May 19, 2008
The Green Light
America is thought to be the land of dreams and most believe that if you can think of it, then you will be able to achieve it. It is the traditional view of America, it is the reason people from all over the world travel here with just the clothes on their backs, and it is because they want to live out the “rags to riches” dream. This is a wonderful outlook on life just because it compels people to strive for more, want more, and accomplish more before their demise. This ambition is what has made so many things possible, like the automobile, the assembly line, and numerous other things that sustain America. However, not everything is possible and there are some social boundaries that few, if any, will ever be able to cross, and these simple limits can destroy lives. Although most consider love and the American dream to be untouchable by these ridiculous limits, F. Scott Fitzgerald proves this inaccurate, in The Great Gatsby , with the affair of Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. When reading The Great Gatsby it is natural to assume that Gatsby will be the most miraculous human being on earth. Only because in the first chapter Nick says that “Only Gatsby…was exempt from my reaction….If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life.”(2) This description makes him sound like a saint, as if he should be a part of the catholic religion. He talks about Gatsby as if he is what every American needs to be like. Then, in chapter three, this saint like perception is shattered when Nick ventures over to one of Gatsby’s extravagant parties, because as soon as he gets there, he hears guests’ talking in hushed tones about Gatsby’s supposed past, one man says that he killed a man(53). Sadly, this ridiculous claim cannot be nullified because no one knows for sure if he really has. Gatsby is a known name at the parties, but most of the guests have no clue as to how he became so wealthy, they do not care, they continue to eat and drink the refreshments he has provided. Even though no one knows him personally, they all still try to solve the mystery that is Jay Gatsby, this desire to know his history leads to wild accusations, and in the end does nothing but widen the black hole. At the center of this mystery sits Daisy Buchanan, she is the motivation for all of Gatsby’s actions. Nevertheless, he is skilled in keeping this a secret, when he asks guests about her he takes them into a private room and then works Daisy into the conversation somehow. This shows how important it is to him, but he refuses to be up front about it because it could jeopardize his back-story, so he does it this way to maintain his “past”. That is until he speaks with Jordan Baker at one of his parties (63), up to that point he knew nothing of Daisy’s current emotional state so he could not attempt to rekindle their five-year-old relationship. With this new revelation about her being Nick’s cousin, and her shaky relationship with Tom, he decides that he is going to try to be with Daisy once again. The problem is that he has not evaluated all of the issues that could stand in the way of their relationship. Gatsby does not lack wealth he lacks breeding, or at least the proper breeding for the upper class. However, he does have qualities that some undesirable people prefer. People like Meyer Wolfshiem, who fixed the 1919 World Series (88), with questionable morals and business ethics are enthralled when they first meet Gatsby. Wolfshiem tells Nick that after just an hour of speaking with Gatsby he knew that he was a man of fine breeding (87). Nevertheless, this is a criminal speaking about Gatsby and he has a very different version of what fine breeding is than the upper class. This difference is very evident at his parties. Gatsby’s...