In his essay "Paradox and Dream," John Steinbeck makes a number of arguments, including the following:
- Americans tend to be "a restless, a dissatisfied, a searching people."
- Partly for this reason, they act excessively, taking everything to an extreme.
- Americans often hold views that are not only extreme but self-contradictory.
- Americans tend to be obsessed with being financially secure and will do almost anything to achieve that goal.
- In numerous ways, American behavior is fundamentally inconsistent and involves trying to square circles and embrace opposites. In short,
Americans seem to live and breathe and function by paradox . . .
- In particular, Americans like to consider themselves self-reliant, yet they are often anything but. Their lives, more and more, involve the possession of fewer and fewer practical, useful skills.
The paradoxes are everywhere: We shout that we are a nation of laws, not men-and then proceed to break every law we can if we can get away with it. We proudly insist that we base our political positions on the issues--and we will vote against a man because of his religion, his name, or the shape of his nose.
- Americans are inconsistent in such other ways as in their attitudes toward gender roles, their attitudes toward advertising, their various fears, their views of entertainment, and their views of art.
- The aspirations of Americans have little to do with the actual lives most of them live, and when their aspirations are achieved, they are often quickly discarded for new ones.
- Americans are increasingly transient and unsettled.
- The American obsession with status leads to an obsession with constant change.
- The dreams of Americans seem to reflect realities of the nation’s past and seem connected with birth in the United States.
- In American myths of morality (such as those associated with the Old West),
virtue does not arise out of reason or orderly process of law--it is imposed and maintained by violence.
- The deepest aspirations of Americans
describe our vague yearnings toward what we wish were and hope we may be: wise, just, compassionate, and noble. The fact that we have this dream at all is perhaps an indication of its possibility.
Jomar NocedaHooper 11 AP Literature and Composition21 November 2016In "Paradox and Dream" Jo!n teinbec# exp$ains !o% Americans !ave become ob$iviousto t!e paradoxes t!at are present bet%een t!e American mindset and American $i&e' He points outt!at America(s !istor) is &i$$ed %it! s)mbo$s $i#e "*uns$in*in* s!eri&&s" %!ic! trans$ate to be t!e nationa$ dreams o& t!e past +teinbec# ,-' .!e paradoxes t!at teinbec# $ists are supported b) t!ese s)mbo$s o& t!e American Dream as t!e) are ido$i/ed b) Americans )et t!e) are not re$evant in t!e present' Ho%ever it is to be reasoned t!at t!e American Dream is c!an*in* a$on*side American $i&e so teinbec# is correct in !is assertion t!at t!e American Dream is sti$$ a possibi$it)' uc! o& t!e paradoxes teinbec# accounts &or can be t!ou*!t o& as t!e impact o& c!an*in* times' He states t!at Americans be$ieve t!emse$ves to be !eirs o& t!e pioneers )et t!ere isn3t a man amon* us in ten t!ousand t!at can ta#e on t!e ro$e o& a butc!er or !unter +1-' Americans are not as se$&4su&&icient as t!e) idea$$) %ere in t!e past because America is becomin*more advanced' It is a resu$t o& t!e increased avai$abi$it) o& a co$$e*e4$eve$ education %!ic! &osters a variet) o& ne% s#i$$s amon* Americans and a dependenc) on ot!er Americans &or certain s#i$$s' .!e American Dream o& t!e past %as bein* se$&4su&&icient evident t!rou*! t!e pioneers' 5it! t!e opportunit) o& education in t!e advancin* America o& toda) t!at Dream is no $on*er re$evant' at!er t!e Dream !as s!i&ted to%ards pursuin* a s#i$$ to specia$i/e in' .!e Dream did not die %it! t!e past it 7ust 8too#9 anot!er &orm +2-' .!e Dream !as c!an*ed %it!t!e circumstances o& education in American $i&e so t!e American Dream is sti$$ attainab$e'