English 11 Forum

Pre-reading prompts for The Devil and Tom Walker

Please respond to the following two claims with your thoughts and specific examples.

You will, outside of class, need to respond to two of your classmates (by tomorrow's class).

Please respond to both claims in the same response. Minimum of two paragraphs per claim.

I decide and control how successful I am.

Material wealth is most people’s number one goal and rightly so.

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    • I agree with you James. Some people are just set up for success more than others. No matter what though everyone can become successful in life. All you have to do is work hard and strive for what you want.

      I also agree with you on that everyone wants material wealth in some way. No matter how people deny it everyone likes materials. I think you have a good response here. It is a little short. It has a good explanation though and good examples. What do you consider more important success or materials?
  • I fully believe that "I decide and control how successful I am." For one I believe everyone controls their own destiny. Everyone has the same opportunity to go to college. Unless in some bizarre case you really can't go to college or do what you wanna do. I know for me though I control what I wanna do with my life. I plan to go to college, and get a nice job. I plan on making a good amount of money and eventually finding a wife.

    Everyone views success differently. I know that I control how successful I am based off what I consider successful. I know that in my opinion I consider success a good job, a good amount of money, and a nice family. I can achieve all those things in time. I know how I am going to do that. I'm well motivated to achieve what I want. It's all laid out in front of me I just have to seize the opportunity. I plan on going to college and getting the job I want. From then on everything will fall into place.

    I am on the border on whether I think "material wealth is most people's number one goal." I do believe everyone values materials as very important to them but I don't think it's everyone number one. Some people it might be number one and some people it might not be important to at all. What I do know is most people are right in the middle. It's important but not number one. Yet no one will admit how important their materials are to them. It's this way because in today's society everyone has been taught that considering materials important is bad. Your supposed to consider friends and family number one. They say materials don't give you anything while friends and family can.

    A good example of showing how much people value objects is look at any teenager. Try to take their phone away from them. They will freak out. Why because they value their phone very much. Also you get around someones car and your messing around the owner is gonna freak out. Why? Because that's their car and they worked hard to buy it. It's the same with every other object. If someone buys something. They're gonna wanna take care of it and value it. They worked hard to be able to afford it. So they obviously value it. Also if people didn't value objects why don't we all drive the same car, or have the same phone, or the same house. Because some people worked harder and get to have more. Causing them to care for those things more. This also shows that people consider materials important.
  • I decide and control how successful I am. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. The most successful people in this world are those who work their butts off for it. Some people may think that they are successful by getting a business handed down to them, but to me that isn't being very successful. That's taking the easy way out.

    If I wanted to be a drop-out drug dealer, then by my own control, I could do that. If I wanted to be a 4.0 student who gets accepted into Harvard, I could do that. Your success is determined by the amount of handwork and effort that you put in. You can't blame anyone else for you turning out the way that you do. I mean, maybe you can blame your parents for your looks, but in the means of success? No. When thinking of success, I think me, myself, and I because those are the only people that can get in my way.

    Material wealth is most people's number one goal and rightly so. I completely disagree with this statement because it was ranked very low on my list. Money, cars, and houses shouldn't matter to anyone unless they are money hungry. In my honest opinion, people who ranked material wealth higher up are probably those kids who want to be better than everyone else or the 'one-uppers.'

    Material wealth shouldn't matter to any individual, but happiness should be number one. Having nice things should definitely not rank higher than family, friends, your relationship with God, or your own happiness. If you rank happiness lower than your materialistic thing, then you are probably going to end up living a miserable life. For example, watching those horrid reality TV shows, you can tell who thinks material wealth is much more important. Game shows give out free cars, which makes me think that they want people to have something to show for material wealth. Material wealth isn't such a great thing when you have an awful personality.
  • I believe that this is definitely true because you are the determinate factor in how your life is ran and experienced. You are the one who needs to reach at opportunities and experiences in order to try to be successful. People whom have no motivation and no determination do good probably will not be as successful. Of course, there are some factors that you cannot control, events might take place to where you are helpless or unable to control situations. Otherwise, for the most part, you control how you handle life, it's your decision whether or not you take hold and steer.

    This is why I think schooling backs this statement up. Some students choose to study hard and do their best, which usually lands them a good grades and a better education as well as maybe even a great future job. Others, ones whom have no motivation to do good in school, suffer because of poorly made decisions to not do their work. These people you usually see working McDonalds. No offense to McDonalds workers. My point is that the decisions you make and the effort you put into your life will definitely be a large factor in how successful you are in life.

    Material wealth is important. Modest people try to say that money doesn't buy happiness. Well, money sure doesn't not make me happy. For many people whom have grown up around wealth, they don't understand how it feels to live without a lot of it, and they make claims that money isn't the most important thing. For others, whom have struggled financially their whole lives, they state otherwise. It's hard not to value wealth in a society that bases happiness and experiences upon prices and values. Things like clothing, bikes, trips, homes, vehicles, and even healthcare come all at an expense. Those whom have the money to buy the 'prices of happiness' are usually considerably happier.

