Monday, April 23, 2012

What is your green light?

From The Great Gatsby:
[H]e stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward -- and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock (20-21; emphasis added).
The New York Times recently featured an article entitled, "Gatsby’s Green Light Beckons a New Set of Strivers". As you think about what it is that you desire most, consider the responses of these urban and immigrant students in a Boston high school.

7 comments:

BMurdoch said...
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BMurdoch said...
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BMurdoch said...

After reading the article, I immediately identified with Jinzhao Wang, a 14 year old immigrant from China now attending Boston Latin High School. Wang's "green light" is an admission ticket to Harvard, and being the college-driven student that I am, I instantly thought my "green light" was the same as Wang's: to get into the college of my dreams. But after taking another second to think about it, I've realized my green light is much broader than just an admission letter. I want that admission letter because I want people to believe that I'm good enough- whatever "enough" may be. I feel kind of awkward writing this out, but if we're being honest here, I'm just going to go for it. The thing I really want the most is for other people to think I'm smart, and to think I actually accomplished something in life. I want my parents to be proud to brag about me, and to tell all their friends where I go to college or the big job I just landed. I want people to think I made something of myself.

Donna said...

I find it interesting that this green light represents the idea of success and everyoneshould try to achieve it. Fitzgerald is trying to emphasize to the reader that America is the land of opportunity and you are encouraged to succeed. Green means go! Right?
As great as this is, it can be very difficult for immigrants in America to succeed, especially how our visa system works. My friend has lived here for three years now (she moved here from the Netherlands) and she still cannot legally have a job or recieve a paycheck. She always talks about how she wants one, but the processing times for new visas, social security numbers, and many other technical, legal issues consume months and months of time, so many don't even bother going through the process. Likel Shauna from Jamaica says, the way America works hinders the potential success for many, creating specific paths for success. Clearly our country would not function without this legal system and the use of visas, but does the process interfere with the United States--the "land of opportunity"?

Kathleen F. said...

My green light, as cheesy as this is, is to be content and satisfied. Growing up in a wealthy home and simultaneously learning about the poverty that consumes the majority of the world has left me somewhat disillusioned about my future prospects. I wonder if I'll be one of the lucky few that is "successful": I wonder if I'll get the job, the insurance, the car, the husband, and plop right back down on the North Shore to raise my own kids. The probability of this seems low to me so I can only hope that when I do reach that sought after age of independence, I can be satisfied with a smaller house than I grew up in. I want to be content in a job, however little or much it pays. I want to wake up excited to fill my car up with gas, wash the dishes, and sweep the kitchen floor, because, to me, that's the best life anyone can aspire to.

David K. said...

I agree with Harkeem Steed, who said that "the American dream has a lot to do with money." This isn't to say that the other students didn't have valid points, but I do think that for most people, it's necessary to have at least a minimal standard of living to be qualified for the American dream. And the way people typically make money is by doing things that contribute to the fulfillment of the American dream, like making a difference in the world, feeling accomplished, and living comfortably. In order for people to be able to do any of these things though, there has to be at least some monetary backbone. When I grow up, I do aspire to be wealthy, and not just because I want a luxurious lifestyle - it's also because if I want to make a difference in the world, that's the easiest way to do it. In fact, a man like Steve Jobs did more for the world than anyone could even imagine, and he did it by making himself a multi billionaire at the same time.

Betsy P said...

I do not know what my green light is. It’s difficult to define without knowing your destination: the American dream. Because what is the American dream? A question that takes me back to August, when we discussed how the “old version” of the American dream--if you worked hard and had a little bit of luck, anyone can make it in America--was a myth. After reading Wang’s statement, “the journey toward the dream is the most important thing” I realized struggling to define my green light and American Dream is not as important as the moments that shape “the journey towards the dream.” Because whether my green light turns a “minute” away or “far away” (Gatsby 21), my American dream will be determined by how I decide to live in the present.