One of the most significant events that occurred in the 1920’s was the Prohibition, which banned the consumption and selling of alcohol in America. During this iconic decade, many authors wrote novels that vividly depicted how life was during the Prohibition. Novels such as The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Killers, by Ernest Hemingway, use symbolism throughout the story to portray the Prohibition.
The use of symbolism that Fitzgerald uses to represent The Prohibition shows his understanding and familiarity with the topic. The Prohibition is used as a way to symbolize Gatsby’s wealth. In chapter 5, we see Gatsby attempting to persuade Nick into joining his business. “I thought you didn't, if you'll pardon my--you see, I carry on a
little business on the side, a sort of sideline, you understand…." (Fitzgerald83). Gatsby uses the words “business on the side” to signify that he sells alcohol on the side. This is statement is supported when the reader finds out that Gatsby and Wolfshiem opened up numerous drug stores together and made a profit by selling alcohol “under the table,” This is where all of Gatsby's wealth comes from, which enabled him to throw the parties, in which the consumption of alcoholic beverages was attainable. Though, that is not the only place in the novel where Fitzgerald makes a connection with the Prohibition. “ ‘He’s a bootlegger’ Said one of the young ladies, moving somewhere between the cocktails.” (Fitzgerald61) This statement, said in chapter 4, signifies that Gatsby is, in fact, a bootlegger, if this was not true, then where did he attain these alcoholic beverages, in which the ladies seem to pass by? These rhetorical devices, used by Fitzgerald, make the readers dig deep into the text and find the significance of what each passage is saying.
Besides Fitzgerald, Hemingway also uses symbolism to portray the prohibition. When Hemingway wrote The Killers in 1926, the United States was at the height of the...
Cited: Avey, Tori. "The Great Gatsby, Prohibition, and Fitzgerald." PBS. 14 May 2013. PBS. 20 Sept. 2013 .
Fitzgerald, F. Scott, and Matthew J. Bruccoli. The great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 1996.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Killers. Scribner, 1927.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Killers Plot Analysis" Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, I nc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 25 Sep. 2013. < http://www.shmoop.com/killers- hemingway/plot-analysis.html>
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