The Great Gatsby

“The Great Gatsby”

The Defunct American Dream



The roaring twenties were a time of prosperity, parties, gangsters, jazz,
speakeasies, and scientific inventions. Since the conception of F. Scott
Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby” have we really changed as a nation? Why yes we
say, we have sent a man to the moon, improved air travel and education, we
nearly perfected nuclear energy, and computers now do the work of a thousand
men. Today, many things are different aesthetically, but our behaviors as a
nation still remain the same. If we turned the clock back to the early 1920’s,
and reviewed the conduct of our late president Warren G. Harding, we would see
that Harding was very well known for his extramarital affairs, just as Bill
Clinton is very well known for his in the 1990’s. We no longer have gangsters
controlling illegal sales of whiskey; we have ganstas controlling illegal sales
of crack cocaine. Success in the twenties was measured by wealth and how you
acquired it. Success in the nineties measured in nearly the same way, as we all
know it’s whom you know and what part of town you’re from.

In “The Great Gatsby”, F. Scott Fitzgerald tells a magnificent story, and
the reader soon realizes that the American Dream is defunct, just as it was back
in the infamous roaring twenties. The American Dream believes that each person
has the ability to take himself from rags to riches if he works hard enough.
There are rules to the American Dream, bootlegging was not the politically
correct way of becoming wealthy. When the reader meets Jay Gatsby, he lives in
an extravagant mansion just outside New York with everything anyone could ever
want. Jay has servants, nice cars, private beaches, a plane, beautiful gardens,
and money that appears to grow on trees. He throws enormous parties to show off
his wealth, with only one purpose. Gatsby wanted to attract the attention of his
long lost love Daisy, who lives just across the sound. Gatsby feels that his
newly made money will win her back, as he didn’t have enough money to keep her
years ago.

Fitzgerald uses colors to reveal essential ideas to the reader. For example,
when we meet Daisy for the first time, she is wearing a white dress; (14) white
is usually associated with something pure, like that of a wedding dress. We also
meet Jordan Baker at the same time. Jordan’s eyes are described as grey and
sun-strained (15) grey can sometimes be associated death. Spiritually Ms. Baker
is dead; nothing matters to her except money. This remains true to nearly every
character in the story. Upon our introduction to Jordan Baker we also find out
what kind of a person she is. “I’m stiff,” she complained. I’ve been
lying on that sofa for as long as I can remember.” Fitzgerald used this quote
to inform the reader what to anticipate from her character in the future. This
holds true, as she is a very untruthful person, Jordan lies about leaving some
ones convertible out in the rain, and is hypocritical when it comes to her
driving careless. Just after her near wreck, she comments to Nick Carraway, the
narrator of the story, that she hates careless people. (63) We also realize that
the color green is probably the most important in the novel, as it could
represent the money the power it has in society. Gatsby has a large green lawn
with green ivy going up his house. These things represent the riches and the
importance of the almighty dollar in Gatsby’s life. The color green also tells
us that Jay is new to his money, just as a green apple is new to the tree.
However Gatsby’s American Dream was not money and wealth, it was Daisy, and he
had to have his money to get to his dream.

East Egg and West Egg are the two small communities that Gatsby and his
beloved Daisy live. These two boroughs were directly across from each other
separated by water on three sides. The two Eggs were located just outside the
Valley of Ashes, a poor community, half way between New York and the precious
little Eggs. Fitzgerald places the three communities close to each other, to
give the reader the contrast between the rich and the poor. Millionaires
occupied both East and West Egg, with the exception of a few inferior souls.
Nick Carraway, the narrator, lived amongst the rich, as a matter of fact, right
next door to Gatsby. When Nick tells the story the reader feels that he