Advanced US Lit B
7 April 2014
The Great Gatsby and It's Times
Nothing quite describes the roaring 20s like The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book is narrated by a man named Nick Carraway, who just moved to West Egg near New York to be in the bonds business. The story centers around his encounters with his neighbor, Mr. Gatsby, and it focuses on Gatsby's interactions with those around him as he pursues his grand dream for himself. The life Fitzgerald picks for Gatsby could be used as a description for the United States at that time and some of the events in Gatsby's life seem to correlate to political and economic events close to the same time.
Gatsby's story begins with him going off to fight in World War I where "every Allied government gave [him] a decoration" (Fitzgerald 66). When he comes home later, he is described as "so hard up he had to keep on wearing his uniform because he couldn't buy some regular clothes" (Fitzgerald 170). It is at this point that he meets Meyer Wolfsheim, the man that "raised him up out of nothing" (Fitzgerald 170). Gatsby's circumstances after the war are sound very much like the recession of 1920-1921. The economy "faltered a few steps in the recession of 1920-1921, and then sprinted forward for nearly seven years" (Kennedy, Cohen, Baily 781; Ch 31). Gatsby as a young man went through his own pinch for money at the same time, right before starting to amass his fortune. In addition to this correlation in timing, the way Gatsby goes about earning his money is very important.
At this time in American history, "organized crime had come to be one of the nations most gigantic businesses" (Kennedy,