Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Commentary over Gatsby (the initial chapters)

Please respond in a reflective writing over the following prompt; I do not want to see you copying other people's ideas.  Think for yourself.  I expect you to have an original thesis, 3 pieces of textual evidence and you must explain the data you use.  Follow the subsequent prompt:

Fitzgerald wrote a 1938 letter: "that was always my experience-a poor boy in a rich town; a poor boy in a rich boy's school; a poor boy in a rich man's club in Princeton...However, I have never been able to forgive the rich for being rich, and it has colored my entire life and works."
Just to think about: What is Fitzgerald saying here?  Is he assuming that rich and poor are different?
Are they?  Is it even possible to cross class boundaries and still fit in?  How might Fitzgerald works be criticizing notions of class, wealth and privilege?
This is your question to answer: Where in the first two chapters do questions of class, wealth and privilege come into play?  What is their effect?

31 comments:

  1. The role of wealth and class in the first two chapters of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has a negative effect on the reader; Instead of a clear view of all the characters, the book is shown through Nick’s eyes, who could represent Fitzgerald, but all of the rich people are shown as snobs and as terrible people, which negatively affects the way the reader interprets these characters. For example, Myrtle, a rich woman, is conveyed in a poor way in a discussion about the man she married, and how she regrets it because he isn’t rich and high class: “‘I married him because I thought he was a gentleman,’ she said finally. ‘I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe...I knew right away I made a mistake. He borrowed somebody’s best suit to get married in’” (Fitzgerald 35). Thus, Fitzgerald uses his prejudice in his writing through the narrator to show his deep and abiding hurt for being poor. Another time in this book when the reader is misled by Fitzgerald’s way of hating on the rich is when he is describing where he lives: “I lived at West Egg, the-well, the less fashionable of the two...My house was at the very tip of the egg, only fifty yards from the Sound, and squeezed between two huge places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season” (Fitzgerald 5). Clearly, Nick feels humbled and sore about his home. He is slightly embarrassed about its size, it’s location, and the way that other people might see it in contrast to the two huge houses on either side of it. Thus, the reader again sees how Fitzgerald’s life has influenced his writing and that his disposition against the rich is shown in how he conveys this image to the reader. One last example of how the reader is not given a pure view on aspects of the book is when Myrtle buys a dog: “‘I want to get one of those dogs,’ she said earnestly. ‘I want to get one for the apartment. They’re nice to have-a dog’” (Fitzgerald 27). Here, the reader is shown the way that people so freely spent their money. This was the 1920’s, and so people often spent money they didn’t have yet, but none the less, if you could put something on a tab or credit, that meant you were rich. In the way Fitzgerald writes the dialogue that the character shows, he gives a little bit of a snobbish sense to it, and so the reader begins to hate Myrtle. Ultimately, Fitzgerald’s life really influenced his works, and he shows the reader his soreness over being poor through Nick, the narrator, who portrays the rich people in a bad light.

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  2. The Poor of the Wealthy
    Those who have money to waste often don’t know their time and place. As a wise man once said, more money more problems. It’s interesting how those who seem to have everything turn out to have nothing. They are lost even though ironically they can afford to buy the map. Maybe this inquiry is due to the notion that they never had to work for something in their lives, however their are those who had to do exactly that to gain their stature and wealth. Really what it comes down to is the person that waving their green around as if it was meant to be carried like leaves through the wind. I don’t believe money can buy happiness if their is no happiness to begin with. However if the happiness is their form the start, then money will either darken it with an envious green color, or it will brighten like grass on a cool summer day. Those who have wealth tend to think themselves higher than those who don’t, they don’t see it fit to be with those financially and socially blow them. Even if those they consider to be below them have more wealth of knowledge and people then they could ever purchase at a store. So far in the great Gatsby we have seen this idea of wealth everywhere. We see characters display arrogance and those who envy them display judgment and hate. Fitzgerald, as seen in the letter he wrote before the prompt, never was very keen of those he considered rich. And through Nick’s supposedly unjudgemental eyes we see just how poor the rich really are. “About half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is the valley of ashes...” (Fitzgerald 23) I chose this first quote because so far this have been the greatest indicator of classes in the book. We know about the wealthy in both Eggs but now Fitzgerald shows us this place in the middle full of working class men and women who live complete opposite lives to the characters we’ve met. This creates a sense of separation for the reader. “‘I married him because I thought he was a gentleman,’ she said finally. ‘I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe.’” (Fitzgerald 34) This is Mrs. Wilson talking about why she married her husband. Now that she has been seeing Tom, who is very wealthy, she looks down upon her husband who she once loved. Fitzgerald does this to show how money and power and social stature can poison and erode a person's morals and viewpoints. “I lived at West Egg, the-well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag...” (Fitzgerald 5) Fitzgerald shows, through this passage from Nick, that even the rich classified the rich. Nick it talking about where he lives in the first few pages of the book and so right away we are told that there are two different sections, the East and West Egg and then later the valley of ashes. All of which hold people that live by different standards and different amounts of fortune. This shows how peoples environment, including where they live and what they do and how much money they and their neighbors make dictates how a person acts and where their morals are. Fitzgerald beautifully weaves these ideals of social classes and the wealthy compared to the less fortunate very well in his book. He also manages to do it somewhat sneakily as the reader really has to look to find the meanings behind his diction. Their effect is that they really make the reader ponder his or her own life and what impacts and drives them. Weather it be the desire for power, money, or stature.

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  3. Throughout all of human history, people have judged others based on their social status. Aspects of life that make up social status include annual income, house size, friends, and personal privileges. For the most part, in America today it is not seen as socially unacceptable to associate oneself with another from a different class. However it has not always been this way, especially during the 1920s. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald utilizes the questions of class, wealth, and privilege to convey the idea that all of these superficial aspects of life denounce the important parts of life. The first time the reader can see this in the book is when Nick introduces the story and talks about how people’s backgrounds affect them for their whole life: “I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth” (Fitzgerald 2). The one decision if life humans can never change will always be the family they are born into. Nick describes the way both him and his father call this reality as snobbish. This implies that while it may not be the truth most want to hear, it is still the truth. The word “unequally” obviously means their advantages at the start of life are all different and sometimes unfair. Another piece of evidence that supports this claim is when Nick talks to Tom and Tom says, “‘I’ve got a nice place here,’ he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly” (Fitzgerald 7). The first part of this quote sticks out because Tom brings up the topic of his house quality. For most people, common courtesy states one should wait for others to say compliments and then say “thank you” in response. Because he brings it up first, it shows how he is so used to being complimented he just starts doing it himself. Through this the reader can see how Tom’s class, wealth, and privilege push away his sense of humbleness and make him arrogant. The final way Fitzgerald illuminates the downgrading of humans is when Tom acts like he is superior to Wilson as him and Nick wait for Myrtle: “‘No, he doesn’t,’ said Tom coldly. ‘And if you feel that way about it, maybe I’d better sell it somewhere else after all’ (Fitzgerald 25). The word choice Fitzgerald conveys a very specific image in the reader’s head. As Tom talks he does it in a cold manner. This implies he is very shut off and feels himself to be higher than Wilson. Tom says this quote right after Wilson makes a negative comment about one of Tom’s friends. As soon as Wilson tried to act like him and Tom were equals, Tom instantly turns into this hard man who seems to only care about himself. Throughout the entire book so far, Fitzgerald tries to warn the reader that class, wealth, and privilege can create walls between humans that can never be broken down.

