Sula and the Great Gatsby

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The American Dream: Is Betterment Worth It?

Through the years, the inhabitants of America have been mobile people. The Native Americans moved according to the seasons and the migration of animals; the first Spanish settlers moved to find gold; the European colonists moved for land; and in the past weeks, Southerners have been moving to escape tragedy. Although these four major diasporas seem to have individual reasons, all four share one common root: the American Dream - an urge to improve a given lifestyle by making a drastic change. In their respective books, The Great Gatsby and Sula, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Toni Morrison display this phenomenon by creating characters that will do anything to better their personal lives; however, both writers incorporate great failure into the lives of their main characters, thus dismissing the idealistic thoughts of the American Dream. From a young age, James Gatz has plans to change his social status; he plans his days hour by hour; forfeits his given name for a new one; deserts his home, family and friends; and most importantly picks up a job as a bootlegger to make his desired sum of money. The schedule taken from an old book of James' shows his plan for an entire day and includes a list of "GENERAL RESOLVES (Fitzgerald, 173)," both of which show a general urge for success. James' resolve to, ‘save $3.00 per week (Fitzgerald, 173), displays an early understanding of the American dream and the necessity of money. His further understanding of the way life works is expressed through the action of changing his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby, a name that seems to flow easier and deserve a greater deal of respect than his previous, harsh name of James Gatz. His new name, in essence, opens up a new life for Gatsby, and allows him to start over the way he wants to. Gatsby's next choice, to abandon his home, family, and friends in order to sail aboard a yacht for years with a near stranger, displays Gatsby's belief...
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