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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby And John Steinbeck’s Grapes Of Wrath

1196 words - 5 pages

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath are superb models of individual and settings’ contrasting elements. Each novel is respectively set in different decades and both serve as foils of another. In regards to the “American Dream,’’ Great Gatsby and Grapes of Wrath are examples of two separate, yet similar paths of this vision; Gatsby is the respective “Promised land” and contrastingly, Grapes is “hell on earth.”
The Great Gatsby, filled with its accomplished, ostentatious, and scintillating characters, is the beacon and example of the achievement of the American Dream and the “Roaring 20s”. In the carefree fantasy world of the Buchanans and Gatsby, everything is beautiful, clean, and the availability of any material item is limitless. In particular, the Buchanans are especially haughty and even supercilious in manner. They, like every other denizen of the prestigious Egg sections of Long Island, live a secluded grandiose life. The striking contrast and caveat to this is that the family did not have to work for their own wealth. They are part of the ‘old money’ of the nation and their attitudes, especially Tom’s, are reflective of their lack of intercultural awareness and their secret society mindset. When Tom makes the statement, "Civilization's going to pieces. The idea is if we don't look out the white race will be--will be utterly submerged (by niggers). It's up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things” (Ch 1) it is clear evidence of the small-minded bigoted nature of supposedly sophisticated elite. This quotation also gives insight into the mindset of many Americans in regards towards beliefs about the adduced racial and ethnic superiority of WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) in qua of Social Darwinism and Eugenics teachings during the early 20th century.
Different from the Buchanans and old money elitists, Jay Gatsby himself is a Midwestern, self-made, illegal alcoholic bootlegger whom has accomplished the American Dream. Gatsby lives near the Buchanans and is flamboyant in lifestyle himself. He hosts numerous soirees and has “so many fine beautiful silk coats,” along with other luxurious materialism-related items. Gatsby, along with his newfound acquaintance/neighbor Nick, are foils to the extravagant and narrow-minded elites in Great Gatsby. However, Gatsby himself is in a trance throughout the story. This trance is one of never ending pursuit of his one, true, ultimate, yet unattainable dream of marrying Daisy. From his resulting doom, Nick realizes that the New York way of life is not one of true and wholesome fulfillment, and although he strived for the American Dream on the east coast, he realizes that himself and the now dead Gatsby “perhaps possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life” (Ch 9). Since he was wise and real enough of a person to comprehend his unhappy predicament, Nick...

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