A Dream Deferred No Longer
On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of 2 years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible to request work authorization. Deferred action is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.
A Dream Deferred No Longer
What happens if your dreams are never deferred? If you lived your life to its full potential? If you did more than just wonder what could be? This piece is for those determined to go one step beyond dreaming.
This should involve an appreciation of the dismal performance of the continent on the question of African unity. Accordingly, in what follows I would like to highlight the road that post-independence leaders pursued and how it led to the betrayal of the promises of liberation and hence the dream of unity as well as the catastrophic consequence of this failure of the post-independence political class. In the process, I also hope to identify the major factors that impeded substantive progress towards the dream of the unification of people of the continent.
The birth of the OAU coincides with the emergence of the Cold War, which shaped global politics and indeed the relationship of the newly independent African states to global powers. In many ways, the OAU of the Cold War period can appropriately be considered as a period that manifested the betrayal of the dream of unity.
It was not anchored on a firm ideological conviction on the part of both the post-independence and subsequent political leadership of the continent. The leaders with the required conviction and vision were very few and far in between. Many others declared their conviction to African unity in public but did everything and conspired with others to exactly impede and frustrate the unification of the continent. The dream of African unification also lacked constituency among the wider public on the continent. In the years following the establishment of the OAU, it was made a reserve of a self serving political class with very limited, if any, presence in the works and practice of civil society, the media, public intellectuals of the continent.
But most of Turkish basketball history is filled with disappointment and sorrow. The day the Olympic dream was shattered with a heart-breaking loss against a not-so-shiny Greece was just another piece in a long chain of events. Like the brand itself, it looked somehow the national team was exhausted too.
Eventually, it all came down to two things: hero balling and transition/semi-transition plays. The problem is: the latter becomes effective if one can have defensive stops, which was an entirely different chapter of failure in Turkey's broken Olympic dream.
Yannick Grijalba would seem perfectly suited to benefit from the immigration policy reform announced by the Obama Administration on June 15, one that will postpone the threat of deportation for many young people living in the United States without government authorization. According to his profile in an Associated Press article, Yannick arrived in northern California from Guatemala 11 years ago, speaks fluent English, and became an honor-roll student at his high school, where he was a member of the wrestling team. Now 18, he dreams of going to a university so he can study architecture.
This is good news for those who want to see Barack Obama win another four years in the White House. But it provides little solace to the likes of Yannick Grijalba, now living in Guatemala City, jobless and without money, with an aunt, a pair of uncles, and two cousins, far away from his home in California, his dreams deferred and perhaps destroyed.
In any case, the novel, just by being set in the 1920s, is unlikely to present an optimistic view of the American Dream, or at least a version of the dream that's inclusive to all genders, ethnicities, and incomes. With that background in mind, let's jump into the plot!
In Chapter 6, we learn about Gatsby's less-than-wealthy past, which not only makes him look like the star of a rags-to-riches story, it makes Gatsby himself seem like someone in pursuit of the American Dream, and for him the personification of that dream is Daisy.
In short, things do not turn out well for our dreamers in the novel! Thus, the novel ends with Nick's sad meditation on the lost promise of the American Dream. You can read a detailed analysis of these last lines in our summary of the novel's ending.
The fact that this yearning image is our introduction to Gatsby foreshadows his unhappy end and also marks him as a dreamer, rather than people like Tom or Daisy who were born with money and don't need to strive for anything so far off.
His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy's white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete. (6.134)
...as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes--a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night." (9.151-152)
The closing pages of the novel reflect at length on the American Dream, in an attitude that seems simultaneously mournful, appreciative, and pessimistic. It also ties back to our first glimpse of Gatsby, reaching out over the water towards the Buchanan's green light. Nick notes that Gatsby's dream was "already behind him" then (or in other words, it was impossible to attain). But still, he finds something to admire in how Gatsby still hoped for a better life, and constantly reached out toward that brighter future.
Most character analysis centered on the American Dream will necessarily focus on Gatsby, George, or Myrtle (the true strivers in the novel), though as we'll discuss below, the Buchanans can also provide some interesting layers of discussion. For character analysis that incorporates the American Dream, carefully consider your chosen character's motivations and desires, and how the novel does (or doesn't!) provide glimpses of the dream's fulfillment for them.
This is especially interesting because unlike Gatsby, Myrtle, and George, who actively hope and dream of a better life, Daisy and Tom are described as bored and "careless," and end up instigating a large amount of tragedy through their own recklessness.
In other words, income inequality and the vastly different starts in life the characters have strongly affected their outcomes. The way they choose to live their lives, their morality (or lack thereof), and how much they dream doesn't seem to matter. This, of course, is tragic and antithetical to the idea of the American Dream, which claims that class should be irrelevant and anyone can rise to the top.
Let's start with Daisy, who is unhappy in her marriage and, despite a brief attempt to leave it, remains with Tom, unwilling to give up the status and security their marriage provides. At first, it may seem like Daisy doesn't dream at all, so of course she ends up unhappy. But consider the fact that Daisy was already born into the highest level of American society. The expectation placed on her, as a wealthy woman, was never to pursue something greater, but simply to maintain her status. She did that by marrying Tom, and it's understandable why she wouldn't risk the uncertainty and loss of status that would come through divorce and marriage to a bootlegger. Again, Daisy seems to typify the "anti-American" dream, in that she was born into a kind of aristocracy and simply has to maintain her position, not fight for something better.
Even Jordan Baker, who seems to be living out a kind of dream by playing golf and being relatively independent, is tied to her family's money and insulated from consequences by it, making her a pretty poor representation of the dream. And of course, since her end game also seems to be marriage, she doesn't push the boundaries of women's roles as far as she might wish.
Like me, you might immediately think "of course it wasn't worth it! Gatsby lost everything, not to mention the Wilsons got caught up in the tragedy and ended up dead!" So if you want to make the more obvious "the dream wasn't worth it" argument, you could point to the unraveling that happens at the end of the novel (including the deaths of Myrtle, Gatsby and George) and how all Gatsby's achievements are for nothing, as evidenced by the sparse attendance of his funeral.
However, you could definitely take the less obvious route and argue that Gatsby's dream was worth it, despite the tragic end. First of all, consider Jay's unique characterization in the story: "He was a son of God--a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that--and he must be about His Father's Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty" (6.7). In other words, Gatsby has a larger-than-life persona and he never would have been content to remain in North Dakota to be poor farmers like his parents.