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You Can't Take It with You Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 35 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of You Can't Take It with You.
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American Dream

The two families in You Can't Take It with You each represent different definitions (perceptions) of the American Dream. Mr. Kirby has attained financial success and a position of social and economic power. The play, however, asks its viewers to evaluate whether Americans should aspire to be like Mr. Kirby. His achievement is contrasted with Grandpa Vanderhofs' version of the American Dream, earning just enough money so that one can survive and do exactly what one wishes. Mr. Kirby may initially think Grandpa's ideas are "un-American, " but the Vanderhofs' infectious happiness and love for one another encourages the audience to revise their definition of the American Dream to include attainment of both material success and personal fulfillment.

Success and Failure

Throughout the play, the Vanderhof-Sycamore way of life calls into question conventional definitions of success and failure. Although Essie and Penny might be called "failures" because they...

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This section contains 691 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the You Can't Take It with You Study Guide
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Drama for Students
You Can't Take It with You from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.