The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby discussion


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bad influences of 1930s American Dream

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Wafisofa The Great Gatsby is a great book about 1930s American society which includes many descriptions and deep thoughts about the American Dream. In this novel, Gatsby is a model for the American Dream because he is rich and famous and has a beautiful lover like Daisy.
The novel showed what bad influences were bought to people by the American Dream. Gatsby was made the scapegoat for the traffic accident caused by Daisy. She should have taken responsibility for causing the woman’s death but instead agreed to let Gatsby to take the blame. "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."(F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ch. 9)
At Gatsby’s funeral, no one seems to miss him. They made friends with Gatsby when he was rich but after he died, there was nothing else he could do for them so they just left the funeral. The author pointed out that in that period of time many people only made friends with people if they really needed their friends’ power or wealth. ” I wanted to go into the room where he lay and reassure him: "I’ll get somebody for you, Gatsby. Don’t worry. Just trust me and I’ll get somebody for you. "(F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ch. 9)

This story is a great tragedy because Gatsby had many abilities and skills. His tragic flaw is that he falls in love with the image of a woman instead of a real person. "He must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream."(F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ch. 8) Daisy seems beautiful, like in ornament, but is empty, selfish, and thoughtless. In order to serve Daisy, and win her, Gatsby destroys his own life. It is impossible to fill much sympathy for Gatsby because he is responsible for his own thoughts, feelings and actions. Gatsby is just as flawed as Daisy is.



Michael T Actually it is a book about 1920's American society


Robin Good call, Michael.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Excellent book and yes depicting the roaring 20s. Very well done and the controversy it creates every time someone mentions it shows its power and influence. Love it.


Robin Loved the book as well, and have seen different movie adaptations of this book.


Michael T I never bothered with the movies. After reading the book I found it unlikely that anyone could make a good film. The writing is a big reason why this book stands out.


Jan C Fitzgerald doesn't really translate all that well to the movies.

I've always thought, this book, in many ways, is perfection.

I read it in high school, loved it then, have read it a number of times since. It just keeps getting better.


Alexandra I never saw the films although I can assume that they are off from the book. Honestly I can see this better as a miniseries instead of a film which might be the closest to perfection on screen.


Wendy How can anyone start off a review of the roaring 20s and reference the depressed 30s? Odd.


message 10: by Sara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara Jan C wrote: "Fitzgerald doesn't really translate all that well to the movies.

I've always thought, this book, in many ways, is perfection.

I read it in high school, loved it then, have read it a number of times since. It just keeps getting better."


Ditto. The only person I can think of off the top of my head who could pull off Fitzgerald would be maybe...MAYBE...Akira Kurosawa. The dichotomies he achieved in Ikiru could definitely make Fitzgerald work.


message 11: by Angie (last edited Jan 17, 2012 07:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie Wafilsofa, I like your point of view about the book. Everyone will have a different approach to the book because no one thinks the same, but your review is good.

It's true that Gatsby saw in Daisy everything that he wasn't and didn't have, maybe he didn't really love her, maybe she was only for him a representation of the life he wanted to reach.

The Roaring Twenties are not so different from our time. We are living in a very consummerist and overcivilized society where material things are important and can "lead" us to "happiness"(think in your childhood, it became a moment when you wanted to buy trademark things), and can alterate our definition of beauty.

About the people who went to the parties but not to the funeral, those were what we can call "party friends", something that is very, very common in our society. It was so sad when Nick was in the struggle of looking everyone who knew Gatsby only to find out that they were lost in their own selfish and silly lives (one called just to get his shoes back so he could go to another party).


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

I think that the main flaw of Gatsby is not only does he fall in love with the image of a woman, but he thinks that he can repeat time-shown in the part of the book where Daisy and Gastby are reunited after five years and Gatsby knocks over the clock on Nick's mantal peice.


What I found very interesting was the differeces between East and West Egg-old money and new money.
West Egg was where the people worked for their money while in East Egg they inherited it. For me-with the way the book ends and when the reader finds out just how Gastby makes his money; I think Fitzgerald is trying to say that the American Dream during those times were corrupted and unstable. In a way it's forshadowing something we all know that happenes-The Great Depression. Deffinately some situational irony.


Penny I think "Angie" had it right.

