Title:The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons
Copyright Date: April 10, 1925
1. What is the primary theme of this book? What is the basic message the author is trying to convey?
1) Fitzgerald portrays the 1920s as an era of decayed social and moral values, evidenced in its overarching cynicism, greed, and empty pursuit of pleasure. The reckless jubilance that led to decadent parties and wild jazz music—epitomized in The Great Gatsby by the opulent parties that Gatsby throws every Saturday night—resulted ultimately in the corruption of the American dream, as the unrestrained desire for money and pleasure surpassed more noble goals. In this book, Nick compares the green bulk of America rising from the ocean to the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. Just as Americans have given America meaning through their dreams for their own lives, Gatsby instills Daisy with a kind of idealized perfection that she neither deserves nor possesses. Gatsby’s dream is ruined by the unworthiness of its object, just as the American dream in the 1920s is ruined by the unworthiness of its object—money and pleasure. Like 1920s Americans in general, fruitlessly seeking a bygone era in which their dreams had value, Gatsby longs to re-create a vanished past—his time in Louisville with Daisy—but is incapable of doing so. When his dream crumbles, all that is left for Gatsby to do is die; all Nick can do is move back to Minnesota, where American values have not decayed.
2) I think that Fitzgerald is speaking to the basic idea that the time period of the 1920s was doomed to failure in the manner it cultivated relationships between people. Fitzgerald understood "the Jazz Age" as one where people used others as means to ends as opposed to ends in of themselves. So many characters "use" people for their own self-interest in Fitzgerald's work that it becomes almost...