Apart from the natives, Americans are like Brazilians, a mixed race coming all over the planet. Today black, white, yellow or red are all brothers under the same flag, but the total acceptance of immigrants has not yet reached all its potential. In a way it is difficult to comprehend it, because every American, except the Indians, have foreign roots. Immigrants have to push themselves double as hard as native Americans because of the language they might not speak, the customs they might not know, and the prejudice they might not be used to.
America has been promising to fulfil everyone’s dream since the Independence from Britain has been declared, so it is just understandable why so many immigrants want to try to pursuit their happiness in the so called ‘Promised Land’ (financial wise, because spiritual wise people can try to achieve greatness anywhere else in the world).
Upward social movement is what America promises and that’s what everyone is after. Despite the wars the immigrants came. Despite the Great Depression they insisted in keep coming too. Even today, despite the severe financial crisis immigrants still haven’t given up their dream, seeing America as the place where anything is possible.
In German people say: “von nichts kommt nichts”. That means: “from nothing, nothing will come”. People must work hard and always learn new things because if they don’t, success will never come. It might not even come for those who follow the recipe the way it should be, but for the lazy ones, the confortable ones, the spoiled ones, they can never achieve anything in life. So, one day when they have grown old they will blame the country for their failures because few are those in the position of blaming themselves, of knowing that there is just so much that the country can do for you.
O’Neill indirectly blames the country in Long Day’s Journey into Night for having promised so much, especially happiness, but apart from his melancholic family memories, hasn’t he lived the American dream by becoming the most important American playwright the country has ever seen? It is hard to believe that a man can only have been so sad all the time. Could the only exception be when he imagined how his youth could have been so much happier if it wasn’t for his whole family’s addiction, misunderstandings, and the ghosts from the past in Ah! Wilderness?
In Long Day’s Tyrone has climbed the ladder coming from an extremely poor family of Irish immigrants, who for their own sake must also have exercised racism against the black citizens for having to fight over jobs with them, like most Irish immigrants did. But the fact of the matter is that just like Tyrone back in his day, there are hundreds of thousands of Tyrones today, immigrating to countries that promise miracles but cannot perform them, leaving people desperate looking for ways of surviving with dignity, not having to die or find someone to blame for their misery. Climbing the social and financial ladder is the utmost American Dream, not forgetting that the Declaration of Independence has also promised happiness, not only financial gain. Some poor people are happy, perhaps not for long, but they can be happy, too. Money is not everything, as Tyrone realizes at some point in the course of that long summer day and climbing the ladder could also mean towards paradise…
Luciana B. Veit