The Psyche Of James Gatz Essay

1458 words - 6 pages

What is a “great” man doing that makes him “great”? It could be his hair. Or maybe his smile. Maybe it is the way he smells or speaks. It might be the way handles the stresses of life, poverty or wealth, comfort or hardship. Or could it be his ideals; the way he lives his life and what morals he lives by. Greatness can be measured by what a man does. Or can it be measured by what a man does not do. The question arises. who is more great: a man who lives five years of his life to become what he feels as worthy of being loved by the love of his life; or a man who thinks himself to be a “Son of God”, who is capable of turning back the wheel of time to relive and rewrite, not only his, but the ...view middle of the document...

Gatsby stays hopeful for his dream to come to fruition. Fitzgerald means to juxtapose this attitude to that of so many of the common rabble that attend Gatsby's parties every weekend.
The life of James Gatz is not too extravagant. James tries to achieve and yearns for the unrestrained life of people like the Buchanans. As a boy, James began imagining a life for himself that was greater than what his parents could give, so he takes his life into his own hands. But without his beginning as a poor boy from a poor family, James would never grow up with the conviction that Gatsby has. James never forgets “starting out like living like the Wilsons and ending up living like the Buchanans” and what it takes to get there (Voegeli). James disowns his own parents for being “undeserving” of him as a son. When Nick asks him of his parents, Nick is left to infer that “[Gatsby's] imagination [has] never really accepted them as his parents at all” (Fitzgerald 98). James believes himself to deserve better. And he grasps and clutches to the ideal of having, living, seeming and being better than he had in North Dakota with his parents; whom, in his eyes, are beneath him.

In most scenarios, James' conviction and hope see him through, but his optimism is his greatest emotional asset. When faced with the stark reality of returning from the Great War, most men moved on to find a new lady to fancy in the years to follow. But not James. Daisy had been his and he would not be satisfied with any less than what he wanted. Even her marriage would be unable to stomp out her role in his elaborate dream. Daisy even runs down an innocent woman, and yet, James' spirit remains unwavered. Even as Daisy packs her bags, “I suppose Daisy [will] call too” is what Gatz says to ease his nerves (Fitzgerald 158). And as George fires his gun, he is still believing Daisy is calling, and “[Gatsby's] untimely death is merciful . . . Daisy's desertion would have been crippling to him.” (Murphy). James dies with his faith intact. His beloved could still be his. The five years might not have been lost like he feared. The poor fool still hoping for the return of his love.

But is James really all that great? Did he not work with Meyer Wolfsheim, a two-bit gangster, selling illegal bootlegged alcohol at speakeasies, blind pigs, and his drug stores? Does his actions not scream a self-destructive and narcissistic man? Firstly, James fully disregards Daisy's personal life for his own ideal dream. Her marriage and child mean nothing to him. Daisy has become a mirror of his “perfect” and ego-ideal image of false omnipotence. Her meaning extends further than her love. She stops being a lost love. Daisy becomes needed only for James to see how great he has become. James only grieves when “he is realizing that it has been nothing but a mirror” (Mitchell 98). And when said realization, Gatz begins to not care about anything, past of present. Only when his own dream is crushed does he do this. He loses...

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