"No sir, we’d have our own place where we belonged and not sleep in no bunk house."

The American Dream, c.1942
Public DomainThe American Dream, c.1942 - Credit: The Sheldon-Claire Company
George’s idyllic vision of the farm he hopes to own is a powerful image, almost Eden-like in its purity. There, the men will be able to live in peace and friendship, to be self-governed and not have to worry about taking orders or outliving their usefulness. Most importantly, it will be a home, a place to belong and to call their own. George’s dream is about freedom and autonomy, of working hard and benefiting from the results.

This is the American Dream, an idea that every person is created equal and can achieve prosperity in proportion to their own hard work. The book points out the lie behind that dream: all are not equal or born with the same opportunities, and sometimes hard work is not enough. Achieving the American Dream was a common aspiration at the time of the Great Depression but many despaired of ever making it. For most people, such a thing was completely unattainable.