I thought the book was about an altogether different subject than the OP describes: the inability of outsiders, like nouveau riche, to really get to the inner circle. The significance of Daisy and her husband being able to walk away from the crisis/storm was that they had something Gatsby could only hope for: a ticket in the inner banquet.

Gatsbay could buy his way as far as an "interview" but not far enough for a "job." See French film, "The Rules of the Game" (1938). A pilot has notoriety, which gets him the "darling of the week status," but when trouble erupts, the true aristocracy circles the wagon and the mere celebrity gets the shaft.

This done all from memory so sorry if I have a few facts confabulated.


Geoffrey Exactly, Penny. The American Dream was that through talent, hard work and luck one could become socially mobile and enter the "moneyed classes". But for gatsby, his riches were but a Pyrrhic victory. His efforts fall flat as soon as he is exposed as a bootlegger.


Philip Lee Too many errors in this thread! Gatsby is only rumoured as a bootlegger. His wealth comes from a bonds racket, which he offers Nick a taste of.


Matthew Williams Philip wrote: "Too many errors in this thread! Gatsby is only rumoured as a bootlegger. His wealth comes from a bonds racket, which he offers Nick a taste of."

It was strongly implied that he did both, but neither were exactly denied. Tom's research into Gatbsy's background confirmed that he was in the racket of moving grain alcohol through pharmacies.

I also want to say I think this thread is overdue. The idea of the American Dream is heavily mocked in this book. Gatsby is not in fact a wealthy individual, just a rich one. The difference is wealth is passed on from generation to generation, and those who have it don't let outsiders in. People enjoyed his entertaining and lavish side, but they never made room for him in their world.

And Geoffrey, you already said it. Gatsby believed that money could alter his fortunes and conceal his humble origins, but in the end, it made no difference. Which is what makes him a sympathetic character, sorry to disagree with you there Wafisofa. He believed in something wholeheartedly - success, hard work, betterment, and ultimately love. But it was all rendered useless because the woman he pined for was no different from the other wealthy people. She was a snob, took what she wanted, and then covered her own ass when trouble arouse.


Philip Lee Matthew

Scott was was a master of subtlety and never said anything directly if it could be implied on the QT. My reading of the bootlegging theme is that Gatsby may well have made some of his early money out of it. He was also happy for such rumours to continue, and for these to be picked up by the non-too-clever and hypocritical Tom. I don't think this "discovery" of Tom's counts as Gatsby being exposed as anything.

Regarding Prohibition itself: Though the early years, when the book is set, were relatively innocent - the Mob soon moved in. We don't associate Gatsby with violence at all - nobody is taken down into the cellar of his house and knee-capped. His main partner in crime (if their activity was technically criminal) was Meyer Wolfshiem, "the man who fixed the World's Series back in 1919" - a gambler and one who respects Gatsby's intellectual powers as "an Oggsbridge man". And the way the butler keeps interrupting Gatsby with "Philadelphia on the line" etc - clearly code words - suggests he was at the centre of an elaborate network based on information. He made his money using inside dope to play the markets. I think anything else would have been too squalid for him.

I'm sorry this thread has started with an error in the header: "bad influences of 1930s American Dream". As pointed out by Michael, we can't talk about the 1930s with "The Great Gatsby". It's a pity, as what happened from 1929 onwards was a series of reactions to the aftermath of the post war boom. I would welcome the opportunity to debate the American Dream in relation to Scott's work - but under a different header.


Geoffrey Matthew

I never suggested that G was a violent man. I did suggest that he was involved with an organized crime cartel, and as such, there`s always some violence. No Philip, I take Tom B.`s assertion that G is a bootlegger at face. G never denied it. And yes, he was dealing in stolen bonds.

I have said it before and I will say it again but I can`t see how a man who has only been in the "rackets" for less than 3 years as a sidekick to a major crimelord(woldfsheim) could have amassed enough money to affort either East or West Egg. Having given it considerable thought, perhaps G was the front man all the time. The house may have been purchased by Wolfsheim and The "Oggsbridger" was installed with the purpose of fleecing the wealthy. Should that have been the case, however, how is it that G.s fence contact did not know that Nick was not G. Wouldn`t W. have introduced G to his fences before setting G up in Egg?

