There is no certain, definitive answer to the question that we ask ourselves day to day. What truly defines an American? Everyone has a different story and their own beliefs. The beauty of living in this country is simply the freedom of having your own voice and opinion. Although every so- called American may have different ideals and were simply granted their title by, perhaps, signing some documents or reciting a pledge of allegiance, they have more in common than what comes to mind. Every American, no matter that status or standards, has gotten to where they want through perseverance and hard work. Striving to gain what you deserve, in all honesty, is the one and only answer you could give to define an American.

Many people have grown to believe that it is the outside factors that determine our success in life, but little do we realize that it all depends on personal achievements and persistence. In the Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part- Time Indian, Junior makes the bold decision of moving to Reardon where he proves just this. Junior has a goal in mind of doing something no Indian had ever done before and works to do it, no matter the costs. As he puts in the time and effort, Junior soon gets better than he ever was at basketball and wins Reardon’s most highly anticipated game. This just goes to prove that hard work truly is what defines you and your future.

Similar to Junior and the other Indians at the Rez, many other groups have dreams they wanted to achieve and had to work to get there. A huge part of American history and the developement of America has to do with African Americans. They are a huge example of how hard work pays off. The American Civil Rights Movement was a huge part of this. For years African Americans had suffered through racial oppression and had to fight to get what they deserved. Soon their work began to pay off, American slaves were emancipated and gained basic rights with the come of the Civil War, along with the passing of the 14th and 15th amendments of the Constitution (Carson). However they knew this wasn’t the end. Even decades later African Americans seemed to be struggling with segregation and oppression. But, they still managed to put up a fight. A very prominent example of this was the Montgomery Bus Boycott where Rosa Parks peacefully protested while refusing to give up her supposed “white seat” on the bus. This sparked so mass protests throughout Alabama (Carson). Just as recently as a few years ago, we are still seeing the great outcomes of all the hard work African Americans put in to get what they ultimately deserved. With our former first African American President, Barack Obama, the road of hardships and fighting seems to come to a minimum; however, in order to maintain prosperity in America means to be able to put in some elbow grease whenever needed.

The LGBTQ+ community also proves to be another perfect case proving how to be an American means to fight and to work hard for what you need. Growing from a small community outcasted by most people, this group has learned to put in lots of effort to gain rights for who they are. As of only 30 years ago, “57 percent of Americans believed consensual gay sex should be illegal” (Kirchick). Now, gay people have gained many more rights such as marriage and the allowance to serve in the military. Open- mindedness about this topic has broadened steadily and with just enough effort could change the whole nations perspective on LGBTQ+ rights and members. It is such a great thing what just a little work can produce do for a minority community.

These examples have blatantly proven just how just a little time and patience can lead to great prosperity. It is not about how much money you have, your social status, or what you can make others do for you. It is about what you can do for yourself and the amount of work your willing to put in. The groups mentioned above also show just how diverse Americans really are. Despite our diversity, all of us come together for one reason. In order to get what we want, as an American, it is our duty to be able to put in some work. All in all, even if there won’t ever be a perfect definition of an American, it is definitive that in order to be an American you have to be down to work hard against any and all obstacles life may have to throw at you.


Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Cornelsen, 2009.

Carson, Clayborne. “American Civil Rights Movement.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2019,

Kirchick, James. “The Struggle for Gay Rights Is Over.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 2 July 2019,

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December 6, 2019 1:22 pm

Hi Laya, I enjoyed reading your post about the “American dream” and how hard work and determination leads to success. I think on the surface it is all about how hard you work and is fair, not based on your economic status, but I also believe that this “dream” is a lot more complicated. For instance, if a child grows up in a not so fortunate household, I think they will have to work a lot harder than a child who grows up in a more privileged home. The more fortunate child will have many more opportunities. We all don’t start form a level playing field.

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