The idea of the American Dream has dominated American literature since the founding of America. The American Dream is what people see as the life for them and how they try to fulfill it. Many people have their own idea of what the American Dream is. American writers present different views of the American Dream.
In "Old Iron Sides", Oliver Wendell Holmes depicts the optimistic-patriotic view of the American Dream. The poem talks about an American ship that has hand much experience in war. It's patriotic in the sense that "her shattered hulk should sink beneath the wave.And there should be her grave." Holmes is saying that it's better, for pride's sake, to sink a ship with her holy flag nailed to the mast than to blow it up as in defeat. Walt Whitman also supports this view in "I Hear America Singing". Whitman depicts the American Dream as pride in one's work by day, and pride in one's freedom by night. Another work that displays this view is "The Gift Outright" by Robert Frost. Frost tells of how America was ours even before we set foot on its newfound soil.
Another view of the American Dream is that it is not entirely American. Some feel left out and that the American Dream does not apply to them and is out of their reach. This view is present in "I, Too" by Langston Hughes. It tells of the "darker brother" who is forced to eat in the kitchen, out of sight of the homeowner and his company. It depicts him as not being part of America, although he really is. It also speaks of the hope he has that, tomorrow, he will be sitting at the table when company comes. This view is also evident in Angela do Hoyos' "To Walt Whitman." This poem tells Whitman of how she (representing the Hispanics) can do just as much as anyone else ever could. Chief Joseph's speech, "I Will Fight No More Forever," also portrays this view. He tells of how he is tired of fighting for his people and children, and "will fight no more forever.