- All Best Essays, Term Papers and Book Report

The Great Gatsby

Essay by   •  January 8, 2014  •  Essay  •  1,927 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,769 Views

Essay Preview: The Great Gatsby

Report this essay
Page 1 of 8

The Great Gatsby

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a social criticism pointing out the decay and downfall of American society in the 1920's. It does this in three distinct ways. First, Fitzgerald questions the American Dream: has it been morphed into something it wasn't intended to be? Or does it exist at all? Second, he introduces the overwhelming theme of carelessness in his novel, especially related to the upper class. Third, he notes the lack of moral values in the characters in the story, and in society as a whole. The author is questioning the integrity of society, the people within it, and what is in store for their future.

An overwhelming theme in this novel is the theme of carelessness in the upper class. Fitzgerald suggests that their contribution to society is generally a negative one due to certain events that happen in the story. Fitzgerald uses characters to contrast different attitudes in the novel. Nick is established as a down-to-earth, hard-working citizen in the first pages in the novel. This is clearly a setup for Nick to be a contrast point with the other characters in the novel. For example Nick says: "Welcome or not, I found it necessary to attach myself to someone before I should begin to address cordial remarks to passers-by."(Fitzgerald 44) On the other hand, Lucille states, "I never care what I do, so I always have a good time."(45) We see this contrast clearly when Nick meets Jordan Baker. Meeting Jordan embarrasses Nick; he feels it is necessary to say something to her out of common courtesy and to make a good impression. Lucille on the other hand says something very outrageous, juvenile, and irrational. These two happening are one page apart; this is not an accident. Fitzgerald shows us how the average middle class citizen thinks through the character of Nick. Then we see Fitzgerald's perspective on how the rich think and their process of thought through Jordan, Lucille, and other characters in the book. There is a sharp contrast between Nick, who is concerned about what he says during one specific altercation, and Lucille who is referring to her whole lifestyle, and the actual way she thinks. It is a major theme the author conveys page after page throughout the novel: carelessness and lack or regard is a hallmark of the upper class. One of the best examples is when Nick confronts Jordan about almost hitting a construction worker on the side of the road. Jordan nonchalantly replies: "they'll keep out of my way."(59) This quote is very short and simple, yet shocking, because of the sheer bluntness of the statement. This is the other way Fitzgerald demonstrates the carelessness of the upper class, through sheer bluntness. Time and time again throughout this novel, not only do the characters not care, but they show they don't care in such a straightforward and blunt way, that it's no mystery what the characters are thinking. Even when Gatsby dies and Nick is trying to round up people to attend the funeral, Klipspringer calls, and far from expressing concern or grief about Gatsby, he bluntly says to Nick: "What I called up about was a pair of shoes I had left there. I wonder if it'd be too much trouble to have the butler send them on."(160) Klipspringer has the audacity to ask about a pair of running shoes, when the man's house he is calling is dead, and he has no intention of attending the funeral. He is as blunt as can be, showing no emotion or sympathy, just being businesslike as usual. Fitzgerald wants the reader to be shocked at these blunt statements, and there are many, all for a good reason. He wants to highlight the callous disregard the upper class have for anyone other than themselves. He makes this clear through the carelessness of the characters in his novel, "The Great Gatsby."

Fitzgerald uses the absence of morality in "The Great Gatsby" to critique society as a whole, to point out how things are not how they used to be, and how people tend to be governed by selfish impulse, instead of by their heart. We get an inside look on how the author feels about the way society has taken a turn for the worse, through almost every character. Almost all of them exhibit bad qualities and flaws in their personality. Fitzgerald portrays the 1920's as a time of materialism and greed; he does this through many of the main characters in the novel. Tom is a good example of a flawed character, when he is sharing his thoughts on white supremacy and how he very much enjoyed a heavily racist novel, The Rise of the Coloured Empires. He says: "Well, it's a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don't look out the white race will be - will be utterly submerged."(18) He is freely sharing that he is a racist and he does not much care what he's saying or if he's offending anyone, and it goes without saying that being racially biased is a completely foolish thing, and he is not a very accepting man. Perhaps the best example of the lack of morality in society as a whole, is when everybody takes advantage of Gatsby's money and his parties, but only a handful show up, when it comes time for his funeral. "The minister glanced several times at his watch, so I took him aside and asked him to wait half an hour. But it wasn't any use. Nobody came."(165) The question that Fitzgerald poses is: Where is everybody that came to his parties? He suggests that society is losing its integrity and it is becoming hollow, by becoming a



Download as:   txt (10.7 Kb)   pdf (126.8 Kb)   docx (12.8 Kb)  
Continue for 7 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2014, 01). The Great Gatsby. Retrieved 01, 2014, from

"The Great Gatsby" 01 2014. 2014. 01 2014 <>.

"The Great Gatsby.", 01 2014. Web. 01 2014. <>.

"The Great Gatsby." 01, 2014. Accessed 01, 2014.