UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

L’échec du rêve américain : Volkswagen Blues, Une histoire américaine, On the Road et Detroit: An American Autopsy Cyr, Jason


This thesis investigates the failure of the American Dream through historical contexts, in particular that pertaining to African-American history, as well as by way of a corpus comprised of four main books, two by Québécois authors and two by American authors. These books include the following: Volkswagen Blues by Jacques Poulin, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Une histoire américaine by Jacques Godbout and Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff. Throughout the analysis conducted within this thesis, the failure of the American Dream was the main focus of discussion, both within literature and historically. The first part of the thesis is dedicated to the definition of the American Dream and who may achieve it. In general, anyone may accomplish it, however, whites, both historically and contemporarily, tend to have a better chance of doing so. The thesis then takes a historical look at the failure of the American Dream, specifically by way of the inequalities exemplified throughout African-American history from the 18th century to the present in comparison to the mistreatments of Québécois at the hands of Anglophone Canada. The next part takes a look at the failure of the American Dream from a literary point of view, demonstrating how the United States may at first glance seem to exemplify the realization of the American Dream. However, after further analysis, this American Dream turns out to be a failure due to many factors including government corruption, corporate greed and racial inequality. It was concluded that whether someone will achieve the American Dream depends on who is asked as well as their cultural, racial, social, economic, and historical backgrounds among other factors. In the end, the question one must ask oneself is the following: Does the concept of the American Dream still exist today?

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