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Is The Great Gatsby an exact portrayal of the 1920's?

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Radusa Raveendran

on 25 July 2015

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Transcript of Is The Great Gatsby an exact portrayal of the 1920's?

The Great Gatsby
an accurate portrayal of the 1920s?

Social Division: Racism

Jay Gatsby's lavish parties illustrate the culture of the 1920s by the distribution of alcohol, jazz music, and the way people associate with one another.
"Hello, Wilson, old man,” said Tom, slapping him jovially on the shoulder. “How’s business?”

“I can’t complain,” answered Wilson unconvincingly. “When are you going to sell me that car?”

“Next week; I’ve got my man working on it now.”

“Works pretty slow, don’t he?”

“No, he doesn’t,” said Tom coldly. “And if you feel that way about it, maybe I’d better sell it somewhere else after all.”

“I don’t mean that,” explained Wilson quickly. (Fitzgerald 26)
strangers attended Gatsby's parties; no rules
Gatsby provides his guests with an excessive amount of alcohol
people are heavy drinkers-> enjoy themselves and rebel against prohibition
guests are outgoing, spontaneous, and daring
they like to gossip - rumors being spread about Gatsby
compares moths to the guests, suggesting a sense of obliviousness that they manifest
Racism was top form of division.
Slavery was outlawed in 1865.
Discrimination and inequality still exist in the early 1900's.
Tom expresses discrimination and inequality

“It is up to us, who are the dominat race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.” (Fitzgerald 19)
Gatsby's Parties
Change in Women's Appearance & Behavior
Certain trends among women arose which relate to the events that took place during the 1920s.
This time is when the white race was superior
Tom has physical and intellectual power
Makes other feel subordinate.
results in him being the dominat race
Valley of Ashes represent the poor, poverty and hopelessness.
East and West Egg represent the rich and the ongoing division in society
East Egg is Old money
West Egg is New money
“The sister, Catherine, was a slender, worldly girl of about thirty, with a solid, sticky bob of red hair, and a complexion powdered milky white. Her eyebrows had been plucked and then drawn on again at a more rakish angle, but the efforts of nature toward the restoration of the old alignment gave a blurred air to her face" (Fitzgerald 49) - Nick
Catherine portrays the
stereotypical flapper
cream or ivory face powder became a popular use of makeup among women as it would enhance their skin
thin, dark and downward sloping eyebrows also became a popular feature
"the bob" was a prominent hairstyle in 1920s and symbolized the rebellious change against societal norms
behaviour: sexual, flirtatious, spirited, risk takers

Catherine tries flirting with Nick
Myrtle is described by Nick as having great "vitality"
Valley of Ashes is
a long stretch of desolate land which is created by the dumping of industrial ashes between west egg and New York.
East Egg is the side where people inherit their money lives and West egg is the side where people earn their money.
Eggs vs. Valley of Ashes
rich look down on poor
Tom looks down on George
George is being deceived
Tom threatens his business
The Valley of ashes
by Radusa, Fatima, and Hayley
The "Jazz Age
Conveyance of things by stealth to evade customs, duties, or import or export restrictions.
East Egg
West Egg
An illicit liquor store or nightclub.
Illicitly distilled or smuggled liquor.
Homemade-often poorly made-gin. General term for cheap homemade booze.
An illegal drinking establishment, a.k.a. a speakeasy, that attempted to evade police detection by charging patrons a fee to gaze upon some sort of exotic creature (i.e. a blind pig) and be given a complimentary cocktail upon entrance.
Jazz music influenced people's emotions and the setting of the 1920s
it's style suggested romance and excitement, and provoked intimate dancing
played by orchestras at large events such as Gatsby's parties
attracted many people because it perfectly set the mood of the time
played in speakeasies -> jazz music was considered immoral or illegal
Jazz bands and orchestras grew in popularity in the 1920s as it became the entertainment of the time.
"There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars. At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his motor-boats slid the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam" (Fitzgerald 63)

“At the request of Mr. Gatsby we are going to play for you Mr. Vladimir Tostoff’s latest work (Jazz History of the World), which attracted so much attention at Carnegie Hall last May. If you read the papers, you know there was a big sensation" (Fitzgerald 79) - orchestra leader
The End
Thank you!
Prohibition in the 1920's ended the legal sale, production, and distribution of liquor

There was a demand for an illicit supply

Hundreds of illegal drinking spots started popping up in cities all over America called speakeasies

Quote:"I found out what your 'drug-stores' were." He turned to us and spoke rapidly. "He
and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores here and in Chicago and
sold grain alcohol over the counter. That's one of his little stunts. I picked him for a
bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn't far wrong." (Fitzgerald, Ch. 7) - Tom

• The whole plot is intimately tied to the prohibition of alcohol accomplished by the18th Amendment to the Constitution.

• Many aspects of the plot are driven by the black market that developed in the 1920s

• Illegal producers known as moonshiners sold their illegal product to illegal distributors known as bootleggers, who in turn sold it to speakeasies; demonstrated by the mysterious phone calls Gatsby received

Cotton Club: The Cotton Club, pictured, was a famous jazz music night club located in Harlem, New York City, and operated from 1923 to 1940

• Gatsby and Wolfsheim ran a chain of speakeasies, and later sold 'medical alcohol' in drug-stores

• Grain alcohol, which Wolfsheim and Gatsby sold in their drug-stores, was very popular in the 1920s
-The Roaring 20's was a time of great criminal activity
- Alcohol was in high demand, making it an easy (but risky) business
- Organized crime that supplied people with booze
- Gangsters ran the distribution, production, and sale of bootleg alcohol
- The main headliners of the prohibition era were criminals
like Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, and John Dillinger

Quote #7:"I think he hardly knew what he was saying, for when I asked him what business he was in he answered, "That's my affair," before he realized that it wasn't the appropriate reply
(Fitzgerald, Ch.5) - Nick

Gatsby had earned his wealth through bootlegging

Wolfsheim's character represents the notorious gangsters of the 1920s

Doctors could prescribe “medical liquor” for their patients for dozens of ailments, including alcoholism. Gatsby sees this as an opportunity and establishes a chain of drugstores with the help of organized crime and corrupt politicians.

Drug stores that were able to legally acquire and sell alcohol sold their products to speakeasies. This was happening with Gatsby’s drug stores, which also accounted for his enormous fortune.

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