Quick Write

What is the American Dream? What does it mean to you?

The American Dream

What Is the American Dream? The History That Made It Possible

The American Dream is the ideal that the government should protect each person’s opportunity to pursue their own idea of happiness.

The Declaration of Independence protects this American Dream. It uses the familiar quote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Is it a Myth?

Unknown Americans Essay

The next essay asks you to write about the novel we read. You should begin by narrowing down what it is you are going to write about and begin getting your notes together.

Sample topics you can write about:

  • The American Dream
  • Alma’s guilt
  • Maribel’s brain injury and her getting better
  • Parenting or overprotecting kids
  • Immigration and prejudice

Each of these topics requires that you find scenes, lines of dialogue, and examples from the book to use for the evidence. You will formulate an argumentative thesis about the novel and whatever topic you choose to write about. Each of the topics also requires academic research to help with the analysis. You can research guilt in psychology, brain injuries, parenting, the american dream, and immigration or prejudice. Each topic needs research to help support your analysis.

Thesis Statements

Purdue OWL has a great write up for thesis statements.

Creating a Thesis Statement

Write a Thesis

  1. Focused
  2. Debatable
  3. Makes a claim
  4. Supported by evidence

Use this template to help you write your thesis statement.

In this essay, I will argue . . .

 

The Book of Unknown Americans

Write a short summary of a chapters so that it will be easier to find key scenes. This will help everyone when we begin looking for scenes to analyze.

Chapters

  1. Alma (3)
  2. Mayor (12)
  3. Rafael Toro (19)
  4. Alma (24)
  5. Mayor (37)
  6. Benny Quinto (44)
  7. Alma (48)
  8. Mayor (67)
  9. Gustavo Milhojas (87)
  10. Alma (91)
  11. Mayor (108)
  12. Quisqueya Solis (116)
  13. Alma (119)
  14. Mayor (127)
  15. Adolfo “Fito” Angelino (144)
  16. Alma (147)
  17. Mayor (156)
  18. Nelia Zafon (175)
  19. Alma (180)
  20. Mayor (203)
  21. Jose Mercado (214)
  22. Alma (218)
  23. Mayor (223)
  24. Micho Alvarez (237)
  25. Alma (239)
  26. Mayor (248)
  27. Alma (265)
  28. Arturo Rivera (285)

Themes and Topics

  • Immigration
  • Refugees
  • Unstable Governments
  • Self Segregation
  • American Dream
  • Patriarchy
  • Bullying
  • Sexual Assault
  • Low Paying Jobs
  • Taking advantage of immigrants
  • Language Barriers

intermission

Masterpiece Comics

Re-imagine this book as a comic book. What comic book would it be? What superheroes would Mayor and Maribel be? Who would be the villain? What comic villain would they be? What comic book themes would we need to address? What are their super powers?

In groups of two or three, take a few minutes and come up with a list of comic superheroes and villains that would work for the novel.

  • Mayor Toro
  • Maribel Rivera
  • Alma Rivera
  • Arturo Rivera
  • Celia Toro
  • Rafael Toro
  • Garrett

In-Text Citations

Purdue OWL does a great job explaining how to cite sources in MLA.

In-Text Citation Basics

You will be citing from the book in your essay. It is important that we learn how to do it correctly.

After Quisqueya tells the Riveras about Mayor and Maribel, she says, “I’m Sorry” (Henriquez 202). Even though she says she is sorry, she really is not. She came to tell them because it was gossip not because she felt the need to do the right thing. She told them because it gives her a dark satisfaction to know something and to be the one to break the bad news.

If you were citing something a book or article with one author, you just cite the last name of the author and the page number. If you do not have a page number, say an online article or web page, you just cite the last name of the author and no page number.

“I’m Sorry” (Henriquez 202).

Once you have established what or who you are citing, you only need to cite the page number.

After Quisqueya tells the Riveras about Mayor and Maribel, she says, “I’m Sorry” (202). Even though she says she is sorry, she really is not. She came to tell them because it was gossip not because she felt the need to do the right thing. She told them because it gives her a dark satisfaction to know something and to be the one to break the bad news.

To cite something with two authors, you cite both the last names.

The authors claim that surface reading looks at what is “evident, perceptible, apprehensible in texts” (Best and Marcus 9).

Best and Marcus argue that one should read a text for what it says on its surface, rather than looking for some hidden meaning (9).

If you have a text you are citing with three or more authors, you only cite the first author’s last name with et al. and the page number.

According to Franck et al., “Current agricultural policies in the U.S. are contributing to the poor health of Americans” (327). The authors claim that one cause of obesity in the United States is government-funded farm subsidies (Franck et al. 327).

The in-text citations reference the first thing written for the source in the works cited page.

If you do not know the author, either isn’t listed or can’t find it, you cite a shortened version of the title in quotation marks.

If I was citing the article “Friends or Strangers: The Impact of Immigrants on the US Economy” and it did not have an author listed, you cite a shortened version of the title.

According to the article “Friends or Strangers: The Impact of Immigrants on the US Economy,”Legislation informed by racist and sexist discourse has in the past and present severely challenged the survival and well-being of immigrant families” (32).

Immigrants struggle in the novel because “Legislation informed by racist and sexist discourse has in the past and present severely challenged the survival and well-being of immigrant families” (“Friends and Strangers” 32).

Borjas, George J. “Friends or Strangers: The Impact of Immigrants on the US Economy.” (1990).

Homework

  • Finish the novel.
  • Rough Draft for next class.