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The American Dream

             The pursuit and the obsession of materialistic goods, luxuries, status, and wealth valued for reasons other than their function or artistry can only lead to spiritual and emotional emptiness. They do not bring joy or meaning, and in fact, will lead you away from it. In both "American Beauty" and The Great Gatsby, the characters emphasize this statement by putting the pursuit of the American Dream over everything else in this world.
             The pursuit of the Almighty dollar, status, superficial beauty and other luxuries and new innovations leads people to neglect their relationship with others. In "American Beauty" both Lester and Carolyn neglect their daughter, Jane, after both decide to pursue new journeys. Carolyn becomes obsessed with trying to become a great real estate agent and has an affair with Buddy Kane, her so-called competitor in the real estate field. Lester too, neglects Jane as he is more concerned about his physical status to impress Jane's friend Angela than caring for his own daughter. When Jane complains to Carolyn, she lashes out at her telling her she should be happy she has "nice things" and that she should be "grateful that she doesn't live in a duplex." Jane, like most children, wants to have a good healthy relationship with her parents, rather than having material goods.
             In The Great Gatsby Myrtle Wilson also exemplifies how people neglect their relationships when she desires Tom Buchanan and his money. She would rather have Tom then her own husband George Wilson. In Chapter Two, we see that Myrtle can't keep her hands off Tom while George goes into the other room; she just wants to be with Tom and his money. She doesn't even want Tom; she just wants his money, even though Tom hits her at that party. She doesn't care; she just wants to be rich and get rid of the man who actually cares about her. It is sick that people care more about money than they do about their own family.

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