I haven`t even touched F. propensity at impertinence, rampant throughout the book. What does the ending have to do with anything else in the book? He`s tacked on an ending that has nothing to do with the theme of the book. Oh right, Nick is writing the book, so we can excuse his inappropriate philosophizing.

Again, these are plot inconsistencies to my thinking. It never works out, no matter how you work it. The story is a bit implausible.


message 19: by Matthew (last edited Oct 08, 2012 11:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matthew Williams To both Geoffrey and Philip, I never said Gatsby was a violent man either. Why are we bringing up violence and such? I just challenged the notion raised by Philip that Gatsby wasn't into bootlegging but into bonds. Personally, I think too much thought is being given to what his involvement and the various ins and outs of the setup was. True, Fitzgerald was subtle, but I the felt the hints seemed pretty self-explanatory. Gatsby's involvement with Meyer constituted a racket that involved bonds, fixing major league sports and bootlegging. Where's the need for interpretation?

As for the ending, Geoffrey, are you referring to the last few lines. "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past"? Or the extended bit where he speaks of Gatsby and his belief in the "green light"? I assume the former since it's never been made clear what exactly that meant, whereas what he said about Gatsby was all about his belief in the American Dream. But as I understood it, the last line referred to how we all fight against fate, trying to push ahead while instead it tethers us to our pasts.


message 20: by Geoffrey (last edited Oct 08, 2012 07:16PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Geoffrey I have no problem with the last line, it´s the standing on the shores of the Atlantic and imagining the country at its precolonial past. Where did this come from? There has been no theme development at all on that issue.

As for the rush to orgasmic or orgiastic future, there´s an example of another impertinence. Fitzie has got many more. Do you care to read them?


message 21: by Matthew (last edited Oct 08, 2012 08:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matthew Williams Geoffrey wrote: "I have no problem with the last line, it´s the standing on the shores of the Atlantic and imagining the country at its precolonial past. Where did this come from? There has been no theme developmen..."

Yes, he was referring to the time in which the first explorers laid their ryes on the continent and began dreaming the American Dream. He is referring nostalgically to the time when it began, which is important since he's making the point that it was over for Gatsby before it even started. As for the orgasmic, etc, etc, he was talking about that hopeful future people rush towards in this dream as I recall. It's his final thoughts on everything so of course it's a diversion. It's the requiem after the death, not only of Gatsby but the Dream itself.

I don't see how this is out of place or impertinent, it's the end and Nick is reflecting on the terrible sense of loss, which in another way mirrors the loss of Americas innocence. As for the other examples, I wouldn't especially care to get into them, no. Truth is I really don't see the point in dissecting the text to this depth. No disrespect intended, it just doesn't seem like my cup of tea.


Philip Lee Without dissing the text (disrespect by over-dissection)... I thought the final thoughts of Nick as he looks out across the sound are totally in-keeping with the plot. Nick and Daisy, Tom and even Gatsby are all from the West. They are semi-wild Mid-Westerners who have come East to live in staid old New York. In that sense they are all corollaries of the first Dutch settlers (as Matthew pointed out).

Then again, what should I know, never having crossed the pond? I need to hear it from you guys that do!

Textual note: I read (in "The Far Side of Paradise") that "orgastic" was changed to "orgiastic" possibly by a typesetter.

Heck, why can't Fitzgerald show impertinence in his own novels? I mean, it's a much better way to do it than some of his party tricks. FGS he was a double Irish man, please permit him to kiss the blarney from time to time.

Point of Order: Where can we go to start that really serious and deep discussion, first of Gatsby, then of Tender... then of the fight between Callaghan and Hemingway. know what I mean? Anyone got the low-down on a good speakeasy?


Geoffrey Truth is I really don't see the point in dissecting the text to this depth. No disrespect intended, it just doesn't seem like my cup of tea. MATTHEW


Ignorance has a high price. How can you consider yourself a literary critic if you`re not willing to dissect in depth. Oh, right. You`re a fan. Now I`ve got it straight.


Geoffrey As for my edition, the explanation was that the editors redid the orgiastic bit. The question is why even use the word? It`s unlike Fitzgerald to misplace a word as he so carefully edited the book, which is plain for all to see and even commented on by Mencken in his review when the book came out.

It strikes me that he has a higher purpose in mind in using the word and this is what I object to. F.`s ideas verge on the weird and impertinent.


