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Debunking the American Dream

 Debunking the American Dream: Latin American Isolation in Daniel Venegas’s “The Adventures of Don Chipote” and Jose Marti’s “Coney Island”        


             Latin Americans who come to the United States do not always have the experience that they expect. The idea of the American Dream is a misleading one for these immigrants. While in their home country, they do not have all of the information of what the United States are really like. Therefore, it becomes very easy to be misled and to get the idea that the grass is always greener on the other side. This idea is infact not the reality for Latin American immigrants. People decide to come to the United States with high hopes that they will be able to make their lives better. There is a misconception about this country that it is some sort of utopia in which everyone is able to achieve wealth and happiness. This is not always the case, especially for immigrants. They have a uniquely difficult time because they often come here with nothing. The obstacles in their way are immense; including acclimating into a new environment, looking for work, and trying to maintain a stable place to live. Daniel Venegas wrote a story about these realities of the lives of Latinos who come to the United States. Venegas writes,

And the damned Pitacio, realizing that he could swing a few days of grub from his stories, went on to spin a thousand yarns that ended up twisting Don Chipote’s mind. Of course he didn’t bother to mention how hungry he’d been. Nor did he say a word about the mistreatment he had suffered at the hands of his bosses while working on the traque. Instead he focused brilliantly- and solely- on his good fortune (402).

The character in his story, Don Chipote, is easily misled about the experience of Pitacio in the United States. Pitacio lies to Don Chipote and makes him believe that he had a life of smooth sailing to success in the United States. However, he chose not relate to Don Chipote the hardships that he faced. Pitacio went to the United States with little money, and was starving. In addition, he faced abuse at the hands of his bosses, and he did not have a pleasant experience. “he focused…solely on his good fortune” (402). This relates the idea that the immigrants do not take into account the fact thet they might not ahve a better life in the United STates. The idea of coming here and having, easier life, and reaching the American Dream is so engrained in people’s way of thinking that no one considers the possibility if failure. These lies are what convinced Don Chipote that he should go the the United States. He was a hardworking man who was able to support his family with the work that he was doing. Although they did not lead an extravagent lifestyle, they had what they needed. However, Don Chipote went to the United states with false pretenses of being able to make easy money and improve his life. This story mimics the reality of many people who immigrate to the United States believing that the streets will be paved in gold, and then their hopes are crushed. The character of Pitacio personifies the false hope that these immigrants have before thya come here. They believe in the American Dream, only to realize that it may just be a dream for them.


            The experience of the Latin American immigrant in the United States presents itself as a difficult one. An intense longing for their origin grips them, due to the lifestyle difference between Latin America and the United States. In addition, the absence of friends and family contribute to the feeling of homesickness and loneliness. There is a theme of isolation that plays out. The fact that they have come to the United States on thier own is a struggle. It is them against this new environment, and they have trouble acclimating. This quote shows that no matter how impressive the United States seems to be when they arrive, that feeling goes away and turns into isolation. Jose Marti wrote about the Latino experience in the United States, particularly in Coney Island, New York. He explains,

But a melancholy sadness, as it were, takes hold of our men of Latin American countries who live here, for they seek each other in vain and no matter how much their first impression may have lured their senses, charmed their eyes, dazzled and puzzled their reason, they are finally possessed by the anguish of solitude, while the homesickness of a superior spiritual world invades them and grieves them (270).

Marti speaks about the sadness of the Latin American’s situation in the United States. He describes Coney Island as dazzling and puzzling, however, he does not give it any meaning. He says that the Latinos are homesick for “superior spirituality.” Therefore, while Americans who are from New York are satisfied with this flashy spectacle, he finds it to be lacking. Marti paints the people of Coney Island as if they do not know what they are missing. They are blissfully ignorant and happy without anything that is truly meningful, but rather they take pleasure in the sparkling lights of the city. He wishes to go back to his roots, and to enjoy something that is meaningful to him and his native culture. The man in this story sees the things that bring pleasure to the New Yorkers as being insignificant. They are not particularly associated with anything that he considers to have any meaning or substance. He cannot seem to associate anything that he sees with spirituality or purpose. This makes him feel very alone because, in his homeland everything had a special meaning to him. This is also important because, while all of this is going on around him, he cannot find anyone that he would see as being like him. He feels like a solitary man who has no one to connect to. While all of the native New Yorkers are enjoying the hustle and bustle, Marti watches from the sidelines like an outsider. He does not see anyone who is also Latino, and who shares his point of view. While this new culture that he immersed himself in prizes the material things, he searches in vain for something meaningful to him.


Marti, Jose. “Coney Island.”  Louis A Baralt. Trans. The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Ed. Ilan Stavans. Et Al. New York: WW Norton and Company, 2011. 268-71. Print.

Venegas, Daniel. From The Adventures Of Don Chipote: Or a Sucker’s Tale. Ilan Stavans and Harold Augenbraum. Trans. The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature.
Ed. Ilan Stavans. Et Al. New York: WW Norton and Company, 2011. 398-405. Print.






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