Money in the Great Gatsby

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Money and The Great Gatsby

Though the Great Gatsby is only nine chapters long, F. Scott Fitzgerald was able to convey many messages in this short book. The most recurring and powerful message was one dealing with money. In the roaring 1920’s when The Great Gatsby took place, how you obtained your money was very important and determined who you acquainted yourself with. It basically came down to the fact that there were two classes of people, those who were born with money and those who had to make their fortunes by working for it. These two classes clashed, for those who were born with money felt superior to those who were not. The chosen few who were born into wealth felt it was their obligation to keep the classes divided. Though one may “play” with the lesser fortunate classes, one did not stay for long or allow a lesser class into the circle that was the old rich. Fitzgerald’s intended message was centered around this division between new money and old money. Before the 1920’s, the idea of making one’s own money was considered crude. Those who were born into money were the ones who were admired and respected. But the 1920’s were a time of change and with a booming economy came new ways of making one’s own money. Jay Gatsby personified this “new rich” while Daisy and Tom Buchanan personified the old rich.

This theme of old money versus new money can be found in the setting itself. The story takes place in Long Island which Fitzgerald describes as having two egg- like islands separated by the bay. These islands are known as the East Egg and the West Egg. The East Egg is comprised of the old- monied, aristocratic families in their luxurious mansions, while the West Egg is made up of the “nouveau riche” in their gaudy ostentatious mansions. This physical divide symbolizes the apparent division of the classes.

As stated, The Great Gatsby is made up of two classes. These classes are the old rich, which is represented by Daisy and Tom Buchanan, and the new...
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