Grapes of wrath american dream essay

You know it is it is it is indeed a dream a dream is something that's ethereal. You know, a dream is something that's not really quite there. And when I think of the American dream that's what I think of something that is manufactured something that is ethereal something that's not quite there.

Gatsby's American Dream: Reading The Great Gatsby Critically, Chapter 1

Gloria Naylor: I think perhaps of the books that we were reading. I think for that character Lutie Johnson. She believed the hype. She looked at the model that was set for the likes of The Ben Franklin's of this country and she felt that, yes indeed I can attain it because I'm told if I just work hard enough if I want it badly enough if I save enough then I should be able to better myself which makes perfect sense.

If you are indeed in the mold of the Ben Franklins. But what Lutie Johnson did not take into account was her race and her sex and her class. You know and so she did work very hard. She did want things very passionately. She did save and scrape and sacrifice and she ended up in Harlem running from a murder.

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Gloria Naylor: Yes. Definitely, if we want to get real. Let's get real. I definitely think it's a lie I think. I think it's part of the same philosophy which flows that this is a real democracy. You know this is not true democracy. It's important that this society and any society be ruled by the few because there was never any trust in the masses.

Gloria Naylor: What it helps to do is to keep people calm. It's not that the society is flawed or that the system is flawed or weighted it's just that there's something wrong within me. Gloria Naylor: I have seen it happen. There are some African-Americans who are today able to quote unquote pass and they're able to pass on to great it not so much of skin color but to pass into the larger society by simply sublimating those things which are considered quote unquote too ethnic or too political.

So therefore they aspire to the values of the broader society. They they try very hard not to stand out as far as the way they look physically the way they might dress the language they might speak the food they might eat the values they might hold. And they are acceptable. It was such a phenomenon to me that Colin Powell was so deeply loved by the American media and actually touted as becoming President.

And when you looked at the man you sort of understood. What could be more American than someone was willing to die for this country. You know than a man who was a general then a man who was that conservative you know a man who was also fair skinned which was extremely important and who had Republican leanings. Michael Epstein: So give me a sense then if as you sort of this kind of modern passing that we're talking about that Colin Powell is not white but in every other way.

She's written a book in the mid 20s. What are the dynamics of access to the American dream if you-. Gloria Naylor: Well in those years the access was through the color of the skin. To even have a hope at running the race although like I've already said the race cannot be won. But even the hope of running in the race you had to be white to enter.

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So in those years what a person did who had that complexion was simply to assume the mantle of whiteness to have a chance at the game. Today you don't need to assume that mantle of whiteness as far as the skin color as long as you assume certain values and certain political stances and you don't make waves. Michael Epstein: Let's talk about the book. What do you think. Gloria Naylor: I think it starts with that sweltering kind of heat because that symbolizes the oppressiveness of the society in which the Irene's of the world and Irene was a middle class black you know.

Who was talking of sending her children to Europe and they took summer vacations at Martha's Vineyard and this sort of thing. And yet and still what she was oppressed by was the color of her skin. So she had to worry about whether or not when she was taking an iced tea at the top of this very fancy hotel whether or not she would be embarrassed and shuffled out. Michael Epstein: One of the things I always like to do, is to help us with the narrative.

How does Irene escape the heat? Gloria Naylor: Irene passes.


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That's right Irene. She doesn't announce that she is white but she doesn't deny it either. So she just simply she she goes up she's she's fair enough to pass as white and she sits there and she just simply pretends and that's what Clare brought out to her later in the book.

Exploring The American Dream in Great Gatsby and Grapes of Wrath :: Comparative Literature

You have when it has been convenient for you you have indeed passed. I just did it for higher stakes. Michael Epstein: So they're on the roof of the Drake Hotel and Irene kind of sees this woman looking at her-. Irene is not able to just move as herself as a human being throughout that society. She has to always be second guessing herself. Michael Epstein: So it's a it's two African-American in the day- two Negro women meeting at the top, being who they are. They're both pretending I guess on the top of that hotel. Gloria Naylor: Oh yeah, well definitely, well with Clare Kendry her entire life has become a lie.

You know she is living as a white woman. She has married a man who is a racist a white man who is a racist. So every day of her life she must live a lie. And I think as far as an artistic choice that was an interesting one that Larsen made because she could have married a man who was a Libertarian, it could have been quite possible, but she had her marry a racist which is which is to show how oppressive it must be for that woman to hear these things about herself each day of her life from this man who hated Black people.

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‘The Great Gatsby’ by Scott Fitzgerald and ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ by John Steinbeck Essay

Those were the people that there that she moved among. She could have married Irene's husband was wealthy. You know he could have put her up well as far as material things. But I think Clare Kendry was after something else and I've often wondered about that with this book it must have been that she wanted the psychological freedom to move within American society and to be considered a human being. Because even the wealthiest black was not considered the equal of the poorest white. Gloria Naylor: I see her as being drawn back to her own roots.

Definitely yeah. Because one must be what one is you know and at some point you want to just breathe free and to truly be yourself as to the same thing with people who are homosexual and who are in the closet. There's a point when you just want to simply not have to guard every word guard every gesture but to simply be oneself.

And and that's what Clare Kendry gives up. So in a sense she is in a psychological cage but then there are other times in her life when she can be in the rooftop of fancy hotels and not have to worry. You know when she can go into stores but they don't really do much when you think about it it's it's a very prescribed world that these women move in. It's a world of shopping and of Tea Parties and cocktail parties and of of second homes. So that's why I kept saying to myself, what is it that she wanted that she couldn't have attained if she stayed in the black bourgeoisie?

Gloria Naylor: Well I think you have that freedom once you move in the outside society. Do you see any similarity between Clare going back and Gatsby going back? I mean here are both characters that reinvent themselves and what they do they go you go home. Gloria Naylor: They go home yeah. You know because that they're that that's where you get your basic freedom from. Except that Gatsby doesn't quite go home because Gatsby reinvented himself from the time he was 12 years old when he left the Midwest you know he had been the child of farmers I believe failed farmers and he left.

But he goes back to that moment in his life when he was a young Army officer and he could have married Daisy Buchanan you know so he returns I think to her in that sense he doesn't go all the way back what Clare Kendry does is that she literally wants to go back into the black world of the black bourgeoisie and to just move among these people and be there.

What I think both authors are showing is that these characters being drawn back to their past ultimately leads to their destruction. If they had stayed there in the first place perhaps that's where true happiness would have lain. So there's a sort of cautionary tale I think in both of those books. Michael Epstein: It seems almost to me to this point exactly that you're making that if you choose to reinvent yourself-.

Gloria Naylor: You know there's a price to pay. I think because each author is saying to their character and to the audience is that what these individuals were after, was shallow. They were after something that they could not truly attain or even more importantly that they probably should not have wanted. You know Clare should not have wanted to move in the white world.

She should have wanted perhaps to stay where she was to thrive and be fruitful within her own race. Gatsby should not have wanted to move into this very shallow world of the wealthy and accept it there in East Egg.