Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Spring 2016


“Rags to Riches”; “Home of the Free”; “Land of Opportunity.” For centuries, the idea of the American Dream has been ingrained into the ideology of many Americans in the United States and a faraway dream for those wishing to be a part of it. The idea of anyone, rich or poor, being able to freely achieve his or her dreams and pursue happiness became enticing to not only colonists coming to the New World and immigrants wishing to leave their home countries, but as the country developed, also to individuals living in the United States. The concept of the American Dream is not a new one; it was in fact introduced at the beginning of the country as Puritans were coming to the New World in 1630. On one of the Puritan ships coming to America, the Arabella, John Winthrop delivered his famous sermon “Model of Christian Charity” where he preached on the authority of God involving The Puritans’ success in the New World. Winthrop believed that it was God’s will for some to be poor and some rich, and that they would succeed if they trusted in their authorities to lead them (Morgan 145-46). This idea of success would continue to exist centuries later but on a more individual level as seen in Benjamin Franklin’s “A Way to Wealth.” Franklin was one of the United States’ Founding Fathers as well as an author who often used literature to convey ideals. Written in 1758, he talks about individual success and describes his model of a “self-made man” (546 Hornung). This literature is evidence that even from the beginning of the United States, this idea of success and individualism was formed in American culture. The American Dream was a reality all Americans strived for and believed in and it continued to be case for years to come. So embedded in American culture, the American Dream has been an underlying theme in many works in American literature. By analyzing Fitzgerald’s “Winter Dreams” Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, I will demonstrate how these authors portrayed the American Dream presenting two realities: an unattainable American Dream and a realistic one.


This paper was submitted as part of the American Literature course (ENGL 3103) taught by Professor Jennifer Pittman.