The focus of this text is to inform Princeton review readers about the text "The Great Gatsby" (F. Scott Fitzgerald's, 1926) and discuss representation in the context of the novel. This is a worthy topic of understanding and discussion because the book stereotypes rich people as being racist, sexist and indifferent towards the poor in the 1920's. In order to prove this point there will be an explanation of how rich people in the novel are obscenely chauvinistic and careless. Then evidence will be provided of what middle class people think of rich people. There will also be a brief investigation on the background of Francis Scott Fitzgerald's life.
"Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 24 1896" (Bruccoli, M, 2003). He was a catholic raised child both his parents were Catholics, "During 1911-1913 he attended the Newman School, a Catholic prep school in New Jersey" (Bruccoli, M, 2003).
At this school he met a man named "Father Sigourney Fay, who encouraged his ambitions for personal distinction and achievement" (Bruccoli, M, 2003). Fitzgerald was in the Princeton class of 1917. Fitzgerald's Mother was very wealthy. She "became wealthy as a wholesale grocer in St. Paul." (Bruccoli, M, 2003) He got engaged to his wife Zelda in 1919 He began to write the text The Great Gatsby in 1923. He believed this was the book that would lead him to literary acclamation. It was published in 1925 and received excellent reviews. The text became a Hollywood film and a Broadway play a year after it was published, it was not a very popular book when it was first released though, it sold less then twenty five thousand copies during Fitzgerald's lifetime. As you can see Fitzgerald was not exactly a poor man he never seemed to have problems with money. This proves he grew up in the perfect background to write the text.
Cultural backgrounds and social groups have a great effect on an individual's psyche and values throughout their life. The general reason the upper class is labeled as arrogant is because they've been raised in a community they are the dominant social group, a community ruled by white males, convinced by there parents and elders that there is no race superior to the Caucasian. This is the typical understanding of the 1920s. An example of this is when Tom says to Nick "Have you read a book called rise of the coloured empires by this man Goddard? It's a fine book everybody ought to read it. The idea is that if we don't look out for the white race we will be utterly submerged". (The Great Gatsby, 1990, pg 18,) This here displays how Tom is a racist. It shows that he has little care for anybody who is different in skin colour and he believes they are all fighting for the social position that the white people have. This therefore proves that rich people show little tolerance or empathy toward other races. Rich People are also uncaring towards women. Women are used like toys and are thrown back and forth. The most perfect example in the book is Tom Buchannan. Tom has cheated on his wife a number of times and he does it obviously as well when Miss Baker states "I thought everybody new Toms got a women in New York" (TGG, 20). Tom is in fact so disrespectful of his wife that at one point he physically assaults his mistress because she is mentioning Daisy's name. Tom's mistress is the wife of a poor man who works at a gas station. This proves that people of great wealth disrespect women and even there own wives and that woman will do almost anything to be with a rich man and will be blinded by the obvious truth.
Nick Carraway is the greatest example of a middle class person in the text. Nick is "a young man from Minnesota, Nick travels to New York in 1922 to learn the bond business. He lives in the West Egg district of Long Island, next door to Gatsby."(Phillips, B, 2006,) As any middle class person would he attempts to stay on the good side of all the rich people. He dines with Tom and Daisy and while remaining on the good side of Tom he becomes a true friend of Jay Gatsby. He learns that he dislikes rich people like Tom and Daisy he starts to believes they "are careless people, they smash up things and creatures and then retreat back into their money or their vast carelessness... and let other people clean up the mess they had made"(TGG, 170). Further more he says aloud to Gatsby "They're a rotten crowd you're worth the whole damn bunch put together" In this statement he is referring to rich people in general. This therefore proves that Middleclass people like Nick dislike rich people and base them off a typical stereotype. Gatsby is the exception; however this is because Gatsby has middleclass roots and identifies with Nick.
Both rich and middle class people are different. Rich people like Tom have been built up with a background where everything has gone there way and there parents have given them just about anything thieved wanted, Where as people like Nick have had to work to even gain the slight respect that rich people can offer them. Women receive next to non respect as wealthy men throw them round. Men will cheat on there own wives with the wives of less wealthy men. The only thing that matters for wealthy men is beauty and that's what they seem to get.
Bibliography'The Great Gatsby' written by Bellmore-Merrick Central High School [online]Accsed on the 22nd March, 2008http://www.bellmore-merrick.k12.ny.us/grgatsb.html