Quantity over Quality
The Great Gatsby is a short novel written by Scott Fitzgerald. It is set in the 1920’s, and like Fitzgerald, the novel is fervently identified with the Jazz age. The Jazz age was a time of self- indulgence squeezed between World War I and the Great Depression. The theme throughout the novel is recognized as the prestigious “American Dream” which holds a strong and honored place in American history. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses Gatsby’s parties, the valley of ashes, and love to show that the ideals of the American dream are deteriorating.
In the West Egg, Gatsby threw huge and extravagant parties hoping one day the love of his life, Daisy from East Egg, would come strolling through the door. Fitzgerald satirizes these parties in order to create a larger picture about the “roaring twenties” (Slater 54). The large parties were a place that was teeming with contradictions displayed. These huge parties were contained with people who were never officially invited and stayed until they were kicked out. The people who showed up were all examples of moral corruption and cared for nothing but the material of goods. People came, trashed Gatsby’s home and then left. The guest treated each other as if they were disposable, just like the money they spent so vigorously. This is the complete opposite of what the American Dream is supposed to be, people were just partying their lives away. Fitzgerald deliberately contributed to the God-like image of Gatsby by withholding him from the novel, which surrounds him with a mythical aura. Rumors would spread about Gatsby because no one has actually seen him." 'I'll tell you a family secret . . . . he used to be the silver polisher . . . in New York that had a silver service for two hundred people. He had to polish it . . . until finally it began to affect his nose' ” (Fitzgerald 14). This implies that the party-goers are all phonies. Some believed Gatsby was a double spy from the war, others thought he had killed a man, while others believed he was the lord of criminals that dealt with bootleg liquor (Pearson 640). Everyone came and enthusiastically said hello to one another when in reality, Gatsby cannot possibly know every one of his guests (Baker 214). When people go to parties, it is usually to arrive in respect of a particular individual. The social joint turned out to be one of the most isolating experiences. The guests did not actually know each other; they were all individuals who knew each other through gossip and innuendo. The 1920’s were not a time where people withdrew to celebrate in the happiness of other people’s companionship; they used that excuse to withdraw further into themselves without knowing their own nature (Fraser 560).
The Valley of Ashes reveals how the American dream had been warped into something very dark. The valley of ashes is a mid-way stopping point between West Egg and New York City. The desolate area of land is a representation...