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What Is An American

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Since this great country was first established many intuitive minds have tried to answer the question; "What is an American". This country is full of individuals of many backgrounds, and diversities and each person has a different opinion on this question. In my opinion, an American is someone who values freedom and equality and pursues the "American dream." Every American exercises these rights and these are great adjectives to describe our country. Each of the seven readings, and the one image I compiled help mold this broader definition into a more precise description of an American.

Robert Creeley, an influential American writer and poet, lived the ideal American dream. He wrote about his struggles early in his life. He lost his father at an early age and went away to school at the age of fourteen. He overcame all adversity to work hard for a living and, in return, live the American dream. He also wrote that the United States is a place where all people want to go because it offers a chance at renewal and making their lives better (Creeley). This, in its essence, is the American Dream; A happy and successful life to which all may aspire. My image represents this through the picture of the big house and the expensive car.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of America, in a letter to John Adams, wrote about the benefits of America. He wrote about people coming to America and pursuing any profession they wanted and they were protected by the law (Jefferson). At that time this was the American dream; hard work could lead to a better life. This led to having enough earnings to support a family and it transformed into something totally different.

Henry James, a European, around the same time criticized this idea of an American dream. He wrote, "their perpetual reference of all things to some American standard or precedent which exists only in their own unscrupulous wind-bags (James). Americans set their standards to high compared to the rest of the world. They put themselves on a pedestal too high for any other country to reach (James). Thus, the rest of the world and the immigrants coming to America are inferior and are not capable of living the American dream.

Florence Mayers wrote a sestina in 1940 named All-American Sestina. He challenged American pride and honor at a very crucial time in American history, and accused Americans of placing more value on material goods then freedoms and values (Mayers, ). At that time the American landscape and culture was molding into one that put more importance on material goods, and that idea started to resemble the American Dream. These days Americans judge their success on what kind of house they live in how many cars they own rather then how hard they work at their jobs and how they live their lives. This idea is represented through all of the material goods in the collage.

For some the American dream is the value of hard work. To others it's a huge emphasis on material possessions. So, the American dream is no longer the American dream. It is a dream that anyone and everyone can relate to. This dream is the idea of having what ever you want. May it be material goods, ideas and values, or freedoms and rights. This idea also represents the uniqueness of America. It is a dream a lot of people around the world don't get to enjoy; American's have the luck and privilege to do so and cherish it.

Another adjective that describes America is equality. The one thing America symbolizes more then any other country in the world is diversity. When foreigners think of this country they think about how many different types of people live in harmony with each other. This idea only works with the collective belief of equality.

Thomas Jefferson also touched upon this idea of equality. He wrote America being a capitalistic economy in which anyone and everyone could prosper (Jefferson). This early definition of equality was biased because slavery was still intact and some immigrants didn't receive the same rights as others. Even with all that America showed a glimmer of hope to any person from any social class. This idea of equality was set as the cornerstone for American society and will change throughout time until everyone is equal. This idea is represented through the images of the people of different diversities holding hands in harmony.

Langston Hughes, one of the most powerful African American poets of our time, had a good grip on the issue of equality because of the time he lived in and because of his race. He wrote many stories, essays, and poems pertaining to the issue of racism and equality in America. In his poem, "Theme for English B", he writes, "I guess you learn from me--although you're older--and white--and somewhat more free" (Hughes). From this quote I learn that there was some tension between whites and blacks and whites had more freedoms. He then writes, "You are white--yet a part of me, as I am a part of you. That's American." (Hughes). Since they are a part of each other they are equal. They can learn from each other and get rid of non-equality. They can learn from heir previous mistakes and move forward towards a better country; a country in which equality reigns.

A more contemporary figure that help answer the question of equality is Naomi Shihab Nye. She is a writer of Arabic descent who wrote the essay, This Crutch that I Love. In it, she mentioned her early childhood



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