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  4. F. Scott FItzgerald shadows the rich in a negative light quite regularly; he seems to suggest that all the rich are doing is compensating with their money for what they lack within themselves. In the very beginning of the novel Nick first introduces the fact that he has been raised on some sort of moral high ground by his parents, from whom he was taught not to judge. “I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth” (Fitzgerald 2). Nick is stating that not only are people born into money but they are born into their “fundamental decencies”, their kindness and goodness are inherent as well. Just as wealth seems to be given out unequally at birth so is common decency, which the wealthy people in The Great Gatsby seem to be lacking in. Again in the very opening of the novel Fitzgerald seems to be attacking the rich “When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction—Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn” (Fitzgerald 2). Those who Nick surrounded himself with, as we know later, the wealthy Tom and Daisy have sickened him. They seem to have lacked morals and spent money to enthuse themselves rather than do anything of moral significance. Gatsby may not be of the old wealth of East Egg but he seems to maybe have been born with some of the “common decencies” that Nick previously mentioned. It is almost as if to say that be does not hate the wealthy but those who have little regard for money. Those who grew up fabulously wealthy and never had to want for anything or work for anything. Money has always been an absolute for these people where for some one of new wealth would have had to work to come into their wealth. Fitzgerald does not exclusively have a commentary on the wealthy but those who covet wealth as he later explains with Myrtle; “‘I married him because I thought he was a gentleman,’ she said finally. ‘I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe.’” (Fitzgerald 34). Little is know of Myrtle’s past but it could be inferred that she has never been truly “wealthy” during her life. One could blame Myrtle’s affair on the fact that Tom can provide something her husband Wilson cannot, money. When she travels from the Valley of Ashes to the city her personality has a drastic change. She seems more proud and less brimming with vitality, as if simply pretending to be rich has made her less a person than she was minutes ago. Fitzgerald seems to paint such an ugly picture of money it helps to form the question what being rich truly does to a person. The characters are covered with this image that money has made them empty, careless, and with little regard for others, not a particular kind description. He seems to suggest having wealth, or wanting it makes one disconnected from the rest of the world, disconnected with anything of meaning, only pursuing what satisfies their hunger for something more without knowing what that may truly be.

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  5. In the first two chapters of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses Nick’s experiences with Tom Buchanan to show the reader the contemptuous nature of the entire upper class. Fitzgerald first introduces the reader to Tom when Nick arrives to the Buchanan’s mansion; “and Tom Buchanan in riding clothes was standing with his legs apart on the front porch. He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward” (Fitzgerald 7). Tom’s riding clothes can be seen as a sign that Tom possesses great wealth and thus, are designed to impress upon the viewer Tom’s superiority. The outfit that Nick is first introduced to Tom, much like the flowing ivy of his house, is designed to remind the world that having wealth is equal to superiority. Fitzgerald’s introduction of Tom implies that Tom is an arrogant man which sets the tone for how the audience should view him for the rest of the novel. By depicting Tom as a shallow and supercilious person, Fitzgerald is suggesting that the entire upper class is guilty of these traits. Fitzgerald not only uses the physical description of Tom to show the reader the contemptuous nature of the entire upper class, but he also conveys this ideal through the comments that Tom makes. Tom’s egotistical nature can be seen during his interaction with a dog salesman; “It’s a bitch,” said Tom decisively. “Here’s your money. Go and buy ten more dogs with it” (Fitzgerald 28). Tom has a constant tendency to make himself more dominant than those around him. In this example he does so through the use of money, but he has also attempted to remain dominant amongst those around him by cheating on his wife, spending large amounts of money, and hitting women. Through Nick’s experiences with Tom Buchanan, Fitzgerald shows the reader the contemptuous nature of the entire upper class. This example of Tom’s need for dominance is constant, and is pertinent when Tom is talking to Nick on the train, “We’re getting off,” he insisted. “I want you to meet my girl.” I think he’d tanked up a good deal at luncheon, and his determination to have my company bordered on violence. The supercilious assumption was that on Sunday afternoon I had nothing better to do” (Fitzgerald 24). Tom views Nick as inferior so he assumes that Nick is lucky to be getting away from his dull life and, instead, do something that’s entertaining.This description of Tom is consistent with his first description in Chapter 1. He is “supercilious” and he still pushes Nick around when he wants him to go somewhere. By depicting Tom as an arrogant and superficial person, Fitzgerald is implying that the entire upper class is guilty of these transgressions.

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  6. In The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald shows that having wealth and riches gains people nothing of true value in life. The first two chapters of The Great Gatsby seem to indicate that wealth is fairly empty. A majority of the rich people in the book are quite superficial. They do not care about anyone or anything very deeply. Only wealth and pleasure is important. Tom Buchanan is a good example of how the rich only care to please themselves. He gets up to take a phone call at dinner when a woman named Jordan Baker explains the situation: “‘You mean to say you don’t know?...Why--’ she said hesitantly, Tom’s got some woman in New York’” (Fitzgerald 15). Tom Buchanan is having an affair with a woman and he is not even courteous enough to hold off answering her calls until he is far from his wife’s presence. Tom does not care about his wife, Daisy, a whole lot or he wouldn’t be running off with someone else. He also does not completely care for the other woman, named Myrtle, either. This affair shows how, in Tom’s mind, his power and status entitle him to do whatever he wants. The rich see themselves above others and constantly have to exert themselves in that position. Daisy tells the narrator, Nick, how she feels about life: “You see I think everything’s terrible anyhow. Everybody thinks so--the most advanced people. And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything. Sophisticated--God, I’m sophisticated!” (Fitzgerald 17). Daisy sees a need to express her class, sophistication, and how absolutely wonderful she thinks she is. Even in this statement though, Daisy contradicts what she is trying to say about wealth. Instead of proving how great and important it is to be wealthy, she proves the opposite. She is talking about how everyone she knows, and all the “most advanced” people are unhappy. In that small conversation Daisy, herself, proves that wealth does not equate to happiness. Individuals, like Daisy, of the upper-class have nothing to work for and nothing new to experience. This leaves them searching for other material means of happiness. Everything that is important to the rich revolves around the shallow notions of other rich people, thus resulting in a life that lacks substance. Well-to-do people are constantly starting rumors, lying, and gossiping. Catherine, Myrtle’s sister, reveals to Nick why Tom and Myrtle supposedly don’t just get married to each other: “She lowered her voice again. ‘Its’s really his wife that’s keeping them apart. She’s a Catholic, and they don’t believe in divorce.’ Daisy was not a Catholic, and I was a little shocked at the elaborateness of the lie” (Fitzgerald 33). By this, it is evident that Catherine does not know what she is talking about in regards to Daisy, but she tells it like absolute truth. Tom made up a lie to get out of marrying Myrtle, Catherine is gossiping and Nick is sitting there baffled by the whole situation. No one is honest and everyone is living some kind of a lie. It is hard to imagine a life that is so full of secrets that one cannot even go through a conversation before running into more deception. If every bit of trust was gone from all relationships, between friends, acquaintances, husband and wife, no wonder the lives of the wealthy were so full of depressing corruption. Overall, the wonderful appeal to be the rich and wealthy is only glamorous on the surface, as mirrored by the people who live that lifestyle. Fitzgerald shows that it is more important to go after things and people who will bring you lasting joy, than it is to live the empty life of the rich.