James Powell Nearly everything we know about Gatsby comes through Nick. Nick tells Gatsby's story to contrast him with Tom & Daisy & Jordan & the upper class. The American Dream, as understood and lived by Gatsby, is an empty illusion, a lie.

The ending is what brings the whole story into focus. The first Europeans must have been amazed at the "fresh, green breast of the new world," "face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder." But then they blew it, they squandered the opportunity, they built a culture that has at its heart a scam. We are left with the myth of the American Dream, all the striving and acquiring and for what? So that we, like Tom & Daisy, can be reckless?

Gatsby's life was devoted to striving and acquiring. Daisy was the biggest and most important representation of what he wanted. He did not engage with her as a person, but as a thing, and not even that, an idea of a thing. His drive to acquire her, like he acquired wealth, was not about love or even lust. It was all about what having her would represent to others, and to Gatsby himself.

It is a very depressing book and not the least reason is that we are still living in that same country, same culture. Our lives are all about what we own. We will destroy the environment, destroy each other, destroy ourselves, "run faster, stretch out our arms farther," to get more bigger more. And for what?


Matthew Williams Geoffrey wrote: "Truth is I really don't see the point in dissecting the text to this depth. No disrespect intended, it just doesn't seem like my cup of tea. MATTHEW


Ignorance has a high price. How can you consid..."


Uh, I never claimed to be a critic, but I still found what you just said to be pretty maligning. I take it then that if we're not willing to subject ourselves to your brand of literary criticism, we're therefore "just fans"? Wow, how unbelievably arrogant.

And you're kind of proving my point with your next statement. You're going through this with a fine tooth comb, but it seems to me that the great mysteries you claim to be raising are of your creating and the significances are ones you are imposing. Last I checked, criticism is about identifying what's there, not reshaping a work to fit your own ideas of what it is or should be.

And ask yourself this question, what "ignorance" are you dispelling? Seems to me the man who asks "why use this word here?" isn't combating anything, just engaging in pointless speculation about the tiniest nuances. But then again, that's just one "fans" opinion.


James Powell Philip wrote: "Nick and Daisy, Tom and even Gatsby are all from the West. They are semi-wild Mid-Westerners who have come East to live in staid old New York."

Fitzgerald, too. It is the opposite of the usual American east to west, civilization to frontier, movement.


Michael That west-to-east is a great point. I was just rereading the ending, which to me is the best part of the book. That they were all outsiders to the world they were aspiring to is interesting, esp given Fitzgerald's own life, and Zelda's. That Nick is returning to the Midwest, while reflecting on the wreckage of his days in New York, is one of the few hopeful notes.


Geoffrey Matthew

You still have not addessed any of the issues I have raised. If you have the better argument, give it.

If you don`t you are just sitting in the bleachers, giving your Rah, Rah.

How about actually discussing the book without the fanfare?


Geoffrey What most have neglected is that Fitzgerald has undercut his own premise that the American dream of upward mobility by creating a character whose criminal behaviour jeopàrdizes any claim to be a respectable member of the capitalist elite, or any other strata, with the exception of the criminal class.


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James Powell Geoffrey wrote: "What most have neglected is that Fitzgerald has undercut his own premise that the American dream of upward mobility by creating a character whose criminal behaviour jeopàrdizes any claim to be a re..."

I think Fitzgerald, through Nick, holds that Gatsby is superior to Tom, Daisy, Jordan, and their ilk because he is truer to his vision. Not sure that I agree with Nick, or that I'm supposed to agree, but he does say that Gatsby was better than all of them. The moral failings of Tom, Daisy, and Jordan are made clear; their respectability is shown to be a fraud.


James Powell Michael wrote: "That west-to-east is a great point. I was just rereading the ending, which to me is the best part of the book. That they were all outsiders to the world they were aspiring to is interesting, esp ..."

Most of the paragraph that ends the book was originally the end of the first chapter, when NIck sees Gatsby reaching out toward the green light.


Matthew Williams Geoffrey wrote: "Matthew

You still have not addessed any of the issues I have raised. If you have the better argument, give it.

If you don`t you are just sitting in the bleachers, giving your Rah, Rah.

How about..."


