The American Dream 2 Essay, Research Paper
Thomas Jefferson described the American Dream as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Every person has a dream and in the three short stories, The Catbird Seat by James Thurber, Winter Dream by F. Scott Fitzgerald and A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, the theme is one common American Dream: happiness. The search for happiness is found in The Catbird Seat when the main character Erwin Martin plays an elaborate stunt to save his job and dispose of a bothersome co-worker. In Winter Dreams the attempt to find happiness is found in Dexter Green s effort to woe Judy Jones, a young coquettish woman of the upper class who is out of his league . Emily Grierson the main character of A Rose for Emily was a lady of high status as well, but she had an overprotective father whom felt she was too good for any of the men in their town. When her father dies, she mets a man and fails in her attempt to find happiness with him. In all three of these stories the main characters will struggle to fulfill their American Dreams.
The main character of James Thurber s The Catbird Seat , Mr. Erwin Martin, is best described in his boss s, Mr. Fitwieler s, words Man is fallible, Martin isn t. (Pg.602). Mr. Martin is a perfectionist, who has a set schedule he follows everyday, and he enjoys his life that way. Then a fellow co-worker named Mrs. Ulgine Barrows disrupts his happiness. Mrs. Barrows is hired two years before and was constantly hassling Mr. Martin with annoying sayings such as Are you tearing up the pea patch? (Pg. 602) and Are you sitting in the Catbird seat? (Pg. 602) For almost two years [she] baited him. In the halls, in the elevator, even in his own office (Pg. 602) It had driven Mr. Martin near to distraction from his perfected ways. When Mr. Martin discovers she is planning to reorganize his department, he decides to rub [her] out (Pg. 601). He then executes his plot in which he would accomplish his American Dream. He follows his routine as usual but after him dinner, he walked to Mrs. Barrows home. He arrives unnoticed and Mrs. Barrows lets him inside. He sits down, and pulls out a cigarette, from which he bought a pack a few days before. He drank the scotch Mrs. Barrows pours for him and told her he is going to get coked to the gills (Pg. 605) and kill their employer, Mr. Fitweiler. This was very odd behavior for Mr. Martin because it was well known that he neither drank nor smoked (Pg. 603). Mrs. Barrows kicks him out of her house and he returns home. The following day at work Mrs. Barrows came in early and warned Mr. Fitweiler about what had occurred the previous night and he doesn t believe her. Instead, Mr. Fitweiler thinks she is insane and fires her. Mr. Martin would accomplish his American Dream by finding happiness once again.
Unlike Mr. Martin, the main character of F. Scott Fitzgerald s story Winter Dreams , Dexter Green never achieves the happiness he reaches for. Dexter Green is a 14-year-old boy working at a golf course as a caddy, when he meets an 11-year-old girl named Judy Jones. Dexter is immediately attracted to her. After that day of caddying for her, he could not stop thinking of her. A few years later Dexter meets her again and she invites him to a picnic supper (Pg. 617). Before going to the picnic supper she tells him I think I m in love with you. She eventually leaves the picnic with another man. Dexter became enormously upset and was scarcely able to be decently civil to the other people present. (Pg. 617) After struggling with the pain Judy had brought, he later engages Irene Shires. Then he meets Judy at a party, and she says, I wish you d marry me (Pg. 621). Dexter then breaks his engagement with Irene and engages Judy. After not too long Judy terminates their engagement saying that she did not want to take him away from Irene. (Pg. 622) He becomes very upset and his American Dream would never be accomplished.
In William Faulkner s short story A Rose for Emily , Emily Grierson s American Dream is to find happiness and love. She yearns for happiness, because her father is very overbearing and never really shows her love. He is a noble man in the community of their small town and believes she is too good for any of the poor townsman. The town s people often think, she carried her head [too] high (Pg. 512) meaning she is snobby. After her father dies, she is left with nothing but the house. The townspeople said they remember all the young men her father had driven away (Pg. 512) and they know she has nothing left. Years later she meets a man named Homer Barron and the townspeople began to see him and Emily on Sunday Afternoons… (Pg. 512) together. Not to long after meeting Homer, Emily asks him to marry her. Homer tells her he is not the marrying type. (Pg. 513) She becomes so upset that she decides if he is no going to marry her now, she is going to make sure he still comforts her. So she buys arsenic from the drug store and all the townspeople think, she will kill herself (Pg. 513). After she kills Homer with the arsenic, she leaves his body in bed and often lays next to it. She dies a long time later as an old, lonely woman, leaving her American Dream unfulfilled.
In The Catbird Seat by James Thurber, Winter Dreams by F. Scott Fitzgerald and A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, all three main characters struggle in their attempt to fulfill their American Dream. Although only Mr. Martin of The Catbird Seat finds happiness, they all try to make better for themselves what they can. In The Catbird Seat , the author portraits Mr. Martin s American Dream by showing us the mental difficulty Mr. Martin goes through everyday at work and how he works to change that for himself. Dexter Green s American Dream is shown to us by the author s descriptive use of the emotional suffering, that Dexter must go through. Emily Greirson never received the true love she desired, but the author shows use how much she wants love when she kills Homer, so that she can be with him night and day. Most Americans can t fulfill their American Dreams, but just like the characters in these stories, they try as hard as they can.