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  7. The rich and the poor are different. Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby to prove this point. This is highlighted in the first two chapters by showing the contrast of the rich and the poor. The rich grew up with more than enough while the poor had to compromise at every turn. The rich will always act rich and the poor will act poor because it is the way they were raised. On the opening page of The Great Gatsby the narrator Nick quotes his father saying, “Just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had” (Fitzgerald 1). Nick’s family was rich. He grew up learning to be humble because of what he had. The poor do not need to learn to be humble. They are humble from the beginning. Throughout his life Nick will act rich because this is what was ingrained within him from the time he was born. He may lose all of his money but he will never fit in with the poor because he was not raised the same as them. By mentioning “advantages” Fitzgerald is highlighting the money and status that Nick has always been accustomed to. He has always been ahead of the rest because of his money. This money raised him and the other rich people of the world into the next generation of rich men and woman. The woman are especially affected by this cycle. Their mothers raise them to be ladies so that they can grow up and marry a rich man. The rich women want rich men because they like the quality of life they provide. But sometimes the rich woman does not do the “right” thing and instead marries a not so rich man. In the story Myrtle laments about her decision, “The only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew right away I made a mistake” (Fitzgerald 35). She thought she messed up because the man she married was not loaded. He did not have the fancy car, clothes, and house and apparently no way to get them. Myrtle said she immediately regretted marrying him. This is because she thought of what her mother would say. Her parents raised her with pampering and money. They expected her to stay in the money and so did she. But as she realized the reality of her situation she mourned her lost money. She had gone against her upbringing and would spend the rest of her life trying to escape her reality and return to the rich life. One does not choose to act rich or poor. It is ingrained in them from the time they are brought into the world. A child’s upbringing determines if they are going to be rich or poor.

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  9. In Fitzgerald's life he experienced both the accompaniment of poor and rich people. In the quote, "that was always my experience-a poor boy in a rich town; a poor boy in a rich boy's school; a poor boy in a rich man's club in Princeton...However, I have never been able to forgive the rich for being rich, and it has colored my entire life and works." he shows how he preferred the life of a poor man over the life of a rich man. He could never understand what made rich people think they were better than everyone else. Fitzgerald's book, The Great Gatsby, shows exactly how he feels about the rich population. Within the book, many examples are given to show the effects of the characters being privileged, wealthy and have a higher class. It is revealed that the rich society are on a constant search for something more than what they have, although they have enough material needs to last them their lifetime. During the beginning of the book, the narrator travels to New York City with Tom and his friends. While in New York, Nick follows Tom and his group of friends to an apartment where many interesting events happen. The group begins to talk about status and class, when Nick observes many faults in the rich society. A woman named Myrtle once expressed her opinion about her previous lovers, “‘I married him because I thought he was a gentleman...I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe’” (Fitzgerald 34). THis shows how even though myrtle was in love with a man, she would not marry him because he was too far below her. Social class and stature is so important to this select group of people that they would throw away love before marrying a poor man. Fitzgerald is trying to show this discrepancy in the rich class through subtle quotes and passages such as this one. The select rich population is so askew from normal humanistic qualities, that they disregard common sense and feelings. This is exactly what Fitzgerald is trying to show. The rich only care for money and themselves. There is an absence of basic human qualities and it causes these people to act out of what lies in their ego.

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  10. Another case where the rich class has intentionally set themselves apart from the lower and poorer classes is when Catherine talks about a man that wanted to marry her after a trip to Europe, “‘I almost married a little kike who’d been after me for years. I knew he was below me. Everybody kept saying to me: ‘Lucille, that man’s ‘way below you!’ But if I hadn’t met Chester, he’d gotten me for sure” (Fitzgerald 34). Many things about the rich class are revealed from this statement. Not only do they see other religions and social classes as lower and inhumane, but they view this memory in their own life as a mistake and smudge on their record. Catherine goes on to talk about how thankful she is that she did not have to marry a poor gentleman, and she was able to marry a rich and improper man. The thing that Fitzgerald reveals within this quote is that often the rich take things for granted and do not appreciate all that goes around them. From the perspective of the man that Cathrine left, he was heart broken and depressed for the love of his life rejected him just due to the fact that he did not belong to the rich social class. This just shows self serving the rich class is. Catherine didn't worry about the effect of her leaving her man, she could only think about how it would affect her social status if she ended up marrying that man. Continuing on with the theme of woman and their husbands, Catherine goes on to tell the reader how she would’ve felt had she married a man of lower class than her. She even did marry a man whom see assumed to be a rich and classy man but after their wedding she found out otherwise, “‘The only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew right away I made a mistake. He borrowed somebody’s best suit to get married in, and never even told me about it, and the man came after it one day when he was out.’ She looked around to see who was listening. ‘Oh is that your suit?’ I said. ‘This is the first I ever heard about it.’ But I gave it to him and then I lay down and cried to beat the band all afternoon”(Fitzgerald 34). When a person breaks down and cries for an entire day just because they found out that their spouse has less money than the thought, is when that person needs to check themselves into a mental institute. This is a dehumanizing factor among the richest and the top class, and it is exactly what Fitzgerald is trying to expose. He is trying to show that everybody in the rich class thinks they have all they could ask for, yet they still lack something. That something they lack are the basic human qualities they left behind when they became top class animals. This type of person lacks many things that a poorer person might have, yet these people are still searching for something more in their lives. Since Fitzgerald has experienced both side of the money spectrum, he is trying to express his opinions about the high and rich side through this book. Rich people as a whole just aren’t decent people, and lack qualities that would make them human. This is exactly what Fitzgerald is trying to express in the first chapters of The Great Gatsby.

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    1. Unfortunately I had To break up my response on two different posts due to space limitations.

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  11. Throughout the first two chapters of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, most all of the wealthy characters are characterized as artificial and even just crummy people in general. This causes the reader to acquire a negative image in their head as a stereotypical rich person. This is perhaps the image that Fitzgerald was trying to convey as he grew up surrounded by affluent people, opposite to himself. Tom, for example, is described as such a pompous figure as Fitzgerald states: “He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy, straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward” (Fitzgerald 7). This attitude that Fitzgerald presents the reader with really causes for an immediate dislike for such a person, almost inspiring the idea that extreme wealth isn't so good after all. Myrtle also gives such an impression when she is introduced, yet in a different manner: “She had changed her dress to a brown figure muslin, which stretched tight over her rather wide hips as Tom helped her to the platform in New York. At the news-stand she bought a copy of Town Tattle and a moving -picture magazine, and in the station drug-store some cold cream and a small flask of perfume” (Fitzgerald 27). Immediately after Myrtle goes from her actual life to being with Tom,she is completely different. By putting on the color brown, a serious, down-to-earth color signifying stability, structure and support, as well as the color of material security and the accumulation of material possessions, it shows how quickly people conform to their society. When Myrtle gains this power for the time being, she turns into more of a control freak and becomes more frivolous in spending money. However, this false feeling of power that Myrtle experiences isn't authentic, so it isn't fooling everyone:
    “‘Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!’ shouted Mrs. Wilson. ‘I’ll say it whenever I want to! Daisy! Dai--’
    Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand” (Fitzgerald 37). This false, invincible feeling that Myrtle gains from Tom causes her to do careless things that she eventually gets punished for. Through this Fitzgerald is telling the reader how power is all in your head and if you don't deserve it, then don't boast. Overall through these first two chapters, Fitzgerald compares the mentality of the rich, the poor, and everything in the middle, and how they should act respectively.