Did you not read my posts, or did you just selectively skim them? I did discuss the "points" you raised, addressed the issue of how he brought up colonial history and the use of the "orgiastic" language towards the end. I said that they seemed appropriate given the context, that it was the end of the book where a requiem seems fitting given the death of Gatsby and the larger, metaphorical death of the Dream.

However, as I've already said, I don't see the point. The use of this language and the reason for it seems pretty straightforward and obvious. So why scrutinize it or act as if there's some big mystery here? How about we dedicate ourselves to some real questions instead of over-analyzing the minutia?


Matthew Williams Geoffrey wrote: "What most have neglected is that Fitzgerald has undercut his own premise that the American dream of upward mobility by creating a character whose criminal behaviour jeopàrdizes any claim to be a re..."

I don't see how Fitzgerald could be said to be undercutting himself. It seemed like a fitting commentary on the phoniness of the American Dream, which was his point was it not? Those who possess wealth were born into it, those who acquire it do so through questionable behavior - a la Robber Barons, Carpet Baggers, Profiteers, Plantation Owners and those who got rich off of war and colonial expansion.

The only difference between men like Gatsby and those wealthy folk he wanted to join was that their ancestors committed crimes that were legal. But of course, they would never let him join, but their reasons were entirely hypocritical.


James Powell Matthew wrote: "The only difference between men like Gatsby and those wealthy folk he wanted to join was that their ancestors committed crimes that were legal."

Agree completely except I might have put scare quotes on "legal."


Geoffrey Despite the rampant jealousy of many middle class members, most men of wealth did not get their riches by deceit. They may have committed financial crimes along the way, but essentially their wealth was created legitimately.

If anyone should shake their head, let`s put it in another way. How many of you are members of the middle class. You did not cheat to get there. For many you had the advantages of an advanced education and you put it to good use, procured responsible positions in society and were responsible in performing those professional roles. But how many have cheated on their taxes, even a tiny bit. Sold a used car and never reported the gains as income to IRS? Or any other item you possessed and did not report.

Yet the assumption is that those who became rich did it by lying, cheating, thieving etc.

Take for example JFK`s father. His critics claim, and rightfully so that he was a bootlegger, with the implication that was how he garnered his millions. Sorry to disallusion Kennedy critics, but the truth could not be further. The family fortune came from Boston real estate, bootlegging was but a sideline.

So Matthew, Benjamin Franklin got rich from deceit. How about Bill Gates? We read from the history books the titans of the capitalist society, the Rockefellers, Morgans, etc. who were indeed robber barons, but what about all the texttile manufacturers, tobacco farmers, shippers, foundry industrialists? Are you painting them all with the swatch of deceit? Is this not appealing to you for your own lack of gross financial advancement? Oh yes, I never became immensely wealthy because my moral code was exemplary.

And Matthew, you never did answer what was appropriate about the use of the word "orgiastic". But then again, the point is moot, so you claim.

The novel would have served it thematic purpose more had Gatsby gone and become a merchant in woolen goods, a manufacturer of automobiles, or an inventor of a new typewriter. But instead, F. creates a character who is without one. Fie on you F. Your story does not add up, which was Mencken`s point.


message 37: by Matthew (last edited Oct 12, 2012 02:24PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matthew Williams Geoffrey wrote: "Despite the rampant jealousy of many middle class members, most men of wealth did not get their riches by deceit. They may have committed financial crimes along the way, but essentially their wealt..."

Well, that was very defensive, not to mention accusatory. I was speaking in terms of Fitzgerald's commentary in the book, not saying that all rich people are automatically crooks. What's more, I've lived a pretty comfortable life, but I've never blamed any failures on my part on the wealthy, I'm simply aware of how the "self-made man" line has been used to try and provide more opportunities for those who already have wealth at the expense of those who don't.

It has always been the first line of defense of wealthy individuals in America that they are solely responsible for their success, usually as a justification for demanding further tax cuts for the wealthy, an end to welfare and government assistance, and deregulation of the economy. But this is all too often a phony claim, made by people who were born into privilege in order to justify making their own lives even more privileged at the expense of others. And frankly, it sounds like you buy this line, seeing as how you're saying "most" men of wealth didn't cheat to get ahead.

