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The story of Stephen Cruz by Studs Terkel explains how the American dream is experienced differently by different people. There has been a continuous misconception of money being the source of happiness. People go to institutions of learning with money and social status as their main incentives. Terkel tries to analyze the true meaning of success and to what extent can one achieve happiness and self fulfillment. Happiness thus according to Terkel is achieved as a result of self fulfillment.
The story is told of a young Mexican boy who had always been taught by his father never to take anything that he did not earn. Terkel describes how Stephen's father works through the depression and never advances in welfare. Stephen graduates in engineering and later goes back for his masters in business. After completing his studies, Stephen immediately gets a job and is led to think that this is so because of his qualifications. Stephen realizes that he is not progressing in the corporate world realizing he has been in the same small glass office.
With time, Stephen began earning more money and came to the realization that the American dream did not really apply to everyone. The minority group was being absorbed into the labor market and most businessmen knew that they could make more money through exploitation. They thus hired the minorities under unjust and unfair conditions. Stephen's final conclusion regarding the American dream is that the dream is determined by a few who do everything in their power to maintain control of the American dream (Terkel, Pg.359).
In this story by Merkel, the American dream is put into question by Stephen who has struggled endlessly to climb the corporate ladder in the business world. Merkel points out that the minorities are still less influential in making crucial changes that would prevent the cycle of exploitation from continuing. The writer puts to task the business world to consider freedom of association and speech to their subordinate staff. Allowing them to express themselves will perhaps make the American dream be realized for all Americans.