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  12. Throughout the entire first two chapters of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald shows the way an outsider views the life of the more privileged in order to demonstrate the differences between the two classes and how egotistical the rich truly are. Fitzgerald works through his narrator to express his true feelings towards the rich. He paints a certain picture when describing the characters, and he addresses how arrogant they are through the conversations they have. It is a constant battle to represent how much better the rich are than the poor. When Nick goes to visit Tom and Daisy, Tom is not hesitant in showing his superiority: "'Now, don't think my opinion on these matters is final,' he seemed to say, 'just because I'm stronger and more of a man than you are,'" (Fitzgerald 7). Tom is a character that enjoys the fine things in life, and he has no problem with showing those things off. Today, it is normal for when someone enter's a friends home for them to compliment them on what a lovely house they have. In The Great Gatsby, once Nick comes to visit, he is not one to hand out compliments, Tom is. Tom is complimenting his own home simply to throw his accomplishments in Nick's face: "'I've got a nice place here,' he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly," (Fitzgerald 7). Tom is so impresses with himself, he can't help but brag about it to the less fortunate. Myrtle and Tom are two characters that seem to value the exact same things. In chapter two, when introduced to Myrtle, her true personality and intentions are revealed when she starts to talk about her husband: "The only crazy I was was when I married him. I know right away I made a mistake," (Fitzgerald 35). The only quality she can seem to mention about her husband is about how he does make enough money to support the lifestyle she wishes for. She does not care about love, or happiness, or kindness, because money trumps all of that for her. Money seems to be the only thing the rich ever think about, which explains why Fitzgerald never shows much depth to their characters. He paints a bad picture about the more privileged, simply to show the world who they truly are in his eyes.

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  13. Through The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald argues that the rich are superficial, believe that they are better than the poor, and have almost no compassion for the less privileged.
    The first time class comes into play is when Nick is going to the Buchanan’s house in the east egg. As he and Tom chat, the subject of living in the east egg come up and Tom remarks, “’Oh, I’ll stay in the east, don’t you worry,’ he said, glancing at Daisy and then back at me, as if he were alert for something more. ‘I’d be damned fool to live anywhere else.’” Underlined in Tom’s words is his contempt for whomever doesn’t live in the east egg, even wealthy people who live in the west egg. He believes himself to be better than all those who live anywhere else. Furthermore, because the primary reason why other people don’t live in the east egg is that they can’t afford to he is essentially saying that less privileged people are not worth caring about. Tom glances at both Daisy and Nick as if to invite them to question him. This proves that Tom is so convinced of his own value as compared to the less fortunate that he is willing to argue with anyone who might think differently. Fitzgerald also includes that Tom answers very matter-of-factly as shown by his choice in, “don’t you worry,” This is done to emphasize the superiority that Tom feels over other people. Later in the night Tom begins referring to a book called, “The Rise of the Colored Empire,” and shares his opinion over it, “’This idea that we’re Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and- ‘After an infinitesimal hesitation he include Daisy with a slight no, and she winked at me again. ‘-And we’ve produced all the things that go to make civilization-oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?’” To begin, the conversation is both superficial and racist. The things that these extremely wealthy people talk about have no consequence whatsoever. Because these people have no problems in their life beyond the ones that they create they have nothing of value to say or talk about. Furthermore, this discussion of the “lower race,” is also symbolic of their opinion of lower classes. Tom is essentially stating his opinion of everyone who he considers beneath him, whether it be because of race or economic status. A third time that questions of class and wealth come into play is when Nick is sitting in Tom and Myrtle’s apartment listening to Myrtle talk, “’I almost made a mistake, too,’ she declared vigorously. ‘I almost married a little kike who’d been after me for years. I knew he was below me. Everybody kept saying to me: ‘Lucille, that man’s ‘way below you!’ But if I hadn’t met Chester, he’d of got me for sure.’” This is the perfect example of how superficial the people that Tom associated himself with. Fitzgerald does an excellent job of revealing how truly superficial some people, especially the rich, are. The analogue from Mrs. McKee really shows how much these people do not respect people who are less fortunate than them. Mrs. McKee talks of how she almost married a man who wasn’t as rich as Chester, even if he was a great person. She calls him “beneath” her.
    This all proves that within the Great Gatsby, most of the rich are superficial and self-obsessed people.

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  14. F. Scott Fitzgerald bases a lot of his writing off of his own life, including the struggles, accomplishments, and lessons he learns. Fitzgerald's main character usually represents him, in a way that they are both poorer than the people they surround themselves with, and they both strive to fit in with all of the rich people, that are considered a higher class. Fitzgerald’s struggles are mainly comprised of him working his way into a wealthier class, and a richer friend group, and when he succeeds it becomes his accomplishment; these journeys become the lessons he learns about people, and he shares them with us in his works. Fitzgerald uses a narrator named Nick, in The Great Gatsby, to make judgements of people based on their personality and appearance, Nick shares with the reader his insight, which helps reveal how Fitzgerald saw class, wealth, and privilege in the 1920’s. To start the book off Fitzgerald uses Nick to describe the setting including where he lives. His tone gives off a feeling of discontent though, “My own house was an eyesore, but it was a small eyesore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbors lawn, and the consoling proximity of millionaires,” (Fitzgerald 5). This one line sums up Fitzgerald’s view of wealth, class, and privilege entirely. Nick is trying so hard to fit in with the wealthy, that he chooses a house in the less desirable area, between two mansions, and he is left feeling consoled just to be around all of the money, even though he doesn't feel like he has any of it. It is comforting for him to be around the money though because even though he is disappointed with his house, referring to it as an “eyesore”, he would rather have a “partial view of his neighbors yard”, then live in an area more fit for him. He is trying so hard to climb the social class because at this point in his life it seemed like having the glamorous life was the only important thing. At the beginning of the book, Nick goes to meet two of his friends in East Egg, which is much wealthier compared to West Egg where he lives.

