Lewis Lapham

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Lewis Lapham stated that the “American faith in money easily surpasses the degrees of intensity achieved by other societies”. As time goes on, it has become apparent that “money means so much to us” but it is only paper and that in actuality it cannot bring happiness. In my opinion, Lewis Lapham’s take on the attitudes toward wealth in the United States are correct. Jay Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and the rising rate of depression that is extremely apparent amongst the adolescent population both agree with Lapham’s opinions.

In Fitzgerald’s novel the protagonist Jay Gatsby is a prestigious, affluent, man who doesn’t crave a higher sum of money, but in actuality he longs to return to his first love, Daisy. Unfortunately, Daisy has married another very wealthy gentleman, Tom Buchannan. However, Daisy did not really love Tom for himself, but for his money. Daisy confuses love for her own love of money and she cannot decide between Gatsby, who she truly loved, and Tom, who she loved for his money. Daisy believes in the American idea that “success …must be clothed in the raiment of property” which Lapham also pointed out in his novel.

While America is known for our high obesity rates, there is another extreme problem that is spreading throughout the nation that seems to get look past often, it is depression, particularly in adolescents. Interestingly enough it isn’t the poor, or middle class who are deeply depressed, but it is the children of the upper class. Money is merely a worldly luxury that we mistakenly prioritize. Studies show that in countries considered “high income” there is a higher rate of depression than there is in countries considered as “low to middle income”. Yes money can buy us that new phone or high-end dress, but it cannot buy us the emotional reassurance of happiness. Such adolescents are prime examples of Lapham idea that Americans are indeed infatuated with money, and that money is certainly not the equivalent...
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