AMERICA AND DREAMS IN LITERATURE
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of American history and literature is the emphasis of the theme of dreams. America, the land of opportunity, has often been thought of as a place where we can accomplish anything if we work hard enough, where love is pure, and families stay together. Unfortunately, these images are an illusion. In some of the books that we have read, characters express their dreams and face turmoil and hardship while trying to achieve their goals. In class, we read Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons. We also read independent novels and found correlations between Ellen Foster and these novels. Our independent novels are Phoenix Rising by Karen Hesse, In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason, Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee, and Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid.One aspect of the "American Dream" is searching for and coming to terms with one's identity. This is dealt with in one way or another in all of the novels. Part of coming to terms with one's identity is dealing with shattered dreams. Our dreams are often shot down by forces beyond our control. For example, some of the characters in our books deal with either spousal abuse or child abuse. However, other characters have found ways to rise out of the confusion or destruction of their dreams to find some sort of peace within themselves.
Check out our "character letters."
This page was created by Janet Dovyak, Chrissy Franks, Leigh Mallonee, and John Wachen. It was developed as part of our language and literacy class at Penn State University.