Professor S. Simon
Introduction to Fiction
The Distortion of the American Dreams
The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who is perhaps one of the most recognized authors associated with the literary flowering of the 1920’s in America. The concern of most authors during this time was of the materialism that had suddenly swept the country. Credit was easy, interest rates were low, and corruption abounded. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald portrays how the American dream of success was extinguished until it was nothing more than greedy desire. The sanguine American dream that had turned no one away and had given all an equal opportunity for happiness and success was no longer. Through use of his main character, Jay Gatsby, and through various symbols in the novel, Fitzgerald develops his sketch of the downfall of American society. Jay Gatsby is Fitzgerald’s embodiment of the American dream of rags to riches. Gatsby began life as the son of poor farmers living on the shores of Lake Superior. Early in his youth Gatsby “knew he had a big future in front of him”. He later changed his name from James Gatz to the more fashionable sounding Jay Gatsby. The narrator of The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway, is astounded by Gatsby’s ambition. “There was something gorgeous about him… it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is likely I shall never find again”. Gatsby was determined to attain his goal and self-disciplined Gatsby was as a young dreamer. He wanted to change the world by being the one who would invent a “needed invention”. Young Gatz was bound to make it big. He had what it took: the brains, the will power, the looks, and the ambition. However Gatsby’s intentions were the purest when he was a young boy, by the time he was grown man he had already made it in the world, his story of success is quite different from that which his dreams foretold....