The book by Scot Fitzgerald is hailed as a criticism on the period of materialism during the post-war America when people seemed to pursue relaxation and individual satisfaction. It was a time when alcohol was controlled, and through this, a plot was begun: a bootlegger becoming rich in the person of Jay Gatsby.
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It is the narration of Nick Carraway, he left New York for his hometown to leave a life that he pursued once full of ambition and desire, done in flashback manner.
In New York, he met various individuals, some previously known, others new friends, to etch his own part of the scenery and economic growth. Many find the similarities of the main character’s story with that of Fitzgerald himself (Gale, 1998), and still, the novel was considered as one of America’s best.
The Great Gatsby is the story of materialism, its pursuit, symbolism on those who posses it at different stages of life, and how the majority (Americans or not) may decline morally in its lure.
Infidelities, too, abound in the noble. There’s the blatant Tom with his racism and dogmatic snobbery, Nick himself involved in an affair with nowhere to go, then, Jay Gatsby and Tom’s wife Daisy.
By playing cupid, story-teller Nick was the bridge to Jay and Daisy’s affair. In Chapter 7 when curiosity about Gatsby is at its peak, he stopped throwing his Saturday night parties as the sole purpose of the parties were to get Daisy’s attention. And when Daisy finally started to see Jay, the parties became useless and had to be stopped.
Nick became suspicious when the revelry have ceased and went to visit Gatsby to make sure that Gatsby was not sick. Gatsby has started to protect his identity and has become conscious on what people would think or perceive about him, most specifically Daisy who has had an affair with him.
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On a hot summer day, Daisy invites Gatsby, Nick, and Jordan to lunch. Here, Daisy showed her guests her baby daughter and Gatsby realized, half unbelieving, that Daisy is already a mother. In this instance, Tom was his usual snooty self.
But during the meal, Tom felt and noticed that Gatsby and his wife are having an affair as Gatsby looked intently with passion at Daisy. Anther reckless remark of Daisy confirmed Gatsby’s suspicion.
Tom became desperate in this instance and challenged the the entire party to drive into New York testing on Gatsby and his wife Daisy together in one car, while Nick, Jordan, and Tom drive in Gatsby’s own car.
Some technical deux machina were placed on these portions as the main characters cross paths in unexpected ways. Tom on the way to New York angrily admits he had been researching about Gatsby and found out he was a bootlegger. And that Gatsby was no Oxford man. They stop for gas at Wilson’s garage and it so happened that Wilson was the un-ambitious and almost inutile husband of Myrtle, Tom’s illicit lover. Wilson informs them that he decided to move his wife out west after learning about her illicit affair. However, Wilson was not aware he was already talking to the lover of his wife. Myrtle also saw the group and mistaken Jordan as Tom’s wife, seething with jealousy.
Tom felt at this instance that he is losing both his wife and mistress. He grew panicked and impatient and their group takes a suite at the Plaza Hotel to escape the heat. At the Hotel, Tom confronts Gatsby deriding him as pretentious and accusing him of never having been at Oxford. Gatsby replied that he studied there for five months after the end of the war. Even as a loser, Tom made sure to mock and belittle his fellows by blatantly charging that the affair of his wife to lower-class Gatsby is a harbinger of the decline of civilization. Tom added with insulting message about intermarriage between the races.
Gatsby challenged that Daisy no longer love Tom and that she never loved him. Gatsby lets Tom know that he was the one who is going to take of Daisy. Then, Tom called Gatsby a “common swindler” and said that he has made his fortune in bootlegging. The shallow Daisy sided with Tom and refused Gatsby even when he pleaded her to say what he knew was truth: that she did not love her husband.
In the valley of ashes, Nick, Jordan and Tom find out about the automobile accident that killed Myrtle Wilson. Apparently, she ran out into the road during a fight with her husband and was soon struck by a yellow car. The car was Gatsby’s.
All throughout the story, infidelity and materialism was as natural as the actors in it who seem to revel on hedonism: of what the flesh desires and feeding it to the brim. Such was the lavish parties of the mysterious Jay Gatsby, sought by mysterious rich folks of the Jazz age.
Gatsby and Daisy were former schoolmates, and their reunion was a rekindling of Gatsby’s desire on Daisy. At this point, he was both restrained to stop showing off, yet unrestrained to start a relationship as he desired, and neither was she so that an affair seemed normal. People at that time did what they want as may be the effect of the World War I. It was a time of peace and plenitude as the US president nailed the equal rights of every individual to pursue a life which he deemed best for himself (Pidgeon, 2008).
As they start seeing each other, Gatsby changed into a more reserved person although he has maintained an air of mystery from the start. Daisy, however, despite her upbringing, was quite vulgar and did not care to keep her affairs secret. In closer scrutiny, she belonged to her husband, who was a coward, an insecure bigot. While she was nobody but a materialistic consumer, a woman hedonist who gets all what was presented and more, if possible. She is as selfish as her husband, as uncaring and as undecided.
Tom is an egotist, so full of himself, and so was she. Made perfect for each other, they both failed to see what a heart of gold was amidst the materialism that lay before them. The irony on Tom’s part was his unfailing stupidity and paranoia about his elitism. In fact, Tom was much more concerned that his wife dealt with a lower class rather than she cheating on their marriage.
While it is sad to note the overall theme of the triumph of superficiality in the book, it cannot be avoided to consider the efforts and the finality of the death of Gatsby: an affair has ended, and Tom and Daisy’s life went back to normal where illicit affairs were ended.
All major characters were linked by Nick, of which he also have undone them through his advice and role playing no matter how much he has despised the kind of lives they live. The story is flawed in a sense that the major characters need to meet necessarily to bring out a plot that was quite thick as one kills another without suspicion and guilt, or just too much of it.
This, however, does not erase the fact that couples had affairs, even facing one another in gatherings, and that they acted as if materialism was everything. It jibed well with the infidelity of the characters: to their lawful or legal lovers as well as openly making relationships with their so-called own circle of friends. Amidst these are flawed personalities that showed the relevance of cleaning up one’s conviction, even through a 360 degree turn.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1925) The Great Gatsby.
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Gale, Robert L. (1998). An F. Scott Fitzgerald Encyclopedia. Estport Connecticut: greenwood Press.