Here is another one:
Speaking about the American Dream, we usually imply some sort of fulfillment, something what is associated with success and happiness. For different people the American Dream acquires a variety of meanings; nevertheless, generally we could divide them into two categories. It is an open secret that for the majority of people the American Dream brings up an association of material welfare. For other people it is an idea to fulfill their spiritual wishes. It is also pretty common to behold a situation when a person is faced with the tough choice between these two tracks of the American Dream. Stephen Cruz, a main character of story written by Studs Terkel, can serve as a classical example of such a person. In contrast to him could be placed Cora Tucker, a hero of Anne Witte Garland’s work. What does it truly mean to implement the American dream? What tracks do our heroes choose and whether it led them towards fulfillment? I hope we will be able to answer these questions, as well as get a better understanding of the essence of the American Dream after thorough analysis and comparison of our main characters.Stephen Cruz and Cora Tucker.
Stephen Cruz is one of five children of Mexican immigrants who came to the US in an attempt to find a better life. Being born in America, he didn’t know all the difficulties his grandparents and parents went through, and he didn’t understand why his “fairly affluent” family was only allowed to live “where all the trashy whites were.” He was smart enough to get into college, becoming the first one in his family who obtained a degree. After graduate school, where he combined his knowledge in engineering with a master’s in business, he received dozens of good job offers, which, he naively believed, was just because of his excellent skills. However, his first workplace opened his eyes to a real nature of his American Dream. “I was a good compromise,” this is how Stephen describes himself looking back at these times. He was hired as a member of minority; at the same time he “wasn’t really black.” That was a moment, when Cruz for the first time realized that he never considered himself different. As he says, “that was the trouble.”
Nevertheless, he stayed on the business track and went to work at another company, holding the opinion that “businessmen gave a damn about society, that given a choice they would do the right thing.” After a few more years in the field, he realized that minorities are as bad to each other as whites are to minorities. He tried to bring some of them together, but he failed in his attempt. “Hey, the American dream, you got it,” Stephen heard in response from people around, whose only propositions were to “fall in line” and “lay off”. Being fully disillusioned, Cruz quit the job with thoughts to switch the business world for something else. Nevertheless, he shortly understood that it would be much smarter to “take the bucks and continue looking for the answer.” Thus, Stephen Cruz gave himself another chance, getting a new position with bigger than ever salary. But other warnings to “get in line” were waiting for him, one more disappointment.
The consulting world, where Stephen appeared to figure out how executives work, was an eye-opener to the reality of the American dream. “The dream is not losing. This is the notion pervading America today: don’t lose.”
Cruz left the business world. Taking a teaching position in the university, he is saying “we’re gonna be all right.” He finishes his life story reasoning about the elusiveness of the American dream and importance that modern business assumes. He admits that “a counterpower is needed.” And it seems to be true, as initial opportunity to succeed transformed the world in the place where money and corporations are defining peoples’ destinies.
Cora Tucker, the main character of Garland’s article, comes from a poor African American family living in Virginia. She, as well as another eight siblings, gets to know what hard physical labor is beginning in her childhood years, when her family becomes sharecroppers, which was the most possible way to survive for her family at this time. She was an intelligent child who loved attending school. Her school essay even led her to the meeting with the Virginia governor, what actually turned into a big disappointment. Being among winners in a contest for the best work, she publicly refused to shake the hand of the governor when she realized that her essay was rewritten. This episode greatly describes the firmness of her character, which she would never lose through her life.
At seventeen she sorted out her priorities, dropping out of high school and choosing instead marriage and kids. She decided to get a job as her children have grown up. Cora becomes a seamstress at one of the factories, where she attempts to create a union. During the years at the factory, Cora was saving money to build her own house. She finally realized her dream, despite her husband’s initial lack of support.
All these years she was active in the community. She participated in different organizations fighting for the rights of black Americans and conducted many campaigns trying to attract people from the community to join her. Cora was doing every possible thing – from encouraging young people to read about black history to driving people to the polls – to change peoples’ attitudes.
Leaving her job because of health problems, Cora Tucker creates her own organization, Citizens for a Better America. A survey, which was carried out by the CBA, revealed a real picture of discrimination against black employees and caused investigations at the state level. She was invited a few times to Washington to testify on welfare issues, even though it was not common place for “talks from a grassroots level.” Thus, Cora was establishing a reputation.
But besides supporters, she made many enemies – people were threatening her in different ways. However, it never became a cause to diminish the scope of her activity. “If you stop doing things because somebody says something bad about you or does something to you, then you’ll never get anything done,” she says. And she never stopped. As many people noticed, even though Cora was not the greatest orator, her words were always full of energy and honesty, which couldn’t leave people untouched.
Keeping on with her mission, Cora started publishing a monthly newspaper. Besides all the meetings she was attending, she was still helping as many community dwellers as possible in their everyday problems. In the meantime, CBA expanded to several chapters in different places; moreover, Cora joined two other organizations, Virginia Action and Citizen Action. Thus, she always tried to stay busy. All this time, her mother remained the only person who was ready to help.
Stephen Cruz and Cora Tucker – people of one epoch, but different worlds. They both were Americans and both had moments when they felt as if they were aliens in this country. They both tried to fight against this injustice; the approaches they chose were just slightly different.
Stephen and Cora were of the same age, being born in 1941. Coming from the working families, they were not spoilt kids; on the contrary, from her early years Cora did all the works adults usually do. As we could notice, they both were pretty smart kids, and if not for the severe reality of Cora’s world they could easily meet each other in college. It never happened, as seventeen years old Cora turned towards family values. It is still a riddle for me, why such a wise girl like Cora, who has watched the whole life her mother struggling in poverty, didn’t want a different life for herself. Perhaps I should admit that even for a girl who was awarded with the meeting with the governor, it was unlikely to make her way through college in those times. However, very soon we meet the real Cora Tucker. Her life was devoted to the good of the community. Cora was doing every possible thing to cease discrimination of black Americans, turning her life into a life of other people. It looks like she was created to help, to defend, and stand up for others.
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