Comparative Commentary "Of Mice and Men" - "The Great Gatsby"

Topics: Of Mice and Men, Great Depression, John Steinbeck Pages: 11 (4554 words) Published: July 2, 2012
Comparative writing: “The Great Gatsby” and “Of Mice and Men”

Although this two works were written ten years apart, they both depict opposite realities. “The Great Gatsby” deals with the reality of the high society, their joyful lives and their never ending parties. While “Of Mice and Men”, narrates the struggle for living of the migrant workers, their misfortunes and poor lives. Nevertheless, behind these completely different realities, there are some aspects in which these two books can conceal several correspondences. To start with, it is requisite to analyze the context in which these two novels were written, since this contributes to develop the themes and tone of each work. “The Great Gatsby”, published in 1925, was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. He grew up during the “roaring twenties”, a time of social, artistic and cultural dynamism, of incessant partying and alcohol. American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the 1920’s as the economy soared. At the same time, prohibition made millionaires out of bootleggers and led to an increase in organized crime. Fitzgerald was part of the “Lost Generation”, a group of young people who came out of World War I disillusioned and cynical about the world. His writing generally expressed the resentment towards the materialism and individualism that permeated during this era. Although Fitzgerald venerated the riches and glamour of the age, he was uncomfortable with the lack of morality that went with it. On the other hand, “Of Mice and Men” was written by John Steinbeck and first published in 1937. The author went to Stanford but he never got a degree. Despite his background he worked as a farm laborer during the twenty’s. Most of his stories are situated in California, his place of birth. During the 1930’s, he started working on a series of novels that portrayed the lives of the lower classes during this period. Steinbeck lived in the time of the world’s greatest economic crisis, which had a significant influence on his writing. Throughout these years, America was undergoing a time of unparalleled economic depression which affected mostly the farming industry. Social marginality and tension between workers and owners was evidently. Wages were at its lowest range, and poor people got even poorer. It was a time full of migrant workers which lived in a subsistence level economy. The Great Depression was the antithesis of what once was a period of prosperity. The differences in the authors’ backgrounds and lives, made it possible for both to create diverse types of texts. Even though both works belong to the narrative writing, we can state that their genre is completely dissimilar. Fitzgerald chose to write a modernist novel. This term can be applied to the period after World War One. Novels of this kind depict the decay in human morality and the idea of the “lack of center”. Moreover, modernist writing portrays a pessimistic picture of a culture in disarray. An important characteristic of these novels is the limited first person narrator, which we see in Nick Carraway. This character usually takes part in the conflict and plays both; the role of an insider and an outsider. In this way, the narration becomes subjective and unreliable, as the reader can only see through Nick’s eyes. Apart from this, the narrator in a modernist novel presents an internal monologue. In the case of “The Great Gatsby”, it helps the reader to understand Nick’s thoughts towards particular situations. Furthermore, people can be able to indentify how the narrator has changed during the story, making him a dynamic character. There are several passages in which Nick stops and reflects on the meaning of the action, interpreting the events. On the contrary, Steinbeck decided to change the standards of writing, creating a different type of work. We can define his book as a play novelette. This is a shorter type of novel, however the author wrote it in a way that can be played on a...
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