Every young boy dreams at some point of being a famous foot-ball player, astronaut, or fireman. But how often do these unrealistic expectations come true? It’s this rarity that has prompted one of the longest standing debates in American history. People have questioned the American Dream since the day it was born. Its advocators are there, but number few in comparison. Two excellent examples are Arthur Miller's play The Death of a Salesman and the more recent film from Angelo Pizzo’s, “Rudy.” Each of the two works opposes the opinion of the other, providing for some interesting comparison. One of the pieces must certainly have the correct opinion, but unfortunately they are both invalid. Very few of the works that deal with the reality of the American Dream give it, or its opponents a fair chance and some decent consideration. In this case, the problems lie with the dreams that are portrayed, the hypocrisy in which they depict getting to that dream, and the lack of consideration they gave to actually accomplishing that dream.
If every young boy who dreamed of being a professional football player grew up to one day be that athlete, America would be pathetic. By no means is football bad, considering the entertainment and enjoyment it gives the other hard working Americans. The problem arises with a situation such as the Cold War. If the designers of America’s defense systems had spent their lives preoccupied with football, America would not be the only surviving superpower. Instead, its population would consist mainly of skeletons buried several feet down in a desolate, vast desert of radioactive sand. This is not the American dream. It never was, nor ever will be. Clearly the idea of success should, naturally and also for the sake of common sense, differ from person to person. If people want to be astro-nuclear-rocket-scientists, so be it. Not only does it help them to be happier by living the career they want, but it contributes to the success of America. The goal of a country of course, should never be to destroy itself. The two aforementioned shows are both guilty of this corrupt logic. Rudy spent his whole life dreaming of being a football player. Surely there is nothing wrong with such a goal. There is something wrong when it is considered that Willy Loman spent much of his pre-adult life as a football player. He had some sense knocked into him upon entering the real world, but it could very well be argued that football was his dream for the first twenty years of his life. These two works are not alone, as several other of the famous works on the subject also make significant mention of football being a defining factor of success. Obviously it’s a common notion among these writers that it is; if it were, then of course the dream is corrupt! If the dream really was the typical white-picket-fence, then of course it would be corrupt! But these ideas are ridiculous, and it needs to be considered that life can go on without football. Getting to be a football player for a college or professional team is very rare, and it must be known that it takes an interesting mix of determination and ‘dumb-luck’ to get where Rudy did the way he did.
Getting to the goal of life-time achievement is by no stretch of the imagination a small task. It is by all means daunting at the least (albeit possible to almost anyone who goes about it correctly). Being such an integral part of the topic, it must therefore be included in any argument, for or against the dream, in order for it to be a fair and balanced look at the subject. The audience certainly feels pity for Willy Loman when only his later life is considered. He worked with the company for so many years, did as much as he could, and he still lost everything. So why is this corrupt logic? Because lifetime achievement takes a lifetime of achievement. Willy Loman spent the first half of his life with the completely wrong values. He simply can not expect to turn his whole mindset around one day and have everything turn out the way he planned. As unmerciful as it sounds, there has to be a cut-off point somewhere. The dream is indeed possible to anyone, but not those who waste half their life and make stupid decisions. Rudy is even worse a case. He should be given credit for his attitude at least; his whole life was filled with enthusiasm and determination. Where he went wrong was when acted on that determination, which just happened to be never. He didn’t work as hard as he could have done in High School, just to cite one example. The only reason he got as far as he did is that he was given a leg-up at almost every step of the way. This is not implying that giving one another leg-ups should be forbidden in America, but rather that they should never be planned on. The situation worsens yet, when it is realized that Rudy, who has just peaked in life, now faces a future much like Willy Loman’s adult life.
From what is seen of Rudy’s life, it can easily be concluded that the final game of his senior year at Notre-Dame was the climactic point of his life. Certainly the audience is happy for Rudy when he finally achieves this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but they would not be if they had any idea of what was to come. If everything Rudy had ever done was to get here, how prepared was he now to move on? He did have the degree, but that was a side effect. If the previously outlined logic is to be followed, the degree should count as nothing more than a bonus. It wasn’t planned on. It never entered his way of thinking until he had his final talk with the groundskeeper. Good grades were just the means of getting to football. Willy Loman parallels this yet again. He would die without ever having accomplished what he said was his dream, to become a respected, well-known, and honorable salesman. That was his second dream. He grew up dreaming of popularity in high school, and while he achieved this, the lack of consideration he gave to his future only led to his downfall. Clearly the mistakes made by each author does nothing more than undermine their point.
The fact that somebody in this world of almost seven-billion can somehow conceive a situation in which an event could possibly occur, does not mean that it does. “Rudy” was based on a true story, and maybe The Death of a Salesman was too (although not specifically stated). But in that very same world of almost seven-billion creative minds, that means very little. More needs to be done in that world of philosophy if society is ever going to come to steady conclusion about whether or not the dream is alive.