The Great Gatsby Compared to the Wasteland

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The Great Gatsby Compared to the Wasteland

By | May 2005
Page 1 of 4
Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby and Elliot's The Wasteland are two stories that similarly express the modernist post-war disillusionment. Both stories comment pessimistically on the direction that our world is moving in from the post-war modernist perspective. Both men looked past the roaring twenties, and realized that this time period was actually a moral wasteland. The final paragraphs of The Great Gatsby sum up their mutual lack of faith in American culture to improve.

Fitzgerald uses a number of both direct and indirect ways to comment on what has happened to America. The green light is a recurring symbol in this book that has many deep meanings. Beginning in the first chapter, when Nick compares the green bulk of America rising from the ocean to the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, this symbol takes on many meanings. This is the green light that drives Gatsby, this is the green light symbolizes the new money and materialism in the world. This shows that money is now the new driving force in the world, and that people work to consume. This ties into the fact that Gatsby went to great lengths to become rich solely to impress Daisy with his wealth. Additionally, Gatsby showed off this wealth by showing her all of the shirts that he had purchased. All of this points towards the emerging consumerism in American society.

The green also seems to symbolize the automotive industry, which was one of the biggest parts of the new consumer culture. Henry Ford made a policy of paying his workers high wages, because he realized that if they were paid more, they themselves would become consumers of his products. Today, cars are often seen as a status symbol, which began back in the 1920's.

The Wasteland of Elliot's is analogous to the valley of ashes between West Egg and New York City. It is an industrial wasteland that was clearly created by large corporations and industries. This valley of ashes symbolizes the moral decay created by limitless pursuit...