Great Gatsby Essay, Research Paper
Human beings have a tendency to need some sort of tangible or perceivable proof in order to fully understand a concept. Most people will not take what is being told to them as true unless they are shown somehow that it is true. In a work of fiction, the author strives to create a tangible setting for the reader to captivate him in his reading experience. The author uses believable scenes to reveal character traits and various themes by showing how the characters act and react in different situations. This is apparent in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s greatest work, The Great Gatsby. This novel is set during the 1920’s in the New York City area. It revolves around the events and lives of a group of individual. These few people are of higher social rank. Fitzgerald takes the reader into this high society through the eyes of Nick, the narrator. His use of a first hand narrator aids him greatly in revealing the wasteful and greedy moral values of the characters and the society in which they live in his novel, The Great Gatsby.
During the 1920’s, wasteful use of money by the elite was rampant. In The Great Gatsby, there is a scene that depicts a sort of social gathering in a New York apartment. Tom and Nick, wealthy residents of the ‘Eggs’, are present. Myrtle and her sister Catherine are also present. Tom is currently having an affair with Myrtle, so she has a connection with the rich culture. Her sister Catherine, on the other hand, does not have any connection with such people. Nick, the narrator of the novel, provides us with a first hand account of the scene: “The bottle of whisky – a second one – was now in constant demand by all present, excepting Catherine who ‘felt just as good on nothing at all’” (39). This scene, depicted by a narrator who was present, reveals many details about the characters that otherwise could have not been displayed. It shows a group of people being dependent on a substance to have fun. The people participating are mainly the rich or individuals with some connection to the rich. To many, alcohol is a symbol of escape. Somebody abuses alcohol in order to run away from reality and to seclude himself from society. It seems silly that such an apparently well off group of individuals would want to escape reality. Why would they choose to run away? Something obviously has to be wrong. Fitzgerald, by using Nick as a narrator, was able to create a very believable scene. The style in which Nick describes it is totally humanly honest, which allows the reader to trust Nick. Nick tells the story just as a person thinks, adding various side observations and humor. For example, at this same party, Nick “wiped from his cheek the remains of the spot of dried lather that had worried me all the afternoon” (41). In this quote the human side of the Nick is revealed. He was bothered all day by an aquaintance’s speck of shaving cream and finally decided to wipe it off. He was “worried”, a feeling any person can relate to. The tone, setting, and feel of the scene are percieved by the reader through the eyes of another human being, creating a natural understanding between the narrator and reader. This narrative technique is used to reveal this and other aspects of Nick’s society.
Another aspect of Nick’s world that is revealed by his narration is the role money plays in people’s lives. After the party in the New York apartment, Nick finds himself at another party at Gatsby’s house. Gatsby is very well known for his flamboyant parties, and many people attend, including some uninvited guests. Here Nick describes the scene outside the house, “They were, at least, agonizingly aware of the easy money in the vicinity and convinced that it was theirs for a few words in the right key” (46). Nick is describing a scene of “…young Englishmen…all well dressed, all looking a little hungry and all talking in low earnest voices to solid and prosperous Americans” (46). This first hand observation reveals another interesting characteristic of this 1920’s society. The U.S. economy was in very good shape during this time, and this reveals it. The fact that foreign businessmen came to make some money from the prosperous Americans shows that the American people are better off than the rest of the world. There is also a hint of suspicious greed in this scene. This is a party scene, and these men only come to discuss business details. They do it at the party because that is ‘the place to be’. Almost everyone attending is of the same social status. It’s the place to make contacts and to arrange deals. People here are immersed in their wealth, and this is what they concentrate on. Nick’s description of this scene is effective in providing the necessary details, just as an ordinary person would see them. Fitzgerald was able to paint a clearer picture of the greedy faults in this elite New York society.
Nick, giving his honest and factual accounts of the scene at the New York apartment and outside of Gatsby’s house, gains the trust of the reader. His manner of description is very human and therefor easy to understand for the reader. Because people sometimes need tangable evidence to fully believe a concept, the reader is able to relate to Nick’s accounts of the events because Nick’s descriptions are as tangable as written literature can get. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s was successful in using Nick as a narrator to aid him in revealing some characteristics of the ‘Roaring 20’s’ society.