Arthur Miller described it best in Death of a Salesman.
And at the end of the day, we all want a bite of the American Dream. But nowadays with the economy the way it is and all these new changes in politics, it’s hard to define this dream and whether we still have a shot at achieving it. Each individual is going to have a unique goal or dream that they will want to reach some day. Some may want to simply be able to pay the bills on time every month. Some may want that new car or dream house. Some just want their kids to do well in school. Whatever the case may be, as a writer, you know one popular dream is to be a published author one day.
I think no book is a better example of this American Dream than The Help, which is wonderfully brough to life on the movie screen as well. After discussing this book with the ladies of Columbia Book Club, it was inevitable that we would see the film in theaters, starring Emma Stone as Skeeter.
The American Dream, especially for us young folk, is portrayed through Skeeter’s struggle to find something in the writing field. Nowadays in America, a college education isn’t as safe as it has always been. It seems that no matter what you major in, upon graduation, you’ll have to be prepared for some tough love and slim pickings. Sometimes, like in the case of Skeeter, it’s time to move back in with the ‘rents and regroup.
When Skeeter’s first attempt at moving to New York fails, she applies for writing positions that can help her gain more experience, thus ends up as the new Miss Myrna, writing a domestic maintenance column for a local journal. You have to start somewhere, right? She doesn’t quit. She keeps dreaming. She’s going to be a journalist or a novelist or something, as she tells one skeptical Stuart Whitworth. In the meantime, the key is to just write.
Write she does as Skeeter, at the suggestion of the editor at Harper & Row, exposes a controversial topic that shows something that bothers her that no one else has thought to write about before. All the while she is still at her mother’s place, partly because her mother needs looking-after, partly because, well, even though the editor suggested she get her own apartment as a young, working 23-year-old professional, Skeeter can’t afford it with her Miss Myrna columns. She is able to hang in there though, getting every interview from a maid that she needs, including her own from Constantine.
Only then is Skeeter able to impress Harper & Row and be offered a position in New York. And isn’t that what every writer secretly wants? Not just a bite of the American Dream, but a bite out of the Big Apple.