And who said anything about the middle class? As anyone with a knowledge of post-war history knows, the growth of the middle class in this century happened as a result of reform that ensured a government presence in the economy. This included minimum wages, benefits, anti-discrimination laws, pensions, disability pay, and basic civil rights being enshrined in state charters. This is what allowed one generation to afford an education for the next, which went on to use said educations to become skilled professionals. If there was deceit there, it was individual.

And once again, I already answered your question about the use of language. Seems I'm always answering your questions before pointing out that they seem irrelevant, and you choose to focus on the latter. But if it will drop the issue, let me explain one last time. First off, the word used was "orgastic" not "orgiastic". That alone ought to correct some misconceptions you might have held. And here it is in context:

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning ——"

What's not to understand? The future in which Gatsby believed in, the achievement of that great dream after so much build up and sacrifice. It need not be interpreted in a strictly sexual sense, as many are likely to do. It can mean extremely pleasant and wonderful, which for Gatbsy it surely would be. Good enough?


message 38: by Matthew (last edited Oct 12, 2012 02:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matthew Williams As for your last point, kind of seems like your splitting hairs there. How would having Gatsby end up a successful financier been thematically consistent, beyond what Mencken thinks? Fitzgerald wrote this novel in order to express his true feelings about the "leisure class", which he was at once drawn to and resentful of because they had it great, but were also snobbish and elitist.

The only way for his critique of how this class was marked by hypocrisy was to have an honest man who did dishonest things to get ahead die because of their carelessness. Any other way, and the story is just plain boring and quite lame. Regardless of what you think of this point, that was the one he set out to make and that was what he did.


message 39: by Michael (last edited Oct 12, 2012 02:48PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Michael Jamesepowell wrote: "Most of the paragraph that ends the book was originally the end of the first chapter, when NIck sees Gatsby reaching out toward the green light."

James, I was thinking more of his recollections of travelling back to the Midwest, and his reflections on west vs east; and then his decision to head home from NY. Those last paragraphs right at the very end don't seem that wonderful to me anymore; the green light is a little too purple for me. : ) Btw, my old Scribner's edition is "orgiastic," fwiw. The boats beating back into the past.... he was reaching for a closing; it's kinda overwritten, I think. Apologies for my apostasy!

To Matthew -- not sure the leisure class figures in here anywhere. Where is one? Seemed to me the point of the ending is made when Nick thinks how he and his friends were all westerners; strivers, not the ultra-Establishment and its creme de la leisure creme. Gatsby was just a more extreme striver and a more extreme fantasizer; more extreme in his dirty actions, and more extreme in the romanticizing of his objective, purifying her into a madonna. Is that compatible with how you read this?


message 40: by Michael (last edited Oct 12, 2012 02:59PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Michael And maybe purifying her also meant purifying himself. Guess this was always bound up into the (supposed) glory of the obsession, but I'm not sure I ever articulated it to myself this simply. A redemption, or a dream of a redemption, a glimpse of one in its most glorious form, that he could never otherwise have earned.


Matthew Williams Michael wrote: "Jamesepowell wrote: "Most of the paragraph that ends the book was originally the end of the first chapter, when NIck sees Gatsby reaching out toward the green light."

James, I was thinking more of..."


The leisure class which I was referring to would be the wealthy people of East Egg who did nothing but drink and party and hurt people with their carelessness. That's what I was referring to, not sure what you thought I meant. And I'd say we largely agree on the point. Nick did identify with Gatsby clearly, in how he used the royal we to refer to himself and those who believed in the dream. But yes, Gatsby was the truest believer, in that he sacrificed and dedicated every ounce of himself towards this objective.


James Powell Geoffrey wrote: "but what about all the texttile manufacturers, tobacco farmers, shippers, foundry industrialists? Are you painting them all with the swatch of deceit? ."

Not deceit, though I'm sure there was a bit of that, too. Rather, they all engaged in the amoral activity of accumulating wealth. Go back and find out what made them rich. Tobacco farmers? Using slave labor to produce a lethal, addicting drug. Work to suppress any accurate information about the lethal nature of the product. Buy legislators. Without slaves picking cotton, would there ever have been a textile industry in the USA? How about the health of textile factory workers? How about miners? Angels don't get rich. Sure, it was all legal or maybe "legal," but that's not Fitzgerald's point or my point. They were legal but evil because they caused others to suffer just so they could accumulate wealth.

Another thing. Joseph Kennedy was never a bootlegger. It's a myth spread because a lot of people hated him and hated his sons.


