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Marxism in the Great Gatsby

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on 17 April 2013

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Transcript of Marxism in the Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 pg.26
“About half way between West Egg and New York the motor-road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”


The valley of ashes, shows how life during
that time was not all extravagant,
people like George Wilson, lived different lives.
Wilson was a very dull character, which alludes
to his living situation. The valley of ashes
symbolizes the the poor and dirty. This land is basically a dumping ground of industrial ashes. This lower-class part of Queens, illustrates the corruption that the upper-class characters inflict on society. pg.44

“In the main hall a bar with a real brass rail was set up, and stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another.” Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 pg.7
“I lived at West Egg, the well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.”


Nick, who was rich lived in an extravagant home, however his home was on the West Egg, which to the people on the East Egg was less classy place. Both the East and West people could have been equally as rich, but because the fact that the New Money was considered fake money by the Easterners, it made the West Egg less luxurious. pg.10
“We were in the same Senior Society, and while we were never intimate I always had the impression that he approved of me and wanted me to like him with some harsh, defiant wistfulness of his own.”

Nick was accepted by Tom even though he lived in the West Egg. This was due to the fact that Nick was from old money, Nick’s parents sent him across town and into college. The fact that Nick moved into the West Egg, made Tom feel more superior than Nick. Tom also welcomed Nick, because he is married to his cousin, Daisy. Daisy, like Nick, comes from a very wealthy family. pg.16
“It’s up to us who are the dominant race to watch out or these other races will have control of things.”

In 1920s, racism is still a normal thing. Tom Buchanan's racism is clear from the very beginning of the novel when he states this quote. Tom seems to manifest an supreme physical and intellectual dominance of being white. His physical appearance shows how much wealth he has, like he rule whole world. Tom's authoritarian nature averts him from being able to understand the opinions or views of others, or see anyone else as an equal. pg.29
“So Tom Buchanan and his girl and I went up together to New York—or not quite together, for Mrs. Wilson sat discreetly in another car. Tom deferred that much to the sensibilities of those East Eggers who might be on the train.


The fact that Myrtle (Mrs.Wilson) had to sit in another train car than Tom, shows that even thought she was Tom’s mistress, she still remained a girl from the valley of ashes. Tom did not want his reputation as a wealthy man tarnished by Myrtle’s standards. In a way, the separation of the train cars, shows that Tom truly did not care for her or her feelings. pg.40
“I’m going to give you this dress as soon
as I’m through with it. I’ve got to get
another one tomorrow. I’m going to make
a list of all the things I’ve got to get.”


This quote is said by Myrtle, she is pretending to be rich just because she is with Tom. She flaunts her “richness” to her friends, by professing she is of a higher class. She is too much absorbed into this role, and this is due to the fact that she comes from the valley of ashes, and is jealous of Tom and Daisy. She tells her friend, that once she is done wearing her new outfit, that since she is all high and mighty, she will donated to her, because she can always get more. Alcohol symbolizes a break from the borders of society. This becomes more obvious in the The Great Gatsby because it is set during Prohibition, the time when drinking alcohol is banned by the law. Therefore, alcohol demonstrates something that
society imposes that should not be done, but when someone does it, they're trying to gain freedom, and escape from a stifling society. Because alcohol was banned, it was extremely expensive to get, and Gatsby has it at his parties to show how wealthy he is. pg.46
“I was on my way to get roaring drunk from sheer embarrassment when Jordan Baker came out of the house and stood at the head of the marble steps, leaning a little back- ward and looking with contemptuous interest down into the garden.”

Since Nick was from the West Egg, he had formed some habits like drinking. At Daisy’s house, he was on the verge of apathy and was going to get drunk. He realized that Jordan Baker was there, and he felt that it was not the the appropriate social thing to do in the East Egg. pg.71“After that I lived like a young rajah in all the capitals of Europe—Paris, Venice, Rome—collecting jewels, chiefly rubies, hunting big game, painting a little, things for myself only, and trying to forget something very sad that had happened to me long ago.”

Gatsby, like the author of the novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, both tried to use their wealth to try and run away from their troubles. Gatsby traveled around the world, in hope that his sadness would go way. However, the phrase “money does not buy you happiness” is proven valid in this argument. No matter how much money Gatsby had, he never could find happiness no matter where he went. pg.74
“As we crossed Blackwell’s Island a limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish Negroes, two bucks and a girl. I laughed aloud as the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry.”



