Analysis Of How Attainable Is The American Dream For The Average Person In A State Like Hawaii

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In the history of the American theater there have been many plays written, but two that stand out for their portrayal of the American dream are A Raisin in the sun and Death of a Salesman. In both plays, the protagonists are trying to achieve this dream, but neither of them has the respect or support of the people around them. It is astonishing that two different plays written 10 years apart can have such similarity. Time has passed since these plays were written and life has changed as well. They are relics of an era that has already passed but the dream still remains a cherished memory for some and is it obtainable in a high cost of living state like Hawaii.

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The American Dream is the ideals of freedom, equality and opportunity traditionally held to be available to all Americans, These authors lived in a time when the economy was great. By the end of A Raisin in the Sun the Younger family has in a way achieved the American Dream due to the fact that they now own a home. But they did not earn the money themselves the way many people do, they got insurance money after the Father passed away. In the end of Death of a Salesman after Willie dies Linda gets the insurance money, because Willie could not achieve his American Dream like his brother, Willie chooses to commit suicide. The American Dream was possible for many in their own skewed version. Let us take look at the cost of homes during this period. The average cost of a home in the 1940’s was $8,450 and in the 1950’s it was $12,700. When we look at how much Lena put down on the home in A Raisin in the Sun we see she paid a minimal amount and that tells us just what is indicated in the script notes that the play takes place sometime after World War II when prices for homes were even lower. The median cost of a single family home in 2017 was $256,000 for homes in the mainland and is projected that home prices will go up 6. 5% within the year. On the island of Oahu the average cost of a single family home is $718,000 as of December 2018 and climbing every year. The average salary for a person from those time periods was between $4000 and 6000 a year. The median salary or money earn per year in the mainland for a person working 40 hours a week was $44,148.

We also need to look at the job market then versus now at the end of World War II and up until the 1970’s we had a strong work force and strong economy. The unemployment rate has been 4. 1% for the past four months and 6. 7 million people are unemployed in the United States. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistic Hawaii’s unemployment rate is only 2. 0 as of December 2017 and only 13,561 people without jobs. The job market is back on the rise in 2009 in Hawaii the highest unemployment average was 7. 3%. Since President Trump has taken office our economy is showing major growth and is clawing its way back from the recession in 2011. What does that mean for those of us that are working and making decent money but live in a place like Hawaii. Hawaii has been in constantly listed as one of the most expensive states to live in. Our cost of living here is ridiculous, we pay more for everything. For example I pay on the average $220. 00 for my electric bill a month and for water it is the same then you have to add in all the other expense which on an average at the end of the month end up to be about $3100. 00 This includes my rent of course which has gone up due to high property taxes which are forcing landlords to raise rent. The property tax rates went up 45% for properties worth up to one million and nine percent for properties above a million. I don’t think state thinks about the people that live and work here and are the backbone of the state’s economy. They raise the taxes and leave us to fend for ourselves. My complaint is that art tends to make things seem better than they are and give people false hope. In A Raisin in the Sun the younger family is scene to get their peace of the American Dream. When you really look at it they do not because the money they get the father had to die for them to obtain it, they did not earn it or work for it. It is the same for Death of a Salesman; Linda did not earn the money to obtain the American Dream. Willie had to kill himself so she could get the insurance money. Willie killed himself because he could not obtain the American Dream.

We also have to look at how we the marginalization of our society as we think of the American Dream. We tend to shy away from issues of social class when we speak of the American Dream in current times, but authors and writers like Lorraine Hansberry and Arthur Miller did not. Both families were lower middle class and one of the families was a minority. Social status I believe helps when it comes to money and if you are born it to wealth you can maintain that status and continue to be wealthy. But when you come from the lower middle class or the middle class we have to climb our way to the top. I am not saying that the American Dream is unobtainable some but for all it is. With the cost of housing the way it is especially here in Hawaii with homes so expensive how the average Joe is supposed to afford a house for his family of four. The American Dream should be something we all want in our own way and in a way we have earned it for ourselves. My argument is that these characters and many of us in society think we deserve what others have earned. There are those of us who want what we cannot have like Willie Loman.

Willie wanted to be rich like his brother, who owned a diamond mine. Willie worked in a mundane job and did not try to excel, this lead to his depression and him killing himself. Walter Younger wanted to start his American Dream but had no support from his family and they disregarded his dreams. We have to look back at the poem that is in the beginning of the play by Langston Hughes. Has the dream really been deferred? Has the dream dried up for our generation? For many Americans the housing market crash in 2008 killed our hopes for dreams of buying a home.

Many homes were foreclosed on a many people lost their piece of the American Dream. The foreclosure did not only affect the people whose homes were taken but their neighbors and put a little chink in their American Dream, because their property values took a hit.

The American Dream is it really a myth? I think for some of us it is because we do not have the means to obtain it. Those of us who live in a place like Hawaii with an outrageous cost of living and high cost for property I think it is impossible unless we move to the mainland. Hawaii has a large domestic migration problem due to the cost of living. Between 2014 and 2017 30,237 people have left Hawaii for another state. The reason is the high cost of living here and the fact that the economy is strong in the mainland. I was speaking to my friend Jason who has lived here in Hawaii for twenty three years. We discussed how we both have the idea of leaving Hawaii. For Jason and his family the mainland is his opportune choice due to his career field and his wives. For my family we would go where ever we fit in best due to my career field and the needs of my children.

I constantly find myself looking for higher paying jobs or hoping that I get a promotion to help me maintain my life here and I enjoy my life here and living in Hawaii but the financial constraints are tough. As I stated before we see that our cost of living is high and that some struggle here just like me and my family. Is your version of the dream obtainable here in Hawaii, who knows but you? I think that my American Dream obtainable, but not here. The American Dream is only a myth here in Hawaii if you want to get your piece of the pie move the mainland where you can survive and save the money you earn. The arts and mainstream entertainment dilute the big picture and show us what we want to see and not what is really there. The dream is not dried up I just cannot find it here in Hawaii.

10 October 2020

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