- Rawls wrote this essay in 1986 and concludes by asserting that the promises of California remain undiminished. Write an essay in which you argue whether his description of the California good life is still valid, supporting your position with current evidence. To develop your ideas, you might read or reread Victor Davis Hanson’s Paradise Lost.
A lot of things happened during the period between the 18th and the 21st century. To be more specific, most of the highlights of the nation, the United States’, accomplishments today can be traced back to the golden years of the 20th century. James Rawls was the author of the work California: A Place, a People, a Dream, a book about the quintessential and other positive, and some negative qualities of the Californian state. Rawls argued that California is one of the best, if not the best places, one could be, at least based on the people’s perception about California and how it looked and felt like living there during the time that he was finishing his work. It would make sense to think that the highlight of Rawls’ work was the Californian paradox that he described. In it he argued that despite the fact that California indeed carried great potential of becoming the most populous, richest, and most progressive state among all others in the United States through the people’s long term vision of a good life, a lot of disappointment, frustration, and popping of bubbles of illusion of a good and most often, a get rich quick life. This, according to Rawls, both popularized the idea of living in California, and at the same time, alerted the people, especially those who became so eager to transfer there just because of the still unproven Californian dream.
What qualities make California a unique place compared to other states in the United States during the 19th century? Perhaps one of the most naturally-occurring answers to this would be the overall weather. A typical weather in California can be characterized by the presence of crisp air coming out straight from the High Sierra, or the unique feeling of the breeze coming straight from the ocean touching one’s skin at Malibu; the skies of Central Valley filled with clouds and being decorated by the sun, and the unique mixture of mist and fog in Muir Woods, among others. For some, this unique weather in a relatively cold North American continent is already enough to make them move their things and their families and transfer to the greener land and more stable weather in California. The next factor here would be the success stories of individuals who allegedly originally came from the state of California. Some of the examples that Rawls used to prove his point were Stephen Wozniak and Steven Jobs’ founding of Apple Corporation (despite the fact that they started as nothing but mere small-time computer entrepreneurs in California; the founding of the Hewlett Packard corporation in Palo Alto by its founders William Hewlett and David Packard, the discovery of new reserves or oil, gold, and other resources, and the establishment of whole new manufacturing lines and industries on separate occasions.
The author did not stop at romanticizing California’s greatness. He also emphasized the frustration, the disappointment, and the challenges that those who tried their luck in this allegedly magical state but failed—the main reason why there is a Californian paradox. The once celebrated notion of being the most populous state has been regarded as something close to a curse because of the negative effects of overpopulation that California citizens themselves witnessed. What Rawls presented were basically the beautiful and the ugly side of California, something which is nothing short of a good job, thanks to his unbiased tone. I agree to most of his points. What I could see myself accepting was the fact that people actually believed that California could have been the birthplace of one of the most superior, if not the most superior race on earth. That would certainly be not true as the success stories of people who made fortunes in this allegedly green pasture were nothing but products of their own motivation and hard work, no more and no less..
- Why, in Spooner’s view, did California promotional campaigns target Iowans?
As in the work of some of Rawls and other authors who also described California as one of the places with the greenest pastures, Spooner, in her work entitled A New Perspective on the Dream, presented a more conventional view of California, the people’s perception of it, and some variables in its past that may have contributed to what and how people see it today, or at least during the time that she was writing her work. In a nutshell, he proposed an alternative view of the Californian dream, which is not so similar with that of Rawls. There are many reasons why people from different parts of the North and South American continent decided to move to California. The factor that Spooner focused on was the possible rationale that people wanted to start a new life, a different one from the one they had in the place they left, after the signing of the truces that officially ended the Second World War. The end of the war marked the retention of the status of national territories that did not change administrative hands. This means that countries and states that oppressively treated their citizens remained to be so; and that those that fairly treated theirs remained to be so. California is one of the states that belong to the latter—states that fairly treated their citizens.
