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Rugged Individualism

Essay Topic:

History as we know has many ways of describing it, with all the historical events that occurred in the past it is a result of our American system. As Americans, we live in a land of opportunity and because of that we have the freedom to live . “Every individual should be able to support themselves out that wouldn’t include the government’s aid”.

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This idea was originally introduced in Herbert Hoover’s speech when he was president of the United States. Although this idea refers back during the Great Depression, Hoover believed that Americans shouldn’t be assisted somehow by the government, financially speaking.

In my perspective, I see rugged individualism as to any individual who is not being aided from the government, but also not just financially, but incentively through the mind. As I read along through books that relate to the American Dream, Hoover’s idea of rugged individualism became more visible. Similarly books like “Ragged Dick” by Horatio Alger, “The Great Gatsby” by Scott Fitzgerald and “A Raison in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry, are comparable that the idea of rugged individualism is still being used and even through today’s society.

To illustrate rugged individualism through the book Ragged Dick, Alger created a book disclosing the 19th century lifestyle of a poor boot black. In this book rugged individualism shows because of how Alger describes the motivation through his main character “Dick”. He was fourteen years young and worked as a ‘bootblack’ aka shoeshiner boy and slept in dirty torn up clothes on the streets of New York City. Alger portrayed him as any ordinary boy that lived the hard life in the streets; he smokes and drinks occasionally.

However, Dick would still practice good deeds and some gentlemen would be impressed that how would a bootblack be so humble and attentive in his work in the streets of New York. “.. He was above doing anything mean or dishonorable. He would not steal, or cheat, or impose upon younger boys, but was frank and straight-forward, manly and self-reliant. His nature was a noble one, and had saved him from all mean faults. ” Dick is a good example of someone who I thought that reflected rugged individualism.

He was brought up by himself and never had much of a role mode to look up to while growing up. He relied on himself to get customers to get their boots shined, he didn’t complain about living on the streets or how filthy is his clothes was from the work that he does. In my point of view, Dick didn’t have help from anyone, or didn’t expect anything from anyone, and if he did he would be more than grateful and smart enough to invest it in the right ways.

In the book, he was treated very well by an older man and his son, and during that time in the book he acted very humble as he explains that he lives on a cardboard box on the streets and didn’t really see that hygiene wasn’t so important to him, but what was important was how he was going to feed himself and live in the future. And as soon as he found a plan to get better at what he does he uses that money to save for an apartment and to invest in for the future. Although wealth can bring you happiness and success in life, it can also you direct you in the wrong places.

The main character of the book by Fitzgerald is Gatsby who is a wealthy man. He tries to use his wealth to attract the attention of a women named Daisy. This is not the right way of to get someone to love you but he’s also thinking that his money can bring him success of happiness. He believes that his money will make him succeed in his attempt to get Daisy to fall back in love with him. He would be known to throw the largest parties every saturday, and his guest wouldn’t even know who is he truly and why there’s a party. At that time in the early 1920’s, every person in new york city loved to party.

Furthermore Daisy likes the fancy things, the partying and it all seems so good, but her heart is still committed to her husband. Therefor Gatsby’s plan was not successful because his plan wasn’t a way of receiving love back. Rugged individualism may not seem evident, but it does in a way that Gatsby wanted to help from his money to get his dreams to come true didn’t work out. For he wanted the parties to draw her attention, even his large land and big mansion couldn’t help him to fulfill his dreams with Daisy. Lorraine Hansberry created a book that was about dreams.

In the story A Raisin in the Sun, the main characters each have their own dream that they want to fulfill. The Youngers family struggle to attain these dreams through out the end of the story. Walter who is the man of the house wants to afford things for his family and give them a decent life to live and not having to hold back for his wife and kids. There’s Beneatha his sister who wants to be a doctor and their Mama who just wants to best for their family. Although things didn’t go as planned, fights and tension between Walter and his family even his wife, things became a learning lesson to each one.

Mama always knew best, and when it all came down to one decision, it had to go Mama’s way. That Walter had to turn down the offer of a big check to keep them from staying away from living at a all-white neighborhood. This taught Walter that his son, Travis, looks up to him as the man of the family, and in the long run, his decisions will be reflected on his son. He wouldn’t want his son to think this is right. Walter was stubborn throughout the book that he just wanted to money to provide for his family, another house to live in, pearls to wear on his wife, and a better life for his son.

But Walter didn’t earn that money, it was just the life insurance of his father and he didn’t earn any of it himself. In this book Walter is the example of rugged individualism because although he was stubborn to realize that it was wrong to receive that check to not live in an all-white neighborhood. If he accepted it, the money coming in wouldn’t be because he worked hard for it, it would because he wanted the white people to have their way of keeping their neighborhood an all-white neighborhood.

But no one shouldn’t be told to live a certain area because of their skin color. So when Walter rejects the offer, he is also accepting the fact that he will have to work harder to provide, and try to uplift his family in some way. It’s better than uplifting his family in the wrong way by accepting that offer. That insurance check was tempting for Walter to accept, but he didn’t and later when his son would grow older, he can then explain to him that he has worked for every bit of that money that kept his family together.

In America today, we still struggle with people who don’t live up to the idea of “rugged individualism”. I believe it isn’t really called by that term, but people know it as the American Dream. People who aren’t familiar with both are those who think reaching your lifetime goals don’t require any effort or any struggles. For those who become millionaires are results of hard work and labor that put in to achieve in life. Anything worth having is worth fighting for, and along the path there needs to be struggles and failures, but it is still a choice to keep trying and to not give up.

History as we know has many its ways of describing it, throughout all the historical events that occurred in the past it is a result of our American system. As Americans, we live in a land of opportunity and because of that we have the freedom to live. With the three books that i’ve mentioned, they are examples of the having the opportunity to uplift themselves in their lives. In each book they have reflected to the idea called “rugged individualism” which was introduced by Herbert Hoover when he was president of the United States.

According to Hoover this idea meant that “any each individual should be able to support themselves out that wouldn’t include the government’s aid”. Even so, I see rugged individualism as to any individual who isn’t being aided from the government, but also not just financially, but incentively through the mind. As I read through the three books, each author had their ways of reflecting rugged individualism through their characters, and with the struggles and decisions they made through the books.