Kennedy Vs. Ripley


When thinking about the Kennedy family, Joseph P. Kennedy stands out. He lived an interesting life pursing his version of the American Dream, which included a strong interest in politics. A significant difference between Robert Ripley and Joseph Kennedy would be their family backgrounds. While Kenney’s parents were not originally well-off, they were able to build a successful legacy for themselves, which meant Joseph had many opportunities and contacts available to him. Though he had the help of his family background, he was also a very savvy businessman, which led to much of his success over the years.

Joseph Kennedy, 1940

Joseph Kennedy, 1940

Photo from Wikipedia

When thinking about Joseph in the context of the American dream, he looks like a success. If the American dream is about owning a home, having children and being financially successful, then Joseph did indeed achieve the dream. On the other hand, was he happy? Another aspect to the Kennedy family was one of tragedy. Airplane crashes, war, and assassinations took the lives of so many members of this prominent family. Joseph also never achieved his ultimate goal of becoming a President of the United States. Was the world that the Kennedy’s lived in really a blessing? Or did it turn out to be a curse?

I think the lives of the Kennedy family goes way beyond the American dream and into another realm. The American dream isn’t necessarily about tons of power and wealth, but more about the possibility of not struggling. Those that came to America were pursuing a better life. Sure, wealth is always desired, but a majority of the immigrants that came originally were fleeing poverty, famine and very bad living conditions in Europe. Coming to America meant they had a chance to put food on the table every night, to find work and keep it, and to potentially own their own land someday. This dream is far from where the Kennedy family stood. Money can do funny things to people, and it also puts them in a different world, one which can sometimes be even more dangerous.

Minutes before JFK's assassination.

Minutes before JFK’s assassination.

Photo from Wikipedia


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Robert Ripley was born in 1890 in California. He is the perfect example of the American Dream simply because he was born into a poor family. As his success grew, he could look back to the beginning and truly say that he was a self-made man. He was a talented cartoonist, and found a way to take that talent and make a living for himself. This was the dream. America was full of opportunities like this, the opportunity to put yourself out there, work hard, and make a successful living.

Ripley’s career began with a newspaper in San Francisco. He sent his portfolio out, and received a reply from the sports editor at the San Francisco Bulletin. “Just came back in time to receive your cartoons, which are very good,” Baggerly wrote. “They are so good I have decided to give you a trial, providing we can agree upon a salary.” (Thompson, 27)

Robert Ripley's first cartoon

Robert Ripley’s first cartoon

Photo from

While his career wasn’t always smooth, he went on to do amazing things with his life. He pursued things that interested him, and found a way to support himself while taking adventures all over the world. As the Ripley website states, “In an era when not many people traveled outside their own hometown, let alone out of the country, he became a compulsive traveler and journeyed whenever he could!”

When I think about Ripley, I do see him as a great example of the American Dream. I also think he is an exception to the rule. The American Dream should mean that anyone can make a living in America, have the opportunity to support themselves and their families by finding a reasonable job that will pay them a living wage. Robert Ripley was unique in the sense that he was extremely talented in a specific field, at a time when there was a high demand in that field.


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