John Steinbeck's American Dreams
Lopez, Jessica C.P.
Hutchisson, James M.
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Americans have long held notions about the American Dream, and John Steinbeck's works illustrate the successes and failures of the Dream within society. In particular, The Long Valley collection of short stories contains many different experiences of the American Dream. Each of the characters in the stories experiences a different version of the Dream based upon their ethnicity, economic position, and gender. Steinbeck used his observational abilities and concise writing style to portray the complex experience of the American Dream, which can be recognized and understood through detailed investigation of the characters. Investigation also reveals that the characters are limited in their potential and often struggle to find their place in America, a promised land of opportunity, which often provided little opportunities, if any, to those not already firmly established within American society. The study of The Long Valley also highlights the importance and influence that these stories have on Steinbeck's writing, as the stories provided the foundational beginning for many of his later works.