Cars in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby"

Topics: Automobile, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Roaring Twenties Pages: 2 (697 words) Published: October 18, 2011
In Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, symbols are an important and integral part of what makes it a great novel. Though there are numerous and different aspects that could be explored, a repeated and often mentioned aspect are the revolutionary vehicles. Cars in the 1920s were a symbol of status and privilege as they were becoming increasingly affordable. Though most people could own a car due to Ford releasing the Model T, the colored vehicles usually a sign of wealth and status. Fitzgerald often uses the car as a symbol of death, or a journey to a destructive event, rarely is the car portrayed in a positive manner. I think that in The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald is trying to connect automobiles and vehicles to the idea of consumerism. And by relating death and destructive events with cars, I believe Fitzgerald is trying to portray his opinion on the idea of how our society at the time is heading towards an overly materialistic and consumerist culture.

The car plays a major role that makes a regular appearance in the story. In the American Society the car is always seen as a symbol of status. In the 1920's cars had just become a commodity, with the Model T by Ford Motor Company, cars became more and more mainstream. Consumerism was a popular term used to describe the American mindset at the time. It is the concept that humans equate happiness to purchasing and consuming goods. The automobile at the time was not simply an invention but a social status, the trendy thing to buy.

Gatsby’s car is an embodiment of his wealth. His car symbolizes his vulgar materialism and conveys his newborn affluence. Gatsby’s car is “a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns” obviously shows his materialism (Fitzgerald 68). Gatsby’s materialism stems from the fact that he is trying to portray the ideal...
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