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The American dream

The American dream

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The American dream

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  1. The American dream 15.X.12 Of Mice and Men Objectives To explore the concept of the American Dream To gain insight and understanding into Steinbeck’s ideas How By reading text, viewing still and moving images and discussing answers to consolidation questions which require you to summarise your understanding.

  2. In the 15th century people believed that if you sailed west from Europe you would eventually arrive in the Orient (orient is Latin for ‘east’). So people believed you would arrive in Japan and China.

  3. Christopher Columbus persuaded the Spanish king and queen to fund a trip sailing west to the Orient. In 1492 Columbus’ ships landed in what he thought was the Orient but was really the area we now call the Caribbean.

  4. Columbus himself always insisted, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, that the lands that he visited during those voyages were part of the Asian continent, as previously described by Marco Polo and other European travellers. Columbus's refusal to accept that the lands he had visited and claimed for Spain were not part of Asia might explain, in part, why the American continent was named after the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci and not after Columbus

  5. Amerigo Vespucci first demonstrated that Brazil and the West Indies did not represent Asia's eastern outskirts as initially conjectured from Columbus‘s voyages, but instead constituted an entirely separate landmass hitherto unknown to Afro-Eurasians. Colloquially referred to as the New World, this second super continent came to be termed "America", probably deriving its name from the feminized Latin version of Vespucci's first name

  6. Stop & Check Why do you think Europe became so excited by the discovery of a new continent? Can you make a list on the board of all the things a new continent might offer? How could you organise the items on the list? Extend your thinking What would be an equivalent discovery in today’s world? Hint

  7. The continent Columbus had discovered was already home to The Native American peoples who had descended from Asian migrants 15,000 years before. The population of these peoples was greatly reduced, primarily by disease after European contact and exacerbated by European colonisation. The United States itself was initially derived from thirteen British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. On July 4, 1776, delegates to the Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed their right to self-determination and establishment of a sovereign union. The rebellious states with direct help from France and several other European powers, defeated the British Empire, along with its Indian allies and German mercenaries, in the American Revolution, the first successful colonial war of independence. The current United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787; its ratification the following year made the states part of a single republic with a stronger central government. The Bill of Rights, consisting of ten constitutional amendments guaranteeing many fundamental civil rights and freedoms, was ratified in 1791.

  8. Stop & Check Why do you think independence is so important to Americans then and now? Extend your thinking What is ironic about European’s quest for a new life and independence in America? Hint

  9. Through the 19th century, the United States embarked on a vigorous program of expansion across North America. It displaced native tribes, acquiring the Louisiana territory from France and Florida from Spain; annexed the Republic of Texas in 1845, leading to war in which it conquered half of Mexico; and purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. During the early territorial expansion, significant disputes between the agrarian slave-holding South and free-soil industrial North led to the American Civil War. The North's victory re-established the Union, and led to the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ending legalized slavery in the United States. The Plains Indian Wars relocated remaining tribes onto confined reservations, a Congressional Resolution annexed the Republic of Hawaii, then the treaty ending the Spanish-American War ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, as well as the Philippines (which later became independent). By the end of the nineteenth century, its national economy was the world's largest.

  10. The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 was the first land run into the Unassigned Lands and included all or part of the 2005 modern day Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma, and Payne counties of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The land run started at high noon on April 22, 1889, with an estimated 50,000 people lined up for their piece of the available two million acres (8,000 km²). Click on the image to see a clip from Far and Away.

  11. Declaration of Independence, 1776 • “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” Stop & Check How does this declaration relate to the idea of an American Dream?

  12. Richard Nixon: presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, 1968 • “My fellow Americans, the long dark night for America is about to end. The time has come for us to leave the valley of despair and climb the mountain so that we may see the glory of the dawn – a new day for America, a new dawn for peace and freedom in the world.” Stop & Check How does this speech relate to the idea of an American Dream?

  13. Transcript of the Nicolay Draft of the Gettyburg Address • “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that ‘all men are created equal’ That nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Stop & Check How does this address relate to the idea of an American Dream?

  14. The pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Emma Lazarus: 1903 “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore/ Send thee, the tempest-tossed, to me: “I lift a lamp beside the golden door.” Stop & Check How does this inscription relate to the idea of an American Dream?

