The Directive for the American Dream
Robert Frost is one of the most popular poets in America. He was known as the favorite poet of the country’s citizens (Hollander). In “Directive”, one of his popular works, Frost became controversial as the interpretation of the poem actually suggested that in order to find one’s self; one has to get lost first.
This may be true as there is no necessity to find something which is not lost. However, by claiming this in his poem, it has been said that Frost has presented to his audience the modern version of the American dream. The American Dream
The concept, American Dream, began from the writer James Truslow Adams. He used it in his book, “Epic of America”, which was published in 1931. The concept referred to that dream or vision of a land in which life is better, richer, and fuller for all people. The opportunities in this land are according to each person’s ability and accomplishments. It is not merely a dream of people to have high-end properties and earn high salaries; instead it is a vision of a social order in which all men and women may be able to achieve the fullest stature that their innate capability may bring them.
This is regardless of concepts that are relative to fate or destiny, like circumstances of birth or position (“What is the American Dream”). During the 30’s, the century in which this work was published, the American dream actually started to become vague. Although there were people who believed strongly in the American dream, there were also those who slowly lost faith. America was then under the great depression and its economy was at a very low status; thus, the vision of the American dream seemed rather obscure (Sutton). However, as the time passed, the cloudiness of the vision started to clear up.
America slowly got to its feet again and the dreamers, who woke up during the great depression, began to dream again. Today the dream is still on-going and the dreamers have now grown to multitudes. From Americans who believed their founding fathers, the dream has already spread to other countries (Sutton). Foreigners who continued to enter America were said to have been armed with their American dream. They come into the country, with the desire to earn for themselves and their families and to achieve greater. This is then current generation’s view of the American dream (Bohan).
This may be what Frost was referring to in his poem. It may be remembered that the poem, “Directive” was about a speaker telling someone that he can accompany him around, direct him somewhere. But there is a huge probability that he may only take the person to the wrong destination as indicated by this line, “if you’ll let a guide direct you/ Who only has at heart your getting lost” (Frost). This may point that Frost was trying to tell his audience that in order for a person to find his true destination, he must first get lost.
In the earlier part of the poem the speaker described the places that the person he will be accompanying may go through. It is an old town, where everything is dilapidated and destroyed. The roads were once walked on yet no longer visited and patronized. It is a place that people has deserted (Frost). This may be comparable to the fact that when foreign migrants start to envision something great for themselves and decides to transfer to America, he leaves behind the home he once knew. The deserted place may refer to the life the migrants once had. It was tattered, of not the best quality, and very poor.
Now the journey that the poem is referring to may be the travel in order to achieve the American dream. This may refer to the part of the migrant’s life where he enacts the dream and tries to fulfill it. In the poem, this is the line that says, ‘Make yourself up a/cheering song of how /Someone’s road home from work this once was, /Who may be just ahead of you on foot” (Frost). It indicates that many have done the same things and many have dreamed the same dream and have embarked on the journey. They left their home, their old lives, and even their identities.
The way that the migrants left their identities behind is the notion of ‘lost’ that was being referred to by Frost in his work. Paralleling this to the American dream, it should be noted that foreign people enter the country to work and the citizens have the tendency to discriminate. These immigrants are not only viewed unequally by the citizens; they are also treated unequally by those who employ them. One common instance is the case of the Mexican laborers who are paid with lower wages but given bigger and more difficult jobs than American laborers.
People seem to have this notion that when the work is done by Mexicans, it can be as good and efficient but not as costly. This notion is directly related to their racial affiliations (La Botz). The fact that when they are seen this way denotes that they have already lost their dignity and themselves. There seems to be no hope if this kind of situation is examined, however, as the poem indicates, “And if you’re lost enough to find yourself/ By now, pull in your ladder road behind you/ And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.
/Then make yourself at home” (Frost), the drawback is not without a price. After being lost, the person finally finds his destination. Relative to the immigrant workers, the destination is the fulfillment of their American dream. Given this, it may then be concluded that using various symbolic words such as destinations, lost, and home in the poem “Directive”, Robert Frost was able to present to the public his idea on modern American Dream. He was able to expose to his readers that the modern American dream involves getting lost and finding one’s self again as narrated in his poem.
He was also able to pinpoint that this generation’s American dream is no longer limited to the citizens of the country but also to foreigners who are willing to get lost in order to find themselves finally. Works Cited Bohan, RT. 2008. “Immigrants and the American Dream”. Liberty in America. 30 April 2009 <http://www. nolanchart. com/article4019. html>. Frost, Robert. 2009. “Directive”. Poets. org. 30 April 2009 < http://www. poets. org/viewmedia. php/prmMID/20521 >. Hollander, John. 2009. “A Close Look at Robert Frost”.
Poets. org. 30 April 2009 < http://www. poets. org/viewmedia. php/prmMID/15894 >. La Botz, Dan. 1992. “Labor in Mexico”. multinationalmonitor. org. 30 April 2009 < http://multinationalmonitor. org/hyper/issues/1992/11/mm1192_13. html >. Sutton, Bettye. 2008. “American Cultural History”. Lonestar College Kingwood. 30 April 2009 < http://kclibrary. lonestar. edu/decade30. html >. “What is the American Dream. ” 2002 The Library of Congress. 30 April 2009 < http://lcweb2. loc. gov/learn/lessons/97/dream/thedream. html >.