She is saying that potential is all that limits the seekers o the American Dream. Since the country puts no restrictions on who can succeed, it is only the person themselves who can halt the Dream. She goes on to point out one of the negative aspects of the dream though when she states "The American Dream is…one of the commodity, and the implied premise is that one's spiritual worth and well-being are directly proportional to the value of the commodities one owns" (Tyson 5). In saying that the Dream is one of commodity, she means that people are more concerned with what they can earn than what they can be. The American Dream is more about grasping what one can rather than improving themselves in any other way. This leads to a discussion of how the vision of the American Dream has changed in the past few years.
Throughout American history there have been those who have not been able to realize the Dream. "Many people believe that the structure of American society belies the idealistic goal of the American Dream, pointing to examples of inequality rooted in class, race, and ethnic origin which suggest that the American Dream is not attainable for all" (wiseGeek). People were brought to American shores as slaves in many cases, or little better than slaves in others. When someone is owned, they cannot reach their full potential in this sense because they are not able to control what they do. To realize the American Dream, a person has to be free to pursue it. Unfortunately, many have not had this freedom.
In today's culture, people often feel the same way. The American Dream is lost to them because they do not have the opportunity that once existed. They say that
"in America today, that dream is being eroded. For the first time in our nation's history, many young Americans realize that they will not be able to match or exceed the economic levels achieved by their parents. According to a report released by the Pew Charitable Trust, "Men in their 30s today earn less than men in their fathers' generation, and family income growth has slowed" (McManus)
Although women are earning more than their mothers at the same age, even this is not the immense positive that it would seem. The reason is that the increase in women's salaries have not risen to the extent that they had in previous generations. Me do not make as much as their fathers, and women are only better by a few percentage points.
The fact is that the definition of the American Dream changes due to history, what people perceive the original definition to be, and with the times. Demographics such as socioeconomic status also play a large role in how one views the American Dream and whether it is attainable. In the end, people still believe that working hard still pays rewards; they just may not be as great as they have been in the past.
Abowitz, Deborah A. "Social Mobility and the American Dream: What do College Students Believe?" College Student Journal 39.4 (2005): 716-728. Print.
McManus, John F. "Understanding America Today: Immigrants have Long Come to America to Live the "American Dream." The New American 23.21-15 Oct. 2007. 4-6. Print.
Tyson, Lois. Psychological Politics of the American Dream: The Commodification of Subjectivity in Twentieth-Century American Literature. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1994. Print.
wiseGeek. "What is the…