Gatsby And Goodbye Columbus Essay, Research Paper
Sometimes there are two novels that have the same theme, and sometimes they have the same plot, but in the case of the two novels, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the novel Goodbye Columbus, by Philip Roth they explore the same dynamics of the chase of the American dream. In both novels there are similar themes, they both use the idea of sex and money as a form of power. Both novels can relate to each other because the authors decided to show how the pursuit of the American dream may not always be a good thing, and how sex and money can cause problems in that pursuit. Overall in both of the novels the reoccurring theme of sex, money and the search for the American dream is present and in both novels the authors show that just because it may seem like someone may have everything, that is not always the case.
The idea of the new world verses the old world is a major premise in the novel Goodbye Columbus. In this novel there are two families who live very different lives. The Patimkin family, and the Klugman family. They represent the struggle between the new and old world. The Patimkin family is the wealthy middle-class family and they live in the hills, they also belong to the country club, which is a representation of having money and living the American dream. The idea of belonging to the country club is a major part of the novel. The country club gave the Patimkin?s a replica of middle class life in America. Since the Patimkin?s were Jewish they didn?t have the opportunity to belong to a regular country club, they belonged to the Jewish one, which is why it was the closest replica of the American dream to them, because they were not allowed to be part of the non-Jewish country clubs. The Patimikin?s represent the new world, they achieved higher success and they are able to identify with the non-Jewish part of middle class society a lot more then their fellow Jewish immigrants who have not fully assimilated to society.
On the other side of the coin there is the Klugman family. They represent the old world. They live in the valley with the rest of the Jewish immigrants and they live meagerly because they do not have that much and they have not gained much success in their lives while living in the United States. The two characters that represent the old and new world are Brenda Patimkin and Neil Klugman. To Neil, Brenda represents what he does not have, money and status within the Jewish community. Her family can belong to the country club and they can afford to have nice things. Brenda also represents sex to Neil therefore she represents two of the major themes of the novel, sex and money. To Neil there are many differences in the Patimkin family that make them very different from his own. They are able to eat in the dining room instead of the kitchen. They have a maid that makes the meals and cleans up after them. They also have a refrigerator full of fruit that is always full. This is all the ideal life for Neil, and when you put Brenda in the mix you have Neil?s perfect world. If he could become part of the Patimkin family he would have sex, money and in essence the American dream.
Those three ideas are also present in the novel The Great Gatsby. In this novel the two worlds are divided by old and new money, instead of the idea of assimilation to society after immigration. In this novel, where you live determines your wealth, just as it did in the novel Goodbye Columbus. In The Great Gatsby the idea of wealth representing power is the most prevalent aspect of the novel. The title character Jay Gatsby, is wealthy and he lives in the new money side of town. The love of his life is Daisy Buchannan, and she lives on the old money side of town. Their love is similar to that of Neil and Brenda. They are symbols of two different worlds, yet they find love, but in both of cases the love does not end happy. It is a sign that maybe what you think is perfect and what you think is right for you is not always the case. In The Great Gatsby the theme of sex is also a reoccurring one, many of the characters use sex as a form of power. It is easy to see that in both of the novels sex and money go hand in hand. Daisy and Gatsby don?t have the same problems that Brenda and Neil have, and they don?t have as big of a problem dealing with the different worlds as they do. Their connection is in the themes, both men see the women as sex objects and they both see them as a symbol of money. In the case of Gatsby, he does not see Daisy as a symbol of money as much as Neil sees Brenda that way, but it is only because Gatsby has his own fortune, and Neil does not. Yet Daisy is a representation of a women in the elite upper class, she has a high status in society, and she has also grown up in wealth, something Gatsby did not do. So to him she does represent something higher, just like Brenda does with Neil.
The women in both novels have a huge impact on the themes. Daisy comes from a privileged family and has always grown up in wealth, she has a high status in her community and she is always getting men to fall in love with her. She has a charm and she is a symbol of higher status in society. She is used to getting what she wants. Brenda is very similar to Daisy in the fact that she represents a higher status for women in society also. She has not always grown up in wealth, but she is not that old, and therefore she has not had that much time without it. In her household she is treated like a princess, she is given everything she wants and her father treats her like she has a high standing in society, but her society is really small in comparison to Daisy?s. She too, like Daisy is used to getting what she wants. Both women have a strong hold on the man in their lives, they represent what both men want, but will never have. Gatsby wants to have Daisy, but she is married and therefore he just lives his life wanting her, in Neil?s case he has Brenda, but not really because she is able to control every aspect of their relationship. The women in both of the novels are representations of the theme of money and power.
The theme of sex is present in both The Great Gatsby and in Goodbye Columbus. In The Great Gatsby, the novel focuses on one mans obsession with a married woman. There is also a great deal of extra marital affairs going on in the novel. Daisy?s husband is always having an affair, and for much of the novel he is having an affair with another married woman. The characters in the novel use sex as a way to gain power and they use it to also prove their power. Daisy?s husband is always having an affair to show that he can do whatever it is he wants to do. The women he is having an affair with, Myrtle is doing it to increase her status in society. When she is with Tom and when she is at their secret place in the city she feels like she is a wealthy person, something that her own husband can not give her. To each of the characters someone else represents something that they want, and they use sex as a way to gain it. Even though Neil is in love with Brenda he still sees her as a way to gain a better life for himself. While he is at her house he is always taking advantage of the fact that they have nicer things and that they always have a full refrigerator of fresh fruit. The fruit itself is exotic and represents something wealthy people have, his family can not afford to have the fruit, therefore he eats an abundant amount while he is at the Patimkins, and he even takes some and hides it in his pocket.
For all of these characters the story does not end happily. For Gatsby you find out that he is not really in love with Daisy, but the idea of her. He remembers what they had together a long time ago, and he sets his sights on having her again, but what he really wants is not Daisy herself, but the fantasy that he has created. You also find out that he is not a very admirable person, but one that has lost all sense of reality. As the story goes on he has lost touch with the real world and has moved into a world of fantasy that he has created for himself. We also come to realize that Daisy is not the picture of perfection herself. Fitzgerald spends most of the novel making Daisy out to seem innocent, pure and perfect. By the end of the novel you find out that she is not what everyone thought she was, she turns out to be a very selfish, bitter woman who is really not worthy of the attention she gets from all of the men.
In the other novel Neil had another agenda for going out with Brenda. He knew that marrying into her family would give him a higher status in life. He also loved her, but he too, like Gatsby was more in love with the idea of having Brenda then Brenda herself. By the end of the novel Neil could not stand the fact that Brenda was able to do whatever she wanted in the relationship and this caused him to overreact and force her to do something she didn?t really want to do. Brenda too had her faults, she was raised thinking she was a princess, just as Daisy thought that she was special because she had always been raised as a wealthy young girl, and both women always got what they wanted. So when Brenda was with Neil she expected him to treat her the same way her father had always treated her, and she expected to get what she wanted when she wanted it. The conflict between what each person wanted is what lead to the end of both novels. In Goodbye Columbus Neil and Brenda split after Neil realizes that he wants a way out of the relationship, so the two end up breaking up in the end. In The Great Gatsby Daisy and Gatsby never end up together, but Gatsby?s undying devotion to Daisy does end up getting him killed. This shows that the theme of sex in both novels is there to prove that it is not always the best thing to have and that it is not the foundation for a very good relationship. The theme of sex has more to do with having power, which is something that all of the characters in both novels dream about having.
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Goodbye Columbus, by Philip Roth