    Its human nature to be greedy. It's a natural human survival defense. Back when we needed food to survive, greed is usually what kept humans alive and fed. Being greedy meant more food for yourself to survive. So I guess I understand why material wealth is so valued today. We hunger for more. Greed isn't necessarily a bad thing though. Greed might push you to do things. Like parents whom want their children to have it better than when they did show greed. Their greed is their determination for their kids to do better.
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    • I like the specific 70%. Nice examples and good job explaining the different factors that effect your success. I can tell you consider material wealth strictly money. Again another good job explaining yourself and telling why you believe things. Solid response. Very easy to understand. How big of an impact do you believe your parents have on deciding how successful you become.
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    • Even though I was for the thought of material wealth being people's number one goal, I do think that you bring upon pretty good points. I agree with Americans valuing pretty stupid things, we do indeed. Do you think there is a correlation between wanting material wealth and being poor?
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    • You did a great job expressing your opinion. I agree when you say the people who actually work for their success are happier with the outcome. People who work for their success know what kind of blood, sweat, and tears went into that hard work. The people who get everything handed to them won't know what to do when they get in a bind.
      You are one hundred and ten percent right when you state you can't control the bad things that happen, but you can control your attitude towards them. If you go into a bad situation thinking negative thoughts, then more than likely it is going to be a bad situation. If you go into a bad situation thinking positive thoughts, then it may actually turn out a little better than expected. Do you think those people that get everything handed to them actually appreciate it or do they just expect it now? Why or why not?
      I like how you gave your opinion about materialistic things because it fits my opinion too. I agree with your statement about memories having more importance than materialistic things. Like you, as I have gotten older, I notice more and more that I don't care that other people have a nicer car, better clothes, or a nicer home than I do. I've noticed many people lately aren't too close to their families and it honestly kind of scares me. My family is my world and if I don't see my grandparents at least once every two days, I get worried.
      I feel like material wealth is making its way up to the top to replace happiness and family. Many people think it is better to have more materialistic things to show rather than having a bond with your family that is unbreakable. Do you think material wealth will overcome happiness and family on lists like this in our lifetime? Why or why not?
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    • I like how you've given an example on how you control your success. It's true, many of us could ruin and make our lives if we tried. True, ruining your life is much easier than trying to be successful,which when you think about it, it should be harder for us to fail and be easier to be successful, but because of our society, we pretty much compete with each other instead of helping create the same opportunities and quality of life. Why do you think that our society makes it so easy to fail?
  • "I decide and control how successful I am" is essentially the American Dream. The idea that if you work hard, you will be successful. We saw it in de Crevecoeur's Letters to an American Farmer--this idea that, unlike in Europe, people in America can improve their lot in life if they are willing to work hard. But how true is this statement?

    Research shows that rates of economic mobility in America are declining. So if we are determining success by income, we either have lazier people in our country, or we have barriers to achieving that economic success. The flipside of saying you control your success is that those who are not successful are deemed lazy. And while some certainly are, can we truly say this of all who are not successful? What else might be the cause? Some would say unequal education based on where you go to school, some might point to taxation and economic policies that allow the wealthy to hold onto their money and prevent the poor from accumulating more, and others might include the vestiges of racism.

    Ultimately, I believe you have SOME control over how successful you are, but I agree that structural inequalities make it much harder for some to achieve that same level of success.

    As for material wealth being most people's number one goal, I think this is becoming more and more true. I just read an interesting article on the bus ride back from State Speech that talked about how rich, unhappy people feel they need a lot more money to reach a state of happiness, even though ALL the research shows that, beyond a certain level (lower than you think), increased wealth has no correlation to increased rates of happiness.

    That same research shows convincingly that spending our money on other people and on experiences makes us much happier than spending money on new/more things. Yet so many of us (myself included sometimes) still have that insidious drive to "buy" ourselves a happier us.
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    • You did a great job with your examples of who is successful in life. I agree with you when you state people control their own destiny. People do determine their own destiny by deciding how much effort or hard work they want to put into it. If people actually worked their butt's off like some do, more goals and dreams would be reached on a daily basis.
      I agree very much so with you on the fact that people's parents earned those positions, but those kids didn't earn that position. Why should they be flaunting what mommy and daddy bought them and telling everyone how rich THEY are? It's not their money, so they should't be flaunting it in everyone else's face. Do you think people can affect other people's success, why or why not?
      I think it is great that you were honest with your audience. I agree that society has set super high expectations of how life should really be. Your examples of professional athletes were excellent because that is honestly what every kid looks up to. They think that if they play sports, they are going to get to that level.
      Honestly, I would love to have all those things too. I always dreamed of getting a college diploma so I could actually make decent money for my family to live on. Like Monica said, I probably wouldn't be too devastated if I didn't reach the goal of being 'rich.' Do you think money can honestly buy happiness? Why or why not?
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