The Ambiguity of the American Dream in Laila Halaby’s Once in a Promised Land

  • 魏 云萱

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The thesis aims to provide an alternative understanding of the American Dream and its relation to terrorism through examining Laila Halaby’s depiction of an Arab American couple’s life and struggle in her post-9/11 novel Once in a Promised Land The thesis argues that in representing the American Dream’s ambiguity Halaby does not merely describe the broken Dream after 9/11 but returns to the pre-9/11 era to trace its origin and problems As an ideal the American Dream has sustained the establishment of the States and formed the American character It has inspired American individualism liberal capitalism and democracy the ideas of which are nowadays enhanced by mainstream media and are still believed by many people as universal However in the novel Halaby challenges these “universal” ideas by depicting the illness of American society such as egocentricity class inequality and a sense of alienation The thesis maintains that Halaby represents the American Dream as an inherently problematic belief rather than a problem caused externally by 9/11 While the first two parts of the thesis investigate the protagonists’ inner struggles their emptiness in luxurious American life and nostalgia for home country when they pursue the American Dream the third part explores the connection between the Dream and terrorism
Date of Award2015 Jul 14
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPei-Chen Liao (Supervisor)

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