Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Analysis of the American Reality, Possibility, and Dream found in "Nickel and Dimed" and "The Outsiders" College

Every American is familiar with the concept of the American Dream. It is the social myth at the very core of the nation’s identity. Unlike other countries, the United States is not rooted in a shared ancestry, history, or language. Instead, Americans find their unity in a common aspiration—the hope of a better future for themselves and their children in the Land of Opportunity. This is the vision that drove the Puritans to brave the sea, inspired the founding fathers to sign the Declaration of Independence, and continues to bring immigrants teeming into the country. The American Dream is deeply rooted in the culture and psyche of the United States and its citizens. It is a common theme in literature as American authors struggle to interpret the social myth in light of reality.

One of the most beloved discussions and deconstructions of the American Dream is a novel written by Susan Eloise Hinton when she was only sixteen. The Outsiders chronicles the story of seven boys and their struggle to overcome the stereotypes forced on them by their community. Through the eyes of adolescence, Hinton analyzes the American Dream by addressing the gulfs that separate the Dream from reality, and the reality from the possibility of...

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