Glengarry Glen Ross portrays a harsh view of American business that not only contradicts, but also befouls the values of the "American Dream." The idealistic importance of fairness, equality, and the idea that hard work brings success included in this "dream" of American society is clearly not reality in this play. The values of work ethic, and equal opportunity are betrayed, and there is a notable presence of racism, sexism, and an savage system of "dog-eat-dog" competition.
A main focus of the play is the never-ending hunt for leads. "Leads" are cards containing information on prospective customers with interest in buying land. Many of these leads are said to be worthless, because of people sending them in without genuine interest in purchasing land. Others, namely the Glengarry Highlands leads, are highly sought-after "premium" leads, and are primarily given to top salesmen, or those who are most likely to close the deal. There is a perception of privilege and a cycle of success in acquiring leads in that only those who close the most deals get the leads that are likely to be closed. As If the high commissions for closing deals is not enough motivation for the fierce competition for the leads, there is an earnings contest in which the winner gets a new Cadillac, and the loser gets fired.
The presence of racism is clear throughout the play. Early in the play, Shelly Levine, a struggling veteran salesman on a bad streak complains of getting leads from "Polacks" (p. 21). Dave Moss, another salesman later refers to Polish clients as "deadbeat Polacks" (p 29). He then goes on to degrade Indian clients. Richard Roma, a recently successful salesman also refers to Indians as "deadbeat wogs," and says, "[if] Fuckin' Shiva handed him a million dollars and told him 'sign the deal,' he wouldn't sign." (p. 63). America is proud of its reputation as a "melting pot" for...