He was born to a poor American farming family living in rural North Dakota. Despising the poverty-stricken life he has, he runs away and serendipitously meets his mentor, a copper tycoon, who teaches him about wealth. After the death of his mentor, he is drafted for war and when returning from war, he lands upon the Jazz Age. He comes to know various gangsters, all of whom help him succeed at bootlegging. From this illegal business, he finally acquires the riches he has always wanted. He is able to buy a 22-bedroom mansion on the West Egg of Long Island and has enough resources to fund weekly soirees. This is the rag to riches story of Jay Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Gatsby’s success story is something every individual aims to have as their own: growing up poor, and yet still able to become a self-made millionaire, or otherwise known as achieving the American Dream, regardless of the method used. This rag to riches ideal is long gone. It has been nearly a century since Gatsby’s story has been told, since the dream was even slightly achievable. Society has changed, inequality has widened, and the Gatsby era is over. The American Dream is no longer attainable in post-modern United States due to class and wealth inequality, education gaps, and the Matthew Effect.
Social stratification runs deep in America, and there are many noticeable social inequalities between lower class and upper class. Those in the upper class can afford to live very comfortable lives, whereas those in the lower class struggle to live. Professors at OpenStax College wrote a book as an introduction to sociology, and they dedicated a section to social stratification in the United States. The professors noted:
The upper class not only have power and control over their own lives,
their social status gives them power and control over others’ lives as well.
The middle class don’t generally control other strata of society, but they
do exert control over their own lives. In contrast, the lower class has little
control over their work or lives. (Social Stratification and Mobility 1)
Those in the upper class have the power to dictate the lives of those beneath them since they are usually the CEO’s of companies, and are highly influential in the economic and political sectors. They then use these connections to their advantage. The middle class can settle on having control of their own lives, which is not a bad option since they will be able to live quite comfortably. Unfortunately for the lower class, they’re the losers in every aspect, having no control whatsoever. Many people can argue this is typical for a country to function and that social stratification is not something unique to the United States to be socially stratified. However, these people do not understand how disproportionate class distribution is. The professors also took this into consideration and reported:
Many people think of the United States as a “middle-class society.” They