California Dreams and Realities

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Alisyn Jones English 1A Professor Enciso 09-07-2009 Analyzing California: A Place, a People, a Dream Has the California dream turned into the California nightmare? In James J Rawls’ California: A Place, a People, a Dream (1986 with Claudia K Jurmain), the golden state is portrayed as a land of abounding opportunity and almost guaranteed success. Its image is one of a place full of “ranch houses, redwood decks and patios, outdoor barbecues and kidney shaped swimming pools” (pg. 23). This replaced the older image of miners in the 1800’s scooping out handfuls of gold with little effort. Its emotional appeal seems to lie in its ability to deliver on a promise of “success, warmth, sunshine and beauty, health and long life, freedom …” (pg 23). From early times, California was seen as a Mecca of sorts for people from the snow-bound East and Midwest. One Midwestern newcomer wrote in the 30’s “I’d get letters from friends that had settled here … I’d hear about the orange groves and palms … sunny days and cool nights and how the only snow you saw was miles off in the mountains – well I was sick of the prairie landscape and stoking the fire all winter and frying all summer and the first chance I got, I boarded a train to find out if this country came up to brag.” (pg 23). This man was one of millions of people who almost literally saw California as a separate country, one that could put an end to whatever it was that troubled them. One writer even went so far as to ask the question “Why should anyone die out here? They’ll never get any closer to heaven.” (Steward Edward White pg 25). Millions of Californians in the present context may not agree with the concept that this is heaven or even close to it. Many would go so far as to clearly call it hell. Any feel that the California dream is rapidly turning into the California nightmare. That is, if it hasn’t done so

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