Stephen Cruz, a Mexican man, strives to succeed in the business world but soon recognizes that his minority social class hinders his progress up the corporate ladder. He begins to doubt his beliefs and contemplate the definition of success within corporate America. Sadly, his experience reveals that the American dream, which he once believed in, is merely a fantasy. The oral history “Studs Terkel” by Stephen Cruz highlights the discrepancy between the intended inclusivity of the American dream and its harsh reality.
Determining a person’s status in America has become more challenging due to factors such as their clothing choices, the cars they drive, their political and religious beliefs, and the color of their skin. Social class acts as a barrier that hampers non-traditional class types from achieving success. Despite some people’s denial, social class continues to play a significant role in American society, with distinct upper and lower classes still present. This is evident in the elusive nature of the American dream which is now influenced by a select few individuals (Terkel 357).
Despite America’s ongoing efforts to promote higher education as a means to enhance knowledge and improve economic standing, a newspaper article highlights the increasing significance of a four-year college degree in today’s society (Scott and Leonhardt par 63). However, Cruz holds a contrasting belief that education does not play a crucial role in achieving the American dream, stating “The American dream, I now realize, is shaped not by education, opportunity, and hard work, but by power and fear” (Terkel 356).
Regardless of hard work and merits, both selections demonstrate the difficulty of escaping one’s social class. While success stories exist, often portrayed in media or newspapers, these instances shouldn’t overshadow the reality that achieving economic mobility is more challenging than most Americans acknowledge. Effectively, the American dream remains reserved for a specific group within American society.