  15. Stop & Check Why are dreams so significant to Americans? Can you make a list on the board of all the ways dreams are linked to America’s history? How could you organise the items on the list? Extend your thinking How does the idea of the American dream manifest today? Hint

  16. Thinking about the title of the novel and how this relates to the theme of DREAMS Robert Burns was a poet from Scotland who lived 200 years ago. One autumn day, when walking in the countryside, Burns noticed a small mouse building its nest in a wheat field. Burns watched the mouse working hard to make its nest cosy and secure. Burns then saw a farmer reaping the wheat crop with his scythe. Burns knew that the mouse’s nest would be destroyed by the scythe and the mouse’s plans for a cosy home would be ruined. Burns realised that men’s plans can be ruined just as easily. Burns wrote in his poem To A Mouse that: But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane, In proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy! Stop & Check Given that the novel is called ‘Of Mice and Men’, how important do you think the theme of dreams was to Steinbeck? What happened to the mouse that Burns wrote about and what happens to the dreams in Of Mice and Men? What is Steinbeck’s message?

  17. American Dream in Of Mice and Men • Steinbeck wanted to explore the themes of power, ownership and control and their effect upon ordinary people. • Those people strived for a better life, and had hopes and dreams • Lennie and George’s dream is significant because it tells us something about the culture that has created them.

  18. What is the American Dream? • As we have seen, America has always been seen as the Land of Opportunity, partly because immigrants from Europe saw it as a place of freedom, a place to begin a new life, a place for real possibilities and wealth for all. • This belief in America as a country where ordinary people could create a better life for themselves is often referred to as The American Dream

  19. From the 17th century, when the first settlers arrived, immigrants dreamed of a better life in America People went to American to escape from persecution, to make a new life for themselves and their families. For many the dream became a nightmare. The horrors of slavery, of the American Civil War, the growth of slums and the corruption of the government led to many shattered hopes For many the dream ended with the Wall Street crash in 1929.

  20. This was the start of the Great Depression that would affect the whole world during the 1930’s. The dream did survive for individuals. Thousands made their way west to California to escape farmlands of the mid-west. George and Lennie dreamed of their “Little house and a couple of acres”. The growing popularity of the cinema was the last American Dream for many.

  21. The Great Depression When Of Mice and Men was published in 1937 America was in the grip of a huge economic depression. On October 29 1929, the Wall Street Crash led America into a depression which crippled the country from 1930 - 1936. When banks went bust people lost their life savings and at one point one third of America's population were unemployed. Back in the 1930s there was no welfare state to help the unemployed so food became scarce and millions of jobless men and women lost their homes and were forced to live in shanty settlements known as 'Hoovervilles.’ Their homes were constructed from corrugated iron and anything else the people could get their hands on. To make matters worse a series of droughts in states like Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas led to the failure of harvests and barren land. Farmers were forced to leave their land as they couldn't repay their mortgages and had to sell what they had to pay off their debts. Many economic migrants went west to California, believing there would be land and jobs, but many were refused entry to the ‘Golden State’ and turned back. The refugees had nowhere to go back to, so they set up home in the California valleys - living in shacks of cardboard and old metal - and looked for work as casual ranch hands. Against this background, men like George and Lennie were lucky to have work. The farm hands were fortunate for at least a bunk-house to live in and to have food provided, even though the pay was low.

  22. Wall Street Crash, 1929 A solemn crowd gathers outside the Stock Exchange after the Wall Street Crash of 1929

  23. Panic on the streets of New York Crowd at New York's American Union Bank during a bank run early in the Great Depression

  24. The Great Depression People lose everything – jobs, homes, savings – 1/3 of American population is unemployed

  25. Destitute Destitute families in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. In the 1930s, the American Government employed several photographers to document the effects of the Great Depression on the population of America.

  26. Over Farming and Mechanisation “Tractored out"; Power farming displaces tenants from the land in the western dry cotton area.

  27. The Dustbowl Buried machinery in Dallas during the 1936 Dust Bowl, an agricultural, ecological, and economic disaster.

  28. The Hooverville Hooverville

  29. Death of the American Dream The American Dream isthe idea that everyone in the United States has the chance to achieve success and prosperity. It is a social ideal set out in the American Declaration of Independence, 4th July, 1776. It states: “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” Click here to watch a clip from The New York Times discussing what the ‘Dream’ means to American citizens. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the dream had all but died. Poverty, starvation and massive unemployment meant that the dream was unattainable and things were even worse for blacks as America was still a racist and segregated society. Across the world the economic depression led to political instability with the rise of fascism in Italy, the Spanish Civil War and the emergence of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.

  30. Dreams This table will help you keep track of the theme of dreams in the novel. Copy it then complete it as you read through the book.

  31. Links with themes How are dreams presented in OMAM? Fragile: symbolised by creatures carelessly killed by Lennie Necessary: as a source of hope Foolish: believing sets up for a greater fall Relentless: as a common and unstoppable human attribute Unattainable: simply ideals; removed from reality Limited: certain groups excluded from the American dream Enriching: lend life meaning DAD …conclusion: only fools chase dreams