The American Dream is an interesting enigma, a phenomenon that helps to explain American exceptionalism and yet showcases the failings of America as a country.
Mark Twain wrote about America as a great frontier, a place where anything can happen, yet his works are extremely satirical – humorous and light, yet filled with social commentary. Bret Harte, on the other hand, has a much more pessimistic view of the American Dream as a place where people can reach for the starts only to fall to their deaths. In “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” his views are summed up fairly well in the following quote: “The pride, the hope, the joy, the Luck of Roaring Camp had disappeared.” Substitute Roaring Camp with American and you have Harte’s views on America.
His pessimism is shared by the Indian Chief Red Cloud, who once said “They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they kept only one; they promised to take our land, and they did.” The American Dream for the colonists was a nightmare for the native Americans. A more modern version of the American Dream – that of the rock star – rose up in the 20th century, and is perfectly encapsulated with the work of Jerry Hopkins, the journalist who wrote the Doors biography No One Here Gets Out Alive.
Harte, Bret, and Gary Scharnhorst. The luck of Roaring Camp and other writings . New York: Penguin Books, 2001. Print.
Red Cloud. "A People without history is like wind in the Buffalo Grass....Sioux." Welcome to Blue Cloud Abbey. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Apr. 2011. <http://www.bluecloud.org/without.html>.