it seems like the Latino immigrants face more disadvantages than benefits and so the American Dream may just be an illusion or never attainable.

Evidently through our readings the American Dream has been otter inaccessible to Latino immigrants primarily because of the demeaning jobs they encounter. These demeaning jobs may include working long hours, facing discrimination, and or hard labor. They have been forced into an unfamiliar environment in which the established system goes against them. Michael Steel’s article titled “The Kind of Immigration Reform Americans Want” exemplifies this idea that Latinos struggle to strive for this dream. He states:

Like so many immigrants, Hispanic-Americans and Latinos have endured danger and hardship and sacrifice, many risking it all for a chance at the American dream. All of us are here today because we want to help unleash that dream.

Steel adds that trying to accomplish this dream has included tolerating danger and sacrificing many things. We see this many times, from Gonzales’s text titled “The Day We became People again” where the narrator leaves his life in Puerto Rico to live this American Dream. Steel uses the term “sacrifice” to show that Latinos leave their families or social status in their country to move here in order to make money and become successful. Constantly, Latino immigrants risk all they have and work long shifts to live this “American Dream”. In addition, he says that they have “endured danger”, which implies that Latinos may encounter danger because they don’t speak the language so they become a target by being picked on. Some specific examples of how Latino students get picked on by are by other students. In addition, they often don’t get the attention they need and teachers often ignore these students or do not supply them with effective materials in school. He adds that “all of us are here today because we want to unleash this dream”, which just exemplifies his point. Because most of us including immigrants of all ethnicities and Americans strive for the same things it makes it hard for people like the Latino immigrants to accomplish it. Since the language varies and so forth, the Latinos have to try even harder to be on top and we clearly have been seeing this throughout the texts.

Both these articles really explain effectively what this dream consists of and the struggles one faces trying to achieve the American Dream. Schudson believes that anyone is capable of achieving this dream; however, Steel adds that they acquire a lot of hardships that may prevent them from achieving this Dream. Although Schudson says that anyone is “free” in achieving the American Dream, steel thinks otherwise. Latino immigrants go through so much struggle and adversity that make it even harder for them to achieve this dream. Looking at Steel’s article closely I believe his article makes a fine argument. Essentially Schudson makes a valid point, everyone is free but Steel looks specifically at the Latino immigrants and the things they sacrifice and give up which makes them struggle and not become “free” anymore.

Works Cited
Schudson, Michael. “American Dreams.” American Literary History 16.3 (2004): 566-573. Project MUSE. Web. 2 May. 2012. <>

González, José Luis. “The Night We Became People Again.” Trans. KalWagenheim.The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature.Eds. IlanStavans, Edna Acosta-Belen, Harold Augenbraum, Maria Herrera-Sobek, Rolando Hinojosa, and Gustavo Perez Firmat. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2011. 740-747. Print.

Steele, Michael. “The Kind Of Immigration Reform Americans Want.” Vital Speeches Of The Day 76.7 (2010): 303-305. Academic Search Complete.Web. 2 May 2012.

Williams, William Carlos.“Apology.”The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Eds. IlanStavans, Edna Acosta-Belen, Harold Augenbraum, Maria Herrera-Sobek, Rolando Hinojosa, and Gustavo Perez Firmat. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2011. 419-420. Print.

— “Libertad!Igualdad! Fraternidad!”The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature.Eds. IlanStavans, Edna Acosta-Belen, Harold Augenbraum, Maria Herrera-Sobek, Rolando Hinojosa, and Gustavo Perez Firmat. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2011. 419. Print.

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