This novel takes place in 1920s, because of this time period, the stereotypical views of other races were still in America. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses derogatory words like “Negroes” to show the racism that still existed. Nick when he sees a white driver for black people, he immediately laughs, because it is a strange thing to see in that period. pg.97
"Oh, I’ve been in several things,’ he corrected himself. ‘I was in the drug business and then I was in the oil business. But I’m not in either one now."

This quote said by Gatsby, is the definition of new money. The people with new money received their wealth through working by themselves and not obtaining it through family generations. Fitzgerald, portrays new money people as partiers, spenders, flashy, and lacking in social class. Gatsby is a great example of this, he buys a Rolls-Royce, a lavished mansion, and throws huge parties to impress people. pg.99
“He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher—shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange with monograms of Indian blue.”

Gatsby is showing off his wealth to Daisy, to impress her. He does this to prove to her that he is no longer the poor man she once knew. In this scene, he is basically throwing is money in your face. The author chooses the fabric of silk, because in that time period and still today, silk is very expensive. Gatsby’s shirts show the new life and circumstances for Daisy. She becomes aware that she could’ve had this astonishing lifestyle with Gatsby and compares it to her life with Tom now. The shirts are representative of regret and Daisy’s past life with Gatsby. It is also clear to Daisy, that Gatsby’s style is more classier and sophisticated than Tom’s. pg.122
“Daisy and Jordan lay upon an enormous couch, like silver idols, weighing down their own white dresses against the singing breeze of the fans.”


The layout of these girls, show the sophistication of the East Egg. Girls in the West Egg are seen more as the ideal flapper girls. Flapper girls, are party girls that drink,smoke in society, and are independent. Daisy, however, does smoke, yet she is not a true flapper. She is not independent because she reliant on having a man. She does have money of her own, but relies on men to fulfill her life. Daisy’s elaborate lifestyle, shown in this quote, shows how she has magnificent statues and fancy clothing. pg.128
“I hesitated. ‘Her voice is full of money,’ he said suddenly. That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money—that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it.... High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl....”


Nick, is associated with a wealthy society, even though he disapproves of them. He finds that Daisy is beautiful but materialistic. Daisy represents the material wealth and all that comes with it, the class, beauty, and power. Gatsby realizes that Daisy has always been drawn to money, and no matter how much love exists in her, she will go for the person with money. pg.156
“However glorious might be his future as Jay Gatsby, he was at present a penniless young man without a past, and at any moment the invisible cloak of his uniform might slip from his shoulders. So he made the most of his time”

Gatsby, no matter how rich he is during his adulthood, still had a poor childhood. Due to this, his past was kept a secret and he tried his best to hide it within his wealth.”Invisible cloak of his uniform might slip from his shoulders”, this means that all the secrets of his past are a burden on his shoulders, and if he does not keep up with his lies, at any moment someone could find out his real identity and how he truly became Jay Gatsby. “So he made the most of his time”, is foreshadowing to the fact that Tom did figure it out, Tom’s revealing of Gatsby’s past, is a shock because Gatsby tried hard to keep it private. pg.168
“There was nothing in it but a small expensive dog leash made of leather and braided silver. It was apparently new.”



Wilson finds the leash, and because he finds this expensive item, he knows that only someone important would buy this for Myrtle. The discovering of the leash, not only makes Wilson to believe that Myrtle has another life, but a wealthy lover as well. The leash represents all the things in the world that Wilson can not give to Myrtle. Wilson always knew that Myrtle has another affair, however he was in denial until he finds the leash, and it is evidence of her affair. pg.184
"He come out to see me two years ago and bought me the house I live in now. Of course we was broke up when he run off from home but I see now there was a reason for it. He knew he had a big future in front of him. And ever since he made a success he was very generous with me.”

This quote is said by Gatsby’s father Mr.Gatz, he realizes that when Gatsby left his home it was to get a successful life. Mr.Gatz does not regret his son’s decision, and is truly proud of what his son has accomplished. Gatsby shows true love and care for his father, by buying him a home and providing him the money to support himself. However, they have an estranged relationship because he find out about his son’s death through the Chicago Newspaper. His father finds it best for Gatsby to be buried in New York, because Gatsby never liked the Midwest and what it has to offer. Even though Gatsby was generous and successful, his wealth did not help him achieve true friendships with anyone, except for Nick. pg.191
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made....”


Both Tom and Daisy were egotistical, they cared for no one but their money. After the whole situation with the death, they ran off with their money and begun a new life, not caring for anyone or thing. Daisy, who knew that she had killed Myrtle never came out to tell the truth, she let Gatsby take all the blame for her actions. Tom, who only wanted revenge on Gatsby allowed him to take the fall as well. Tom and Daisy are a classic case of wealthy couples who will do anything to protect themