Crevecoueur, in his essay ‘What is an American’ attempts to carve out a unique identity for the ‘American’, an identity that would unify the dwellers of this sprawling country under one roof while at the same time it establishes its differences from Europe from where it derives most of its numbers. Crevecoueur describes the country as the great melting pot of the world, a place where a truly diverse set of people come together and forgetting religious, social, economic, national as well as linguistic differences are molten into one, that is, an American.
The process of becoming one forgetting all differences involves the common pursuit of what has since then come to be known as ‘the American Dream’. America, the land of equality, liberty and opportunity welcomes every new arrival on its shores with open arms. The new arrival, in his/her turn, grateful for all that this new country has to offer, internalizes the American Dream, and in the midst of his/her pursuit of an honest, respectable, free and happy life becomes an American leaving his/her previous identity behind.
The concept that is America has come a very long way from the time of Crevecoueur. Now, the ‘American’ identity in the guise of a ‘green card’ is perhaps the most sought after throughout the world. Being an ‘American’ is no longer just an opportunity to be grabbed freely, it is privileged bestowed upon the best and brightest from all over the world. However, some things never change.
America still remains the great melting pot of the world. Even more so in the present, for unlike in Crevecouer’s times, it is not only the Europeans or different sects of Christianity that arrive at the shores of this ‘land of dreams’ but people from every possible nation and belonging to every possible religion co-habit in peace sharing in on the modern day versions of the ‘American Dream’.
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