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In the 1950’s, the “American dream” was stemmed around the idea that anyone could have the opportunity to accomplish more success than in their native lands; for others, it was the opportunity to end up being an individual without the constraints imposed by class, race, and ethnic background. In the 1950’s, the structure of the American dream was masked by the impression of perfect white “cookie-cutter” households living in suburbia. However, unfavorable and pessimistic ideas about race and culture poisoned numerous minds, making it difficult for immigrants and minorities to recognize their own concept of the American Dream.
At the end of WWII, soldiers were coming back to their households with the desire for prosperity. With the execution of the G. I expense, many families moved from the cities into the suburban areas. Government paid programs opened up suburbia to growing varieties of middle class Americans, developing safe tasks for blue-collar employees. Suburban areas blossomed into the ideal white neighborhood, where the “American Dream” was to be recognized.
It was the idea that every boy ought to wed a young, nice woman and have beloved children.
These families would reside in the cutout home with an adorable kitchen, well-kept backyard, and the white picket fence surrounding. The father became the strong figure, striving to earn for his household; whereas, the mother would remain at home, raise the kids, and tend to her husband once he came home. With the G. I costs in impact, real estate tax were decreased considerably, making suburbia desirable for any white household.
On the surface area, this idealization might have seemed ideal, but there were lots of imperfections that resulted from this impression.
Females were objectified; they basically had to be the best other half and mom. In the 1950’s, females could not pursue their real goals, whether they wished to be CEO of a business, and even begin their own company. It was unreasonable for a woman to become the income producer of the household, for this only included to the impression of the American Dream. Women did not have the opportunity to achieve their own specific desires due to limitations troubled their “status” in society.
In Betty Friedan’s excerpt from, American Identities, she illuminates how women suffered in the 1950’s, by stating, “Each suburban wife struggled with it alone…they learned that truly feminine women do not want careers, higher education, political rights…. ”(Rudnick, 72). Friedan goes on to emphasize how societal views have caused women’s “ greatest ambition” to be marriage and children. Her biggest point eludes that “it is easy to see the concrete details that trap the suburban housewife, the continual demands on her time.
But the chains that bind her in her trap are chains of mistaken ideas and misinterpreted facts, of incomplete truths and unreal choices” (Rudnick, 76). In addition, white men may have seemed to have the perfect job with the perfect family; however, supporting an entire family and working constantly dampens the surface view of the American dream. As a result of the “white-flight,” the cities were open to those who desired a better life in America. The concept of the American dream enticed immigrants to leave their countries, and have a new start in a better place.
With the masses of immigrants coming to the country, high-rise buildings in the cities were set up to house their needs. With the yearning of a new life, immigrants took on low wage jobs and cramped up in housing projects, only soon to see that the American Dream was not so ideal. American life became extremely difficult with the influx of immigrants, as property taxes increased and job wages substantially decreased. The cities became segregated by the ethnic groups that occupied them; this in turn only added to the hardship that immigrants faced.
In Jack Agueros’ excerpt from, American Identities, he explains how his father emigrated from Puerto Rico in search of a better life, but was soon to find out that city life was tough. “Into an ancient neighborhood came pouring four to five times more people than it had been designed to hold. Men who came running at the promise of jobs were jobless…the sudden surge in numbers caused new resentments, and prejudice was intensified” (Rudnick, 97).
Along with struggling to support their families, the segregation of the city turned into ghettos, where violence between ethnic groups surfaced. The safe cities that were once filled with white families were now dangerous and defined by territories. The American Dream was left to be desired for immigrants, as families struggled just to survive and meet their basic needs. Along with the hardships faced by many immigrants, African Americans were unable to pursue the American Dream because of societies discriminatory thoughts of colored individuals.
African Americans were the backbone of the typical American family in the 1950’s, as they kept suburban houses clean and took care of white families’ children. African Americans took on low-wage jobs and were unable to realize their dream of freedom until the Civil Rights movement. Because of the basic principle of segregation, African Americans were seen as inferior, and that by itself builds upon the illusion of the “American dream. ” African American’s did not have the opportunity to prosper in society or have a chance to take on their individual desires.
Although the 1950’s may have provided a more family friendly economic and social environment, greater optimism existed, even among many individuals and groups who were in terrible circumstances. The post war economic boom gave way to the 1950’s where a majority of Americans could begin to dream of a new life without fear of societies constraints. However, for many this dream was not fully recognized due to negative views on race and class, which ultimately contributed to the hardships that many immigrants and minorities experienced.
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