The regulations and the political stability in the other regions, particularly the West, North, Central, and the Midwest regions were not so attractive and so this people coming from these regions got prompted to leave their then current homes and move to California. Now, according to Spooner’s research and own perspective, Iowan refugees and immigrants represent a huge percentage of the total population of California during the pre and post-World War II period. Having already formed a population base in California, the population of Californians who came from Iowa even increased, thanks to the huge population growth that followed after the end of the Second World War. The belief that most Californians during that time came from Iowa has led to the exaggeration that most Californians today are technically Iowans. This, in turn, led to the belief that if people, particularly those who own businesses were to understand the perceptions and behaviors of Iowans, they would be able to understand the perceptions and behaviors of most, but definitely not all Californians too, making their promotional campaigns smoother, more efficient, and effective. This is why for the succeeding years, promotional campaigns targeted mostly Iowans although results of a more thorough research would most likely indicate that aside from Iowans, there were, in fact, a lot of other significant populations from other North and South American regions who migrated to California, in hopes of being able to find a new and better life.
- Spooner writes that Southern California attracted many Midwesterners because they saw it as a place like the Midwest but better.
Spooner indeed wrote her work based on the presumption that California was indeed a much better place compared to all other states in most if not all of North and South American regions. However, I would like to contest her idea that suggest that more and more people moved in to California because it is a much better place compared to other places, such as the one she mentioned in her work (e.g. Orange, Tustin, and Claremont). We can factor in the fact that during the time that California experienced a surge in immigrants, most Americans, Northerners and Southerners, just experienced a war and so it may be natural for them to perceive, at least during that time that their place was not the best place to live. For sure, in California, no matter how magnificent, economically progressive, or orderly this state used to be, things have been significantly different and even harder during the war as well just like what happened in other places. The fact that the people just experienced a World War may have clouded Spooner’s mind and made him automatically think that the reason why people transferred to California was because people actually believed it is a better place than cities like Orange, Tustin, and Claremont.
Pierette Sotelo wrote the book Immigrant Workers Cleaning and Caring in the Shadows of Affluence to describe the changes in the patterns of experiences and lifestyles that immigrant women in California have experienced. Sotelo focused on the fact that as more and more jobs became available for Californians, even for those are immigrants from different places, women became less involved in traditional jobs such as taking care of the children, doing mostly household chores, and cooking food, among others. Women have changed their pattern of experiences and lifestyle as more and more of them became permanent members of the workforce—a privilege which used to be available only to men. Richard Rodriguez, on the other hand, authored works about the patterns of experiences and lifestyles of various populations in California. One of his famous works that are related to this topic is Proofs. In Proofs, he explained the hardships and challenges that people from Latin America (e.g. Brazilians, Mexicans, and etc.) encountered just to get to Los Angeles. These people had to learn how to understand and speak English; how to work just as hard as other Americans; how to do jobs that they did not even have a background in; and most important of all, endure the pain of being separated with their families at home (mostly in Mexico) just so they could earn a living. At this point, I can say that the difference between the roles of men and that of women is continuously getting thinner, as evidenced by the increased number of women doing roles (working away from home) doing jobs that used to be traditional jobs of men. This may be due to various factors. Firstly, the fact that the number of jobs in factories, mines, and other newly-established industries have attracted women to secure their own spot in the workforce instead of staying at home doing repetitive jobs. Secondly, this gender role convergence between men and women may be the result of the necessity to look for a job, especially for couples who had to sustain the needs of big families. This trend still continues now, again, as evidenced by the number of women entering the workforce.
- Write an essay in which you support, refute, or modify Rodriguez’s assertion that the Mexicans he discusses had no true home but the tabernacle of memory
Rodriguez discussed the experiences, mostly negative, that Mexicans had when they moved to California, a country that has been perceived to have greener pastures compared to other countries in the North and South American continents, to work. He repeated several times that Mexicans had to come into the country (California) on their knees and with their heads down because they were basically not from that land. The Mexicans had to endure being degraded at work and the fact that they had to endure all negative treatments and perceptions from the natives because they believe that as a man, they had to do so. He further explained in one simple paragraph how Americans differ from Mexicans. “Mexico is poor, but mama says there are no love songs like the love songs of Mexico; the people are kinder-poor but kinder to each other” .
Now, to answer the question directly, within the context of traditional (often characterized by laxity) immigration policies, I would say that it would already be logical for people to believe Rodriguez’s assertion that the Mexicans he discusses had no true home but the tabernacle of memory. This is because Mexicans, during that time, were basically illegal immigrants. They were basically doing jobs that pay a fraction of what their work was really worth just to sustain the needs of their families. Some of them had to work so hard and be degraded at the same time that the good thing that remains in their memory is the memory of their family and home. So, unless the Mexicans that Rodriguez was pertaining to did not suffer from discrimination, I would say that this assertion of his is valid.