Literary Modernism of American Writers of the "Lost Generation" F. Scott Fitzgerald- The Great Gatsby

Essay by kycaveHigh School, 12th gradeA, September 2008

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"I arrived in America thinking the streets were paved with gold. I learned three things; one, the streets were not paved with gold, two, the streets were not paved at all, and three, I was expected to pave them." The previous passage from an unknown Italian Immigrant greatly reflects the prominent theme underlying F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, the Great Gatsby. However, in my initial reading of the novel I did not recognise this theme and interpreted many of the symbols very literally, such as the eyes of Dr T.J Eckleburg, lacking the knowledge of the author and his writing techniques to understand or consider them in greater detail. In particular, the valley of ashes, a strange setting created by the author that lies between the glamorous houses of Long Island and New York City, I visualized as a desolate place where all hope is lost; however, the theme or symbol underneath it was not discovered until more research was completed.

This may be partly because the modernistic writing style of F. Scott Fitzgerald was something I was unfamiliar with. Another prevalent symbol in the text is the green light Gatsby is seen pondering outside his mansion, representing, on the basic level, his longing to be reunited with Daisy and to live his own American dream. This, again, was correctly interpreted, but the meaning beneath it was not recognised or explored.

In order to better understand the embedded symbols and underlying themes in the novel, particular attention has been paid to the writing style of the author. Fitzgerald was part of the Lost Generation; a group of modernist writers that sought to leave the traditions of nineteenth-century literature behind in terms of form, content and expression. Using an international perspective on cultural matters, a disruption of traditional syntax and...