The American Dream is a very powerful force that molds America. It has existed for many generations but has it changed over time? The foundation of the Dream tends to stay the same that is the pursuit of happiness, hope, freedom, justice and equality. The concepts within the American Dream should alter to fit the changes of society. The breakthroughs and obstacles that America overcomes should shift the American Dream. Society may see the American Dream as a dangerous power causing them to be scared to challenge the concepts of the traditional American Dream.
Will society become dysfunctional if someone challenges the American Dream or will it make our country stronger and more diverse? According to James Baldwin s My Dungeon Shook: A Letter to My Nephew African Americans can not obtain their piece of the American Dream. Baldwin wrote a letter to his nephew in hope of guiding him through life. Baldwin had many words of wisdom to share, mostly words provoked by pain and anger. Baldwin wanted to teach his nephew about the cruelty of society. His main point was to teach his nephew not to believe the white man and his words.
He wanted to encourage his nephew to succeed in life but not to expect the unassailable. By believing the white man one can not succeed but by knowing where one comes from will lead to success was the foundation of Baldwin s message (243-246). When reading My Dungeon Shook: A Letter to my Nephew, it was clear that Baldwin was not just writing a letter to his nephew but to society by interacting personal thoughts with public awareness. Although Baldwin s letter was addressed to his nephew, he intended for society as a whole to be affected by it.
This innocent country set you down in a getto in which, in fact, it intended that you should parish (Baldwin 244). This is an innocent country, innocent only because they know not what they do. They discriminate the African American by expecting them to be worthless, by not giving them a chance to prove their credibility. Today African Americans are considered to be disesteemed in society. They are placed in this class before they are even born just like Royalty obtains their class before they are even conceived.
We may think that this is a paradox but when deeply thinking about African Americans and their treatment we know it is much different than that of white Americans. African Americans have to strive extremely hard to be successful and obtain a place in America. When reading Baldwin s statement it seems much like Martin Luther King Jr. statement: One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land (3). African Americans are trying to obtain their place in American society but are restricted to the area that the white Americans set aside for them.
Both Martin Luther King Jr. and James Baldwin are striving to make a difference to better America by publicly sharing their emotions. Indeed Baldwin s letter expressed public awareness but it also consisted of personal elements that only his nephew was intended to understand. You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger (Baldwin 243). This statement illustrates the pain that Baldwin feels deep inside. When a person calls someone a nigger it lowers their self-worth and causes them thoughts of despair.
The white society can be hurtful to African Americans by underestimating what they say. When someone is constantly being called a nigger they start to believe that they really are what they have always been called. When a person believes they are a nigger they lower their goals and ostracism thinking that they are not accepted and they will never be. Situations like this are hard to grasp unless one lives them like Baldwin did. The fact that Baldwin lived this situation explains why he wants to inform his nephew to beware of the ignorant people who try to destroy others by words.
Clearly Baldwin intertwines personal and public awareness but he also supports personal awareness with public awareness. Neither you nor your father exhibit any tendency toward holiness (Baldwin 243). When believing in a higher power life tends to be less challenging. A higher power will mitigate the pain that one feels. It will also grant the understanding of life s bemused details. A higher power walks beside people and guides them through life. Knowing that there is someone or something more powerful than mankind gives a sense of security and serenity.
Baldwin wanted his nephew to know that turning to a higher power leads to a healthy life. On the other hand Baldwin wanted to remind society about our creators teachings and support his lesson to his nephew. You must accept them and accept them with love (Baldwin 245). This statement was an example in which Baldwin wants to impress upon society. Father forgive them for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). Jesus told God to forgive those who intended to kill him as he was hanging on the cross in pain and misery. Jesus believed that people who did not know why they sinned deserved to live eternal life.
Jesus set an example for mankind to follow by forgiving the people who hurt him and Baldwin is trying to redeem Jesus example by forgiving the people who hurt him. Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the chains that embodies mankind. Forgiveness could be thought of as the potion that unites America and brings equality to the redeemed world. Although the American Dream is considered to be the link that binds society, there are some individuals that do not posses link to unit. The African Americans have been struggling for many years to obtain the piece of the American Dream, their place in America.
Joseph Kennedy has frustration and anger built up while trying to find his place in America, Goddamn it! I was born in this country! My children were born in this country! What the hell does someone have to do to become an American (qtd. In Harris 369)? If someone challenges the concepts of the American Dream then maybe our country can unite. Do not fear the American Dream, yes it is a powerful force that molds society but each individual controls the power. If one does not believe in the American Dream then the power of the Dream is weakened.