Typical American Essay

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Striving for the American Dream For hundreds of years, people from foreign countries have been immigrating to the United States in pursuit of one common goal—to achieve the American dream. The novel, Typical American, by Gish Jen explores this same journey of a Chinese man named Ralph Chang, his sister Theresa, and his wife Helen as they experience life in America. Ralph’s original intention of immigrating to America was to earn his college degree, but as we find as the novel progresses, he becomes influenced by other people, which causes his dreams to be altered. Through reading this book, I have come to realize that while our dreams might change, we are always striving toward accomplishing something great. In the beginning of the novel, we find Ralph on his journey to the United States with the aspiration in mind to earn his PhD. At this point in history, many immigrants came to this country to further their education. I think this is still a very common dream. While reflecting on what the typical “American Dream” actually is, it’s hard to come up with one straight answer. In general, I think immigrants come to the United States in search of new opportunities, education, prosperity, and to ultimately be successful. In order to do that, Ralph feels that he needs his PhD. When I was younger, my dreams consisted of going to the same grade school, high school, and college as my mother, becoming both an art teacher and a clown, and to have a million kids. Already in my teenage years, my dreams have changed from sophomoric and childish wishes to more successful and prosperous ideals. Similar to Ralph’s, my main goal is to further my education in college—and I don’t mean clown college. As the novel progresses and Ralph’s dreams transform, we find that these changes are caused by certain negative things in his life. He becomes selfish and money-hungry due to the

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