American Dream In The Story Of The Great Gatsby
The story of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald starts off by introducing the Narrator, his name is Nick. Nick is a neighbor to a very mysterious man named Jay Gatsby. Gatsby and Nick live on the west egg. The west egg is where the self-made, wealthy people live. The east egg is where the people with “old money” live, they are very superficial and shallow. Two of those people being Tom and Daisy Buchanan. Tom is the husband of Daisy, they were both brought into this world very wealthy. They have not had to work for anything in their lives. They were born with the “American Dream”. The “American Dream” is a very well-known theme in this story. People in the story, like Jay Gatsby, are striving to achieve the American dream. The two prevalent social classes in the story are “Old Money” and “New Money”. The social class that someone is in affects how they treat others and how others treat them.
The “old money” social class is basically the people who grew up wealthy and did not have to work for anything. These people are usually very stuck up and materialistic. They think the world revolves around them because all of their lives they were treated amazingly because of their social class. In the 20s, money and the American dream was everything. If someone has no money, they are not contributing anything to society, therefore they are useless. Nick is talking to the readers as he states this while having a meeting with Tom. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy, who smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money, or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made”. When Nick calls Tom and Daisy reckless, it tells the readers that he understands their true intentions and who they are as people. They are not people to look up to or envy, they are simply spoiled children who do not care about anything unless it concerns them directly. They do what they please and act for their own pleasure. Just because someone is high up on the social ladder doesn’t make them a good person. It just changes how people on the outside treat you until they learn their true colors.
Social class is not just a theme in a story. The American Dream is also not just a theme in a story. In history, back when immigrants were flooding into America, they thought they would receive the American dream, which included money, a happy marriage, education for their children, and a beautiful place to live. When they got here, they did not receive that. Instead, they were discriminated against. Now that America has evolved and racism is not as common as it was, the American dream is very prevalent within the United States. “Social class, once so easily assessed by the car in the driveway or the purse on the arm, has become harder to see in the things that Americans buy. Rising incomes, flattening prices, and easily available credit have given so many Americans access to such a wide array of high-end goods that traditional markers of status have lost much of their meaning.” Americans base it on how important people are to their social class. If a man was homeless on the street dying and right next to him Kim Kardashian tripped and fell, who do you think would be helped first? It has always been money over compassion. Tom and Daisy in The Great Gatsby are looked up to by many people. It does not matter how you act as a person. If you have money, everything will go your way. Take Tom, as an example, Tom cheated on Daisy with Myrtle because Myrtle wanted her way into wealth. Daisy knew about the affair and was offered a happy life with Gatsby, but still chose Tom for his wealth.
Now the “Old money” aspect of the book is quite different than the “new money”. Gatsby is a great example of someone who was chasing the American Dream and someone who has to work for their wealth. He was not just handed money like Tom and Daisy. Although Gatsby worked for his money, his money came in illegal ways. Gatsby was a bootlegger and sold illegal alcohol over the counters. He has a rags to riches story, but it is not very pure and innocent. Gatsby wants to complete his american dream by winning over Daisy. But he was not able to do that because of Tom and his wealth. The first night Nick meets Gatsby, he stands silently and then reaches out his arms toward something across the water. “He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily, I glanced seaward–and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby, he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness”. The green light can symbolize money, success, and the past. The people with “new money” are not quite as content with their wealth and life as the people with “old money” are.
While social class and the American dream are very big themes in the story The Great Gatsby, these themes go outside of the book and structure how people live their daily lives. Homeless people in the world get treated poorly compared to how very well-known rich people get treated. The Great Gatsby is a great example for a story that shows how people in different social classes are treated. “Old money” and “new money” are two different social classes in the story. Gatsy, who is classified in the “old money” class, treats people much nicer than Tom, who is in the “new money” class. Gatsby is a lot less entitled than Tom. The social class that someone indefinitely affects how they treat others and how others treat/see them.
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