Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sonja Maier on the Alger Myth

This is book about criticism of the american dream, and how it cannot be achieved and yet it is still promoted. There is a certain chapter within the book that discusses Horatio Alger Jr.'s myth, this chapter gives me a general disagreement to the myth in saying that it is not possible to achieve today stating that it is a 'myth of the american dream'. The author tries to gain popularity over Alger, by describing the author's allegations over pedophilia, she not only wants the reader to disagree with Alger's work, but also as a person as well.

Sonja explores how Alger's stories has their flaws in dealing with the 'dream', saying that his novels 'ignores factors like gender, race, class background, national origin and sexual behavior that determine our social position'. In other words Sonja illustrates how Alger has not specified how everyone can achieve their goals, and only describes how a young white male will cope in society. Sonja feels that today, working class young white males are not the group that will benefit from this 'dream'.

Sonja's text also includes the views on Hunter S. Thompson (an american journalist and author of the book The Rum Diary) and Harlon L. Dalton (professor of Law at Yale university), the latter
agreeing with Maier's analysis, stating "there is a fundamental between the promise of opportunity enshrined by Alger myth and the realities of a racial caste system". On relflection of these views I feel they have a poignant issue in saying how Alger's myth only applies to a certain typecast, rather than promoting to a wider audience. This is true in my opinion, however we must take into account that these novels were made for a particular social group, therefore there would be no need for external characters.

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