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  15. Upon arrival at his friend’s house, Nick makes his perception of his friend Tom very vivid, “Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward,” (Fitzgerald 7). Nick feels like he is already inferior due to the way Tom acts upon the arrival of his guest. He takes a strong stance, and as Nick said he comes off as being very arrogant as he shows off his wonderful house. Nick also mentions that he is supercilious, or that he thinks he is better because he is from East Egg and he has all of the family money. Nick’s tone lets us know that it is frustrating and disappointing for him to be looked down upon, because he just wants to be accepted. Later in the chapter at the same dinner party Tom and Daisy decide that they should put Nick in his place socially even more so, “‘Oh, I’ll stay in the East, don’t you worry,’ he said, glancing at Daisy and then back at me, as if he were alert for something more. ‘I’d be a God damned fool to live anywhere else.’,”(Fitzgerald 11). As if they hadn’t already made Nick feel bad enough about his financial situation, where he lives, and the class he is apart of, Tom decides to go one step further and shut down Nick’s dreams completely. He mocks Nick by mentioning he wouldn’t live anywhere else, including West Egg in Nick’s case. Nick knows that the Buchanans are much more privileged than he is, but he still aspires to live in East Egg one day and have a house and a family like them. Nick has learned his lesson though by the time he is retelling this story, and so has Fitzgerald. All of the high class people with money and privileges may seem to be living a glamorous life from the outside, but really, they are all awful people who have affairs, tell lies, drink their sorrows, and party their lives away. “You can’t have everything,” as some might say, including Nick and Fitzgerald.

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  16. In the first two chapters of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald brings up class in the light of lack of ability to move classes while conveying just enough hope to keep the reader interested. In the first instance of this is in the location of Nick’s humble home: “My house was at the very tip of the egg, only fifty yards from the Sound and squeezed between two huge places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season” (Fitzgerald 5). There is a class difference, he is in the unfashionable west egg but he is so close to the east egg life style he is literally smashed in the middle of it. This symbolizes that Nick is in that class, surrounded by it but he isn’t really a part of it. Though, he could be. He is so close he can almost taste it and it doesn’t just tantalize Nick, but the reader as well though for different reasons. The second time we see hopelessness with hope is about a paragraph later when Nick is on his way to see the Buchanan’s: “Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans. Daisy was my second cousin once removed, and I’d known Tom in college” (Fitzgerald 5). Again Nick isn’t really in with the East Eggers but he is related to one and went to collage with another making him unbelievably close to what he wants so much. He is so close to getting in the big leagues but he is still so far, shown by the distance between the Buchanan’s home and his own. The last instance seen involving the inability to climb the social ladder is through Myrtle and her position on the ladder: “‘Terrible place isn’t it,’ said Tom, exchanging a frown with Doctor Eckleburg. ‘Awful.’ ‘It does her good to get away.’ … So Tom Buchanan and his girl and I went up together to New York” (Fitzgerald 26). Fitzgerald conveys the hopelessness of Myrtle’s situation when Tom says “get away” rather that “escape” or “leave.” But once again Myrtle is so close to escaping she can taste it but still to far from it to realistically be able to escape. Tom's ability to help her and what she wants to escape to is shown in that they go to New York to get away.

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  17. In Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, class and society split rich and poor communities creating a barrier that forces both rich and poor to have societal differences. West Egg and East Egg are both wealthy areas, yet even the fact that one group was born with their money and that one group had to earn theirs sets them apart. Fitzgerald sets off the book with Nick introducing himself and his family. Nick says, “I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth” (Fitzgerald 2). This quote is explaining how just like how some people are born with money and some without, some people are born without the “fundamental decencies”. The way Nick says this, its as if he’s referring to the opinion that it is the poor class in general who are born without these things. One great quote that captures the lifestyle of those who live in East Egg is “The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon” (Fitzgerald 8). The people who were born into wealth are constantly moving and thinker higher of themselves than others. The money has made them more arrogant and they think that they rule the world. However, the West Egg citizens act differently. When describing the garage, Fitzgerald writes, “the interior was unprosperous and bare; the only car visible was the dust-covered wreck of a Ford which crouch in a dim corner” (Fitzgerald 25). This shows the lack of complexity and havoc that floats around these people’s lives. The Ford represents their community as a whole. It looks like a piece of junk when richer people examine it, but to the less fortunate, the Ford looks like a treasure. Most of the actions of the rich and poor are influenced by perspective. This is what we have seen mostly in The Great Gatsby.

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  18. In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, class, wealth, and privilege come into play in various ways that all seem designed to portray those that possess all three as people who think they run the world. For instance, on page 25, Fitzgerald describes a lower class environment from the eyes of someone who lives in the higher class. “The interior was unprosperous and bare; the only car visible was the dust covered wreck of a Ford which crouched in a dim corner.” (25, Fitzgerald). As Nick describes the place, he almost has an air being higher than that. The things he says ordinarily are used in describing something similar to a slum, or the home of someone possessing no money at all. But he’s describing a workplace, which implies that Wilson is getting some kind of income. My guess would be that he is more middle class. The eyes of the extremely wealthy see middle class the way that middle class sees lower class. On page 17, Daisy points out the many things she’s been privileged to do. “I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.” (Fitzgerald, 17) She says them with an air of grandeur that seems designed to make the listener wonder at her words, thinking her chief among beings, elevated on a platform of fancy vacations and extravagant doings. But Nick says she sound insincere, which doesn’t make sense when she has clearly done a number of things that would make anyone jealous. Unless you look at tone. She says it like it’s incredible, as it well may be, to someone with few such experiences. But for Daisy, it’s just everyday life, and she is sharing it as if it isn’t. She tries to make Nick goggle at her privileges, probably because she doesn’t feel it is worth goggling at and needs proof that she is above society by her privileges. This shows that she feels the need to elevate herself above society, even though society does that automatically. And on page 28, Tom is looking at dogs and he uses his wealth as an excuse to make decisions normally reserved for God. “It’s a b****, said Tom decisively. Here’s your money. Go buy ten more dogs with it.” (28, Fitzgerald) When the salesman tells him that the dog is male, he decides its female. This is absurd, perhaps, but not one among them objects to this proposal. They just take him at his word, because he gives the man a ton of money. This shows that those possessing wealth view themselves with god-like reverence, and think that they can hand someone money and make any decision, right down to whether they are male or female. The fact that no one questions this reflects a sort of universal agreement that this is true. In Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, wealth, privilege, and class are symbols of power due to their acceptance in such a position by most of the population.

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  19. Through out The Great Gatsby there are many mentions and hints towards people’s different social classes. Fitzgerald is trying to show that through questioning the wealth and prosperity of people is more than just how much money they attain. The people in this book are very superficial and don’t look to anything else besides the money aspect and being rich. Within the first two chapters wealth and social class has come into play to show the stark differences between high class and low class and to give the impression of how they want to be seen by the outside world. In the beginning, when Nick is explaining where he lives he says, “I live at the West Egg, the-well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.” (Fitzgerald 5). This shows right away a difference between even Nick’s social class and that of the two “eggs”. The people in the West Egg are more old- fashioned rich and aren’t as caught up in the new styles and ways of the high class. By Nick living in the “less fashionable of the two”, it shows how he is able to tell the superficiality of those in the East Egg and give an accurate judgment of them being caught up in the wealth and privileges they have. When Nick goes and meets with Tom Buchanan and his wife, there is another mention of higher class attitude when Tom says, “I’ve got a nice place here,’ he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly.” (Fitzgerald 7). Tom seems to be very fond of his wealth and in order to properly feel of the high class he needs someone to notice his wealth. By him having to compliment his own possessions shows the superficiality and the insecurity he feels. The high class like to show off their wealth and be noticed for the privileges they have and expect the great reactions that come from people not as lucky or in the lower class. They have to insure that people know where they come from and that they are of the high class and plenty rich because that’s all they care about. Later when Tom takes Nick to see his girlfriend, Nick takes notice of their place they live in, “The interior was unprosperous and bare; the only car visible was the dust-covered wreck of a Ford which crouched in dim corner.” (Fitzgerald 25). This is the difference between low and high class. This part of town is not as well off as the more rich places that they have come from. By describing it as “Unprosperous and bare” gives the impression that the people who live there are poor and don’t have much in their lives. They live ordinary unprivileged lives and therefore are looked down upon by the wealthy. The differences between the two are very obvious. As the low class are seen as dirty and pathetic because they have nothing and live without riches or the expenses of the high class. The high class look down upon these people because they see themselves as more sophisticated and happier and would never want to live a life without their wealth and privileges. Fitzgerald is giving the impression and perceptions of the two and trying to show how they both live lives without much importance, but through the different social classes brings out two almost different species of people.

