Sunday, December 9, 2012
The Great Gatsby In Relation To Present Day America
'The Great Gatsby' was written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, and takes place in the Spring of 1922, over a period of two months. Today, it is seen as a 'Great American Novel', and 'The Modern Library' named it the second best English-language novel of the twentieth century.
In relation to today, 'The Great Gatsby' has many features that can still be relevant today. For example; racism is a huge factor in the novel. Tom Buchanan (Daisy's husband) has evidential racist opinions 'it's up to us [white people], who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things' (Page 17). This suggests that Tom is very racist, and not only that, is very
power orientated, and wants to have the dominant authority. This is shown on Page 10; 'among various physical accomplishments, had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven - a national figure in a way'. The statement suggests how Tom views his own social status, which is also potrayed as an important factor in someones life due to the author also mentioning this point. In relation to the quote about racism; this corelates to present day America, as racism is still ambivalently questioned in America, with people suggesting they feel that due to circumstances like the re-election of Obama; that racism has ceased in the US. Nonetheless, there has also been proof that racism is still a huge issue in America, with the RT poll (2012) finding that 51% of American's express racist attitudes, which is an increase from 42% in 2008, when the US elected it's first American President (http://rt.com/usa/news/majority-americans-racist-poll-378/). The poll also finds how 'white people' stereotype black people, which is potentially what Tom is doing. Furthermore, Nick (the author) expresses racist attitudes; 'a limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish Negroes, two bucks and a girl. I laughed aloud as the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry' (page 55). The terms that Nick uses are degrading, he doesn't even categorise the different genders using 'lady or gentleman' which he would of done if they were white. Also, Nick suggests that he 'laughed aloud', as if it's funny that black people can ever believe they can compete with the white race, due to his acknowledgment of a 'white chauffeur'. The implication that Nick believes the characters are the wrong way round as both characters cannot see behind the ethnicity. However, in that era, racism was rife and was hard to escape, even with protesters like Martin Luther King. In today's current era, moreover, racism revolves more around generations learning from older family members to be racist and I believe also a problem with dominance, due to the rise of racist feelings after Obama's first election in 2008.
Another issue that 'The Great Gatsby' tackles is how the 'roaring twenties' contrived of a materialistic culture, shown through the parties that Gatsby throws and the relationshipa of the characters. This is shown through Daisy and Tom's marriage, Daisy chose an empty relationship with Tom instead of spending the rest of her life with Gatsby, who she truly loves. Her relationship does show other readers how money cannot just make you happy; 'She [Daisy] never loved you [Tom], do you hear', he cried. 'She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake, but in her heart she never loved anyone except me!' (Page 137). This shows shows how although Daisy loved Gatsby, she was willing so sacrifice her love to be in a relationship just for the money, which made her unhappy but happy at the same time (lack of love but she had materialistic objects). In the novel, Gatsby tries to entice Daisy by throwing huge parties, which suggests that even Gatsby realised that the only way to get what he wants is to flaunt his cash. This can relate to today due to the overwhelming culture of brands in America; for example, products like the Applie ipad are seen as a trend, in which many people want to endorse, just to be part of a generation with the same materialistic items. Furthermore, consumerism in America is what people today categorise the US with; restaurantes such as McDonalds are now a global franchise and brands such as Microsoft, Nike, Disney, Google and Amazon are all founded in America; yet is known world wide.