Class Conflict in the Great Gatsby

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The main, reoccurring theme in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, is the theme of society and class. Three separate social classes are portrayed in the novel: “old money,” “new money,” and the lowest class known as “no money.” The “old money” class refers to those who come from families that have fortunes. “New money” families are those who made their money in the Roaring Twenties and often lavishly display their wealth. In the novel, the growing tension between the “old” and the “new” money classes are shown through Gatsby and Tom’s struggle over Daisy. The novel’s narrator, Nick Carraway, begins the novel by sharing advice his father gave him when he was younger: do not criticize others because “all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that [he has] had” (1). Nick’s father informs his son that his advantage over most people in the world is that he comes the “old money” class. Unlike the people around him, Nick casts himself as a nonjudgmental character with regard to social class, which is opposed to others during this time period. In this period, the Roaring Twenties, members of “new money” enjoyed the pleasures of easy money, ample drinking, and sumptuous parties; and while his fellows pranced from party to party every night, he would not become involved in their inane manners. Nick “lived at West Egg – well, the less fashionable of the two” (5) which is located directly across the bay from East Egg. Throughout the novel, Nick observes how greatly the two communities differ. Their location, across the water from one another, symbolically shows the class rivalry because they literally opposed each other. West Egg is where the “new money” echelon lives, and East Egg does not accept them because they have neither cultural refinement nor social connections. Nick’s character is odd because he spans both worlds; he comes from “old money” but rents a house in West Egg, where the “new money” class resides. Within the novel, Fitzgerald...
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