By creating his own identity, Gatsby was a self made man. He became what he wanted to be, and achieved this by himself. He succeeded in changing the course of his life; being born into poverty, he forged his way to wealth and prosperity. It seems like creating one’s own identity is a wonderful thing, however at what cost does this new identity come?
Although one can change one’s lot in life by moving to better locations, this comes at the cost of cutting the ties with one’s roots. When Gatsby left North Dakota, he not only cut his ties with the land that he lived on, but also with all the people and places with which he identified himself when he was a child. When leaving home, he not only left the house he lived in, but he abandoned his mother and father and family members. He cut his ties with his neighbors and his town. For Gatsby, none of these ties were important because he believed that he could create his own identity independent of his relationships with others. Since he did not rely on others for any bearings for his identity, it becomes completely subjective and dependent solely upon his own whims and fancies. This identity thus, has no relation to reality.
What then does it mean to have one’s identity rooted in reality? To live in reality means to live in relationship to others -- to be dependent upon others and for others to depend upon oneself. It is only an imaginary dream world in which one is totally self-sufficient and in need of no help from others. This can be seen at one of the most basic levels of human existence: a man does not bring about his own existence without being dependent upon his father and mother. Likewise, when a child grows up he is dependent upon his family and those in the larger social community. In adult life this dependance upon others does not cease. When one tries to be completely disconnected and independent of others, one digs a death trap for oneself. This person will eventually face his own...
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