James Powell Michael wrote: "The boats beating back into the past.... he was reaching for a closing; it's kinda overwritten, I think. Apologies for my apostasy!"

I share your reaction to the end of the last paragraph. When I first read it, I thought, what?



Geoffrey And frankly, it sounds like you buy this line, seeing as how you're saying "most" men of wealth didn't cheat to get ahead.

Matthew

I didn`t say that "most men wealth was not due to their cheating, but for most, they certainly cheated. And no, Fitz use to run booze off his boats in the Boston Harbor. That is not made up myth. It`s been documented and reported on a number of Kennedy biographies. My point was that his wealth was legitimate, but that some of his businesses were not. He did not amass his wealth from his bootlegging but from his real estate deals.

There is a difference in saying "most men cheated to get ahead" and "most wealth is due to the cheating of the wealthy to get ahead". I have made the point that many who have become wealthy by their individual efforts have done so by their enterprise and hard work. If along the way, they cheated occasionally to gain a few bucks, that is not to say their wealth is due to their chicanery. That is a distinction I clearly made, but you have chosen to disregard that distinction.

This is a case in point in which you have deliberately misinterpreted your reading of my prior missive. Check it again. Carefully.


Geoffrey As for your politics, I could not agree with you more. But don`t paint a swatch of color over all the super rich. For so many Kos brothers, there are a few Buffet`s and Newman`s. (By the way, the latter in his lifetime donated 85 million big ones to charitable causes)


Geoffrey Interesting how the debate rages on. I recall well two English high school teachers serving their caretaking monitor hours in the school cafeteria endlessly debating the merits of Fitzgerald versus Hemingway. I had no idea at the time which to support as I had not read Hemingway yet. For me, F. is a lightweight.


James Powell Geoffrey wrote: "Interesting how the debate rages on. I recall well two English high school teachers serving their caretaking monitor hours in the school cafeteria endlessly debating the merits of Fitzgerald versus..."

If the two had not been writing at the same time, would anyone be comparing them? And is there some reason why one has to prefer one or the other? We get both. Just like the Beatles and Stones are two different bands, Hemingway and Fitzgerald are two different writers. Different methods, different ideas, different novels. What is this war about anyway?


Philip Lee I recently read Scott Donaldson's "Hemingway Vs. Fitzgerald" - which got me thinking their real lives were actually more interesting than their stories.


Matthew Williams Geoffrey wrote: "And frankly, it sounds like you buy this line, seeing as how you're saying "most" men of wealth didn't cheat to get ahead.

Matthew

I didn`t say that "most men wealth was not due to their cheatin..."


"Despite the rampant jealousy of many middle class members, most men of wealth did not get their riches by deceit. They may have committed financial crimes along the way, but essentially their wealth was created legitimately."

That is your statement verbatim and I haven't misrepresented a thing. You said "most men of wealth", which is precisely what I claimed you said. As for your explanation thereof, not to mention what you said the first time around, that sounds like a contradiction. You say there's a distinction, but that just sounds like splitting hairs. If you cheat, if you commit crimes to get ahead along the way, then your did NOT earn your wealth legitimately, as the claim runs. It doesn't make you totally corrupt, but it does run contrary to the claim of the American Dream that says "hard work, sacrifice, and noble virtues" are all it takes.

And if you agree with "my politics", why did you chock up the idea of corrupt wealth to "rampant jealousy of the middle class"? That sounds like your blaming "class warfare" for the perceptions of the wealthy in America, which is another horse the conservative right has been beating to death for years. Saying in one breath that asking the rich to pay their taxes is hatred, but then saying that the indigent, the sick and those who rely on government assistance are lazy and deserve to be cut off.

However, that's all kind of moot because it seems we do agree since I too would argue that for every Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, there are the Bush's, the Cheney's, the Waltons and the Koch Brothers (was that who you were speaking of Kos brothers?) These are people who maintain their wealth through well-cultivated connections and crooked dealings.


James Powell Geoffrey, Matthew, and anyone else interested. I recommend that you use google to find the video of Leo Marx on Jay Gatsby and the Myth of American Origins. If you thought about The Great Gatsby enough to fuel the above discussion, I think you will find it interesting.

Leo Marx is a professor of American Cultural History at MIT.


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