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  20. The Great Gatsby reveals that the upper class is separated into two different groups, those who have been poor and earned their wealth and those who have always had money. Those who have been poor or are poor, seem to have a different take on life. Gatsby for instance earned his wealth and Nick states, “No-Gatsby turned out all-right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interests in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men,” (Fitzgerald 6). This quote involves a little bit of foreshadowing. Gatsby must have gone through some struggle or else Nick wouldn’t say, “he turned out all-right”. Maybe Gatsby goes through this challenge while reaching for the green light. The things that preyed on Gatsby were the people of the upper class. Although Gatsby is a part of this class, this is another example of classes within high society. Gatsby is different than the “foul dust that floated in the wake of his dreams” because unlike the others Gatsby has dreams and as it states at the end, the men who have always had money have fleeting happiness and don’t mourn the things they don’t finish. Gatsby on the other hand is striving and persistent toward a dream that he believes will give him eternal happiness. The dream Gatsby is trying to reach is exposed as Nick sees him,“...he stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way, and as 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,” (Fitzgerald 25). This is the reader’s first introduction to Gatsby. Nick describes him from a distance but he can still tell that as he reaches his arms towards the water he is “trembling”. This ver use means to show the reader that Gatsby is reaching so hard that he begins to shake. Then Nick states that he looks towards the water but it was “involuntary” almost as if Gatsby is the type of person who can make you do something without knowing why. Nick sees a green light out in the distance where Gatsby is reaching, green being the color of envy it is clear that Gatsby is envious of something or someone. Then Nick states that the green light was “a minute and far away” this is why Gatsby is trembling so hard, because what ever he is envious of is so close but he can’t reach it. Gatsby rose to wealth unlike the men around him, this is why he still has hopes and dreams while the men who have always been wealthy are complacent. Fitzgerald introduces the poor people living in New York City, specifically he introduces his mistress’ husband, “He was a blond, spiritless man, anaemic, and faintly handsome. When he saw us a damp gleam of hope sprang into his light blue eyes,” (Fitzgerald 29). Fitzgerald states that the man had hope in his eyes when he saw Tom and Nick. Unlike those who have always been rich, this man has hope for the future, and hope that he may better himself. Tom has everything he could ever dream of and is not happy because he doesn’t have anymore dreams, this poor man on the other hand seeks a better life for himself and therefore has the chance to fulfill his dreams.

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  21. Throughout The Great Gatsby, the idea that wealth makes an individual superior and powerful is illuminates through Nicks interaction with Daisy and Tom, as well as Myrtle which Fitzgerald uses to show his relationship to the rich as well as their shallow nature. When Nick first arrived at his new home in West Egg, he decided to visit his cousin Daisy. When he first arrived he was met with a breathtaking mansion that was stunned him with it’s beauty. Alas, when he met Tom, he was less than impressed by his personality and the way that he thought of his wealth; “ ‘I’ve got a nice place here,’ he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly.” (Fitzgerald 7). This quote portrayed how Fitzgerald see’s the rich and how he thinks that they behave. By writing that Tom recognized his wealth it unveiled how egocentric his rich character truly. This reflected directly back onto Fitzgerald’s disdain for the rich because he is constantly trying to put them down and make them look shallow. Another example of this was when Nick first met Myrtle. His first impression of her was less than satisfactory and he was very opposed to her “holy than thou” attitude, nick commentated, “...her chin was raised a little, as if she were balancing something on it….if she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it.” (Fitzgerald 8). This description of Myrtle shows how highly she think of herself. The fact that she didn’t even flinch to the fact that someone walked in, illuminates how she doesn’t care about others and their meek opinions of her. The way that she carries herself with her chin held high portrays how she thinks of herself as better than everyone around her. Again, this description embodies Fitzgeralds contempt towards the rich and their ways. His writing is all negative towards the wealthy and is illuminated through various experts in the story. Fitzgerald also portrays his attitude towards the well-off through Tom’s actions within the story. Right after dinner was announced Tom was very forceful to Nick showing his dominance; “Tom Buchanan compelled me from the room as though he were moving a checker to another square,” (Fitzgerald 11). By Nick narrating that Tom moved him “as though he were moving a checker to another square” it unveils how Fitzgerald thinks of the rich as manipulative and powerful. This synonym shows how Tom thinks of himself as more powerful than Nick, the lower class man, and how Tom is very quick to use his power. He had only known Nick for a short time, yet he is already pushing him around like a game piece. Fitzgeralds opinion of the wealthy, once again, shows itself throughout The Great Gatsby and never ceases to shows his distaste and bitter opinion towards them.

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  22. In Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the line between classes and wealth is shown in many senses throughout the book, such as literally in the valley of ashes, and hinted at by Nick’s memories of his father.
    In chapter two, Fitzgerald introduces the reader to the valley of ashes, an area that separates East Egg, from West Egg, where the first wealth gap is seen. The valley of ashes shows what remains after many people pursue wealth. As large cities are built, and a dumping for the rubble and ashes had to be created. The valley of ashes is also a home to those who failed in their pursuit for money and must live a life of poverty. The valley of ashes is a big symbol in this book for it represents how validity is lost when one is considered “poor”. While this is true or just what is believed by the wealthy, questions about the rich and poor start to arise. At the beginning of chapter one, Nick shares a memory of his father saying, “I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth,” (Fitzgerald 1). In this passage Nick explains that money isn’t the only thing inherited by people. Some people are naturally just nicer and more honest, meaning they have more "sense of the fundamental decencies." All of Fitzgeralds writings are focused around these wealth gaps and he describes the differences between the wealthy and poor very vividly. The effect that these descriptions play is giving the reader an outside perspective so they can see the good and bad of each extreme.

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  23. Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby draws distinctive lines between those of wealth and class and those without. In chapter (blank) Fitzgerald demonstrates the exclusive air of the wealthy describing, “Why they came East I don’t know. They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together,”(Fitzgerald 17).Nick describes the actions of the wealthy as if he is not quite sure what they do. This symbolizes that they are part of mysterious and select group of people, one in which outsider like Nick who don’t have wealth and power, cannot belong. Fitzgerald's words, “wherever people played polo and were rich together,” alludes to the idea that only those who belong to the class of wealthy participate in their activities. Fitzgerald even draws lines between those of wealth, explaining, “I lived at West Egg, the—well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them. [...] Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water,”(Fitzgerald 14). Fitzgerald describes that although the East and the West Eggs are home to the wealthiest people in the country, there is a class divide among them. The West Egg is full of the garish “nouveau-riche,” who are looked down upon by the old money affluent of East Egg. Fitzgerald effectively uses this quote to show that class is a matter of perspective, to those who look upon both West and East Eggers from below, they see them as one class of an unattainable wealth; however, those in West Egg see yet another tier in class from their elevated position. They see the poise and nobility of the East Eggers. The “glittering white palaces” symbolize that the East Egg stood as the pinnacle of wealth and class; white represents purity, representing that the wealth and class of the East Eggers was not earned through gambling, of trading bonds, or other potentially dishonest means, but passed down from generation to generation without the stain of the reckless behavior of West Eggers. Fitzgerald also emphasizes that class is something one is born into, not something that one can acquire with large amounts of money or resources. Nick speaks or his elevated moral class describing, “I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth,”(Fitzgerald 7). Nick considers himself better than others in regard to moral decency. He doesn’t see decency as something that can be earned, but simply something one is given. Fitzgerald uses this quote to highlight the impossibility of class mobility. This quote explains that in some aspects, people are inherently unequal, and it is this belief that is used to justify the actions of those who believe they are of higher class against those they believe are lower.

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  24. Fitzgerald displays the contemptuous attitudes which people develop in accordance to possessing great wealth; rich characters in The Great Gatsby embody an arrogant air of superiority. Nick visits Tom Buchanan, an old friend from college, and describes him as having “a supercilious manner” with “a touch of paternal contempt” in his voice (Fitzgerald 7). Tom had simply inherited his riches as “his family were enormously wealthy,” (Fitzgerald 6). Although he did not independently earn the grand amount of money with which he furnishes his luxurious lifestyle, he acts as if he had. His “supercilious manner” is synonymous with a condescending and pompous behavior. The fact that he constantly speaks to others with natural “touch of paternal contempt” in his voice implies a developed sense of disdain and smug pride. He speaks with a false masculine wiseness and looks down upon others. These aspects of Tom’s haughty identity result from his wealth- or rather, his family’s wealth. Fitzgerald is stressing that monetary riches inflate one’s ego and contribute to a vain and patronizing attitude. Jordan Baker adopts a similar nature of arrogance and snobbiness; when Nick first sees her, he notices that she held “her chin raised a little, as if she were balancing something on it,” (Fitzgerald 10). This simple description immediately attributes characteristics of superiority to Jordan. To hold one’s chin in a such a manner commonly implies an air of self importance and that one is looking down upon others. This suggests more pompousness and snootiness; Jordan is disrespectful in the way she views others with disdain. These behaviors come from the fact that Jordan lives a comfortable and rich lifestyle, similar to Tom and his wife Daisy. Her wealth has encouraged her into embodying contempt and superciliousness, as well as the overall assumption that she is better than others; with these, she feels justified in behaving disrespectfully as her body language suggests scorn. In New York, Nick is acquainted with a circle of superior and class-obsessed wealthy people. During their conversations, Mrs. McKee tells about how she nearly “‘...married a little kike who’d been after me for years. I knew he was below me. Everybody kept saying to me ‘Lucille, that man’s way below you!’’” (Fitzgerald 34). To state as fact that one is below another is highly judgmental and indicates a clear sense of haughtiness. Even in the realm of relationships, which are typically a subject of intimacy, Mrs. McKee’s arrogance and contempt overrules any compassion. McKee claims that “everybody” told her the same; she surrounds herself with people of similar wealth whom disrespectfully define others by class. These individuals envision themselves as belonging to a high class and feel justified in looking down upon others whom they believe are in lower classes. Their wealth has produced such cruelty and shallowness in their morals and behavior. Possessing great amounts of money has left Mrs. McKee and others like her with a condescending, superficial behavior. Fitzgerald utilizes characterization to emphasize the negative effects of wealth; The Great Gatsby communicates that rich people tend to adopt contemptuous and haughty attitudes.

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  25. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald highlights the ideals of privilege, social class, and wealth in a negative light. The novel is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway, a man who does not live the extravagant lifestyle expected from the Eggs, but does not live like a typical person from the Valley of Ashes either. Fitzgerald uses Nick’s observations of both upper and lower class to contrast the two. Myrtle Wilson, Tom’s mistress, is used as an example of how wealth has an unfavorable effect on people. After being told how lovely she looks, Nick narrates, “Mrs. Wilson rejected the compliment by raising her eyebrow in disdain” (31). An appropriate response from anyone would be a thank you, but Myrtle dismisses the compliment and goes on to say that she only puts it on when she doesn’t care what she looks like. Her affair with Tom and the taste of money that comes with it causes Myrtle to act as if she is better than everyone in the room. When the conversation ends up on Myrtle’s marriage and affair, she feels the need to defend or explain herself. Myrtle says, “I married him because I thought he was a gentleman...I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe” (34). Before her affair with Tom, Myrtle believed her husband, George Wilson, was a good man, and worthy of her love. However, since Tom’s money corrupted her, she has looked down upon her husband like he cannot fully provide for her, or like he does not deserve her. Myrtle goes on to explain that he didn’t even have enough money to buy his own suit for their wedding, which made her cry. Although Myrtle believes she is apart of the upper class, Tom would disagree. Late at night, Myrtle and Tom argue about the subject: “Tom Buchanan and Mrs. Wilson stood face to face discussing in impassioned voiced whether Mrs. Wilson has any right to mention Daisy’s name” (37). Upon Myrtle’s mentioning of Daisy’s name, Tom breaks her nose with his fist. Tom does not view Myrtle the same as he does Daisy. Although he enjoys Myrtle’s company, he does not leave Daisy for her, and makes up an excuse so Myrtle does not bother him with the subject. He doesn’t even think Myrtle has the right to say Daisy’s name. Myrtle will never be viewed in the same light as Daisy because of her wealth, or lack there of, and class. Throughout the first two chapters, Fitzgerald warns the reader of the side effects of money.

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  26. To claim a high status in a crowd, people must learn the unwritten and unspoken codes of behavior. An individual’s personal experience of the struggle to belong can provide a starting point for an exploration of how concerns about wealth and other factors affect the perception of social status in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The American Dream, or wish to be upper class and wealthy, is portrayed in Fitzgerald’s novel in the setting of the West and East Eggs of Long Island. “To the wingless a more arresting phenomenon is their dissimilarity in every particular except shape and size. I lived at West Egg, the—well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them,” (Fitzgerald 23). The author uses two identical places, West and East Egg, to show that one is better than the other because it’s where the wealthy reside. The main character, Nick, is not rich, but his neighbor’s affluence reflects onto him and boosts his ego and reputation. This demonstrates the superiority and high class associated with the people who inhabit the homes on the West and East Eggs. The author uses the word “superficial” to indicate that the judgement of the two eggs is only surface level and depthless. There is no real distinctions between the two Eggs, but one is associated with prosperity and the upper-class which sets it apart from the less “fashionable” Egg. The West and East Eggs aren’t the only symbols in the novel representing social class and wealth, the relationships between characters also display the difference among the classes. During his evening at the Buchanan’s, Nick Carraway says Daisy, “looked at me with an absolute smirk on her lovely face as if she had asserted her membership in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged,” (Fitzgerald 31). Nick, a “newbie” to East Coast and New York life, is anxious to belong yet ignorant to the subtle looks of disdain. His mixed emotions are seen in this quote when Fitzgerald uses the juxtaposition of “lovely” and “smirk” in the description of Daisy. This quote correlates with with Fitzgerald’s letter because Nick is like the “poor boy in a rich town”, or “poor boy in a rich man’s club”. Nick is discriminated because of the size of his bank account and the lack of a reputation. Nick doesn’t posses a “membership” to the “distinguished secret society” that Tom and Daisy belong to, meaning no matter who he is and how hard he tries, Nick will never fit in with the upper class, wealthy, socialites of New York. However, there is a place considered to be even lower than Nick Carroway, this place is referred to as the Valley of Ashes. “About half way between West Egg and New York the motor-road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter mile or so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land,” (Fitzgerald 35). The Valley of Ashes is where the poor and lower class men reside. The hopelessness and immense poverty in The Valley of Ashes represents the idea that the American Dream is unattainable. This is also similar to Fitzgerald’s concept that you can only be born into the upper class. Even the people who work hard and make millions are looked down upon because they are “new money”, you can only retain a position of the highest class by being born into a family of “old money”.

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  27. With a life filled with opulence, great societal standing, lavish entertainment, and success in the workplace, it is human nature to believe that these individuals have fulfilled the ideal image of the American Dream and are fastened by the belts of stability and security. It is throughout the work of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby where a reader of the modern age can gaze into the portal of the era of the 1920’s, to get a glimpse of daily activities of a person in that time. One can not help to think of the substantial confidence it required to be able to excessively party, drink and consume during that time. The rich could be easily differentiated from the poor merely because they supposedly lived better lives. In The Great Gatsby, however, F. Scott Fitzgerald radiates on the disoriented, precarious and spiritually empty life of the rich.

    Fitzgerald takes a quite vast standing in his perspective of those who have more wealth than the typical individual. Due to the fact that he was “a poor boy in a rich town; a poor boy in a rich boy's school...”, Fitzgerald brings an outsider's perspective to the true inside life of a man with money. It is throughout the supposed splendid lifestyle of the rich where he taps into a life of misery. For example, a belief in the distrust of other individuals and the overall cynical sentiments of the characters, displays a lack of true confidence among them. To elaborate, Fitzgerald describes Tom as a man with that was a “sturdy straw haired man of thirty with a rather hard mount and a supercilious manner” (Fitzgerald,23). Moreover, it is through this quotation where Nick establishes Tom as one who has great confidence in himself, and is satisfied with his life to the point where he believes he is better than others. The reader sees Tom as a man who is wealthy, lives in an elaborate mansion, and has a beautiful wife and daughter. In contrast, later in the first chapter the reader discovers that Tom is having an affair with another woman. This affair reveals that there is a sense of dissatisfaction in Tom, as if what he already has is not good enough and he must find something else. Whether it might be a fault of Daisy that he feels inclined to have an affair in another woman, it is evident that Tom does have an internal conflict amongst himself where he seems to be disoriented. A man who the reader sees as arrogant and complacent is actually one who is missing a piece of himself.

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  28. In addition, Daisy is also portrayed as one one who is rather precarious in her social standing. When she describes her daughter to Nick, Daisy aspires that she will turn out to be “fool- thats the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” (Fitzgerald 30). In detail, this not only demonstrates the person that Daisy might be, but also reveals the facade among women in the 20’s. It is the elements of materialism, social status and selfishness that drove women to becoming fools, or vice versa. Might it be Fitzgerald specifically attacking women who were rich, or not, it is clear that they did lack a sense of self sufficiency, thus added to their sentiments of disillusionment amongst themselves. It is emphasized through this quotation that women were considered to be more well respected if they were simplistic, thus implying that there was not much below the surface. This not only reveals the lack of equality amongst men and women, but also the absence of spiritual/ moral fundamentals in this era. In addition, Fitzgerald used location and demographics as a symbol to distinct amongst the rich and poor. For example, the valley of ashes is a location between the West Egg and the city of New York that is a rather rural, and desolate area. The valley of ashes was intentionally placed in the story by Fitzgerald to symbolically display the moral decay of the era. The valley of ashes is described as “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens” (35). To explain, Fitzgerald describes the valley of ashes to represent the emptiness of the era, and also the spiritual perception of the cities. Although appearing to be magnificent and grandous, at the end of the day, the cities had no more significance than ashes. The people of that region did not possess any moral compass or foundation, but were simply living a life for themselves filled with selfishness and pleasure.

    It is throughout the first two chapters where it is unveiled by Fitzgerald of his perception of the rich being a poor boy, yet living in that ambiance of opulence. Although viewed from the outside as financially stable, they are not necessarily morally secure. This facade can also be implemented today towards the wealthy and lower class. Image does not display all truth of what truly occurs within.

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  29. F Scott Fitzgerald shows in many ways throughout the beginning of “The Great Gatsby” the major differentiation between the contrasting classes of the early 1900’s. Fitzgerald shows the contrast between the East and West Eggs and the Valley of Ashes. The two eggs seem to show the two different sides of wealth. The people born and raised into wealth are in the East Egg, and those who are rich, but not inherently, live in the West Egg. Fitzgerald starts by showing the West Egg, “I lived at the West Egg, the--well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between the them” (Fitzgerald 5). Fitzgerald is showing here that although the West Egg was not as fashionable as the East Egg, they still possessed the wealth that the East had but that they didn’t show it off. This is a key difference between the two eggs, although being about the same in wealth it is the looks that differentiate between the two. “His family were enormously wealthy--even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach--but now he’d left Chicago and come East in a fashion that rather took your breath away” (Fitzgerald 6). Now describing the Tom Buchanan, Fitzgerald shows how the people in the East Egg were raised with enormous privilege and monetary advantages. You can see this in the way that the people from these backgrounds act. Having been rich their entire lives, they surround themselves with things that make them happy, and create a facade, showing that no matter how great their lives seem to be on the outside, that they were hollow and fake on the inside. The Valley of Ashes is the stretch of land in between the Eggs and the city of New York. “Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up and impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight” (Fitzgerald 23). The Valley of Ashes seems somber compared to the rich people of the Eggs. Although it may seem like the people in the valley are poor, I think Fitzgerald is showing the people who have already lived the rich lives and have lost their wealth, along with their old way of living. The people from here seem to be a little slower, having lost their spark from a past of wealthy living. These people seem to want their wealth back and what they have lost. I think that the people in the valley show what will happen to the people from the East Egg after they have lost their money and that their fake lives will lead them down into a different way and realization of living. Fitzgerald shows accurately here the vast differences and the extremes of the classes created by wealth.

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