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American Dream in "Into The Wild" & "Great Gatsby"

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The aspects of the American dream have changed in every time period and every person, as one might want rich while the other wants love. The book “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, is about a young man who wanted to go against the grain of society to feel free while in the wild alone, and the book “Great Gatsby” by Scott Fitzgerald, is about a young man who grew up poor to gradually idolize money so much that he because one of the most money crazy men in Long Island, describe the meaning of the American dream in their life. Both of the main characters feel like if you work hard you achieve the American Dream and with that, you will find happiness, however, Chris Mccandless focuses on simple life while Jay Gatsby focuses on material wealth.

Into the Wild and The Great Gatsby, both showed two hard-working main characters, with the belief that working hard will give you the American dream. In “The Great Gatsby”, Gatsby grows up poor and he works to turn himself into one of the richest people of the new money side. The author writes, “It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run father, stretch out our arms farther…And then one fine morning—So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”. Fitzgerald is saying that the American Dream is a long hard process in which you’ll consistently need to push to go further. Fitzgerald describes that to achieve the “American Dream”, there will always be a goal to keep working harder to get to finish this dream. Fitzgerald gives a good example of this using the visual example of having to keep reaching your arms out to achieve this. In “Into the Wild” Chris grew up with money but still worked jobs and didn’t have the work needed to succeed in life. “…McCandless worked hard, doing dirty, tedious jobs that nobody else wanted to tackle: mucking out warehouses, exterminating vermin, painting, scything weeds”. Similarly, This quote shows that McCandless is a hard worker, and will do most jobs that others don’t want to do. These jobs are so bad, that only the people who want to work hard will work these jobs. He believes that if he works these jobs, he will be able to achieve the “American Dream”. The two stories show that no matter the way you grow up, poor or comfortable, you still need to work hard for what you want your life to be.

The American Dream was the main theme in both books, specifically on how the American Dream can lead to happiness. Jay Gatsby had everything in life he could have ever wanted, except happiness. All he wanted more than the parties was the girl who was married to another. “Her voice was full of money”. Typically, the American Dream correlates with money, but Gatsby’s American Dream is Daisy, the only time in which Gatsby was seen to happen, was when he was around Daisy. This connects the two as Daisy is Gatsby’s “American Dream”. Chris McCandless’s happiness wasn’t a girl or money, he wanted to be away from the world around him, and that gave him happiness. “So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future”. McCandless showed that he was someone who wanted to be out of the ordinary to achieve this “American Dream”, changing his entire thought process to do so. Chris thinks that people should change up their viewpoints also, to achieve and experience the “American Dream”. Both stories aim for happiness, Jay and Chris both did everything they could, just to end up dead at the end of the books.

The American dream was the goal of both main characters, one achieved it through material wealth while the other focused on the simple life. Gatsby to get the life he wanted to get rich. With becoming rich his idea of others changed for the worse. He did what he wanted to do. “Why they came East I don’t know. They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and their unrest fully wherever people played polo and were rich together”. Here, Krakauer is showing us how McCandless truly felt. Krakauer shows that Chris truly wanted to just be cut off from everything in his life. Chris didn’t want any type of material possessions. Chris McCandless never wanted to be a part of the rich snobby world he was born into. “At long last, he was unencumbered, emancipated from the stifling world of his parents and peers, a world of abstraction and security and material excess, a world in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence”. Fitzgerald on the other hand shows how Gatsby seems to value Daisy and money more than anything else. Showing that, they would trip together for no reason, and would be rich together. This would show that most things that matter to them would be material possessions. Gatsby and McCandless have very different lives and very different goals to achieve, one being materials and the other being alone.

There are similarities and differences between Jay Gatsby’s and Chris Mccandless’s idea of the “American Dream’. While both believed that if you work hard enough you will get the American Dream and that results in happiness, Jay Gatsby focused on material wealth while Mccandless focused on the simple life. Coming from different backgrounds both of the main characters worked for what they wanted, while not conforming to what their life was supposed to look like. Gatsby grew up poor but managed to become one of the richest while Chris was comfortable growing up, and he did just become a lawyer like his family wanted but did what made him happy. The “American Dream” is different for every person and every time period, and that is why people work so hard to achieve it.

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American Dream In “Into the Wild” & “Great Gatsby”. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/american-dream-in-into-the-wild-great-gatsby/
“American Dream In “Into the Wild” & “Great Gatsby”.” GradesFixer, 29 Apr. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/american-dream-in-into-the-wild-great-gatsby/
American Dream In “Into the Wild” & “Great Gatsby”. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/american-dream-in-into-the-wild-great-gatsby/> [Accessed 8 Dec. 2022].
American Dream In “Into the Wild” & “Great Gatsby” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 29 [cited 2022 Dec 8]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/american-dream-in-into-the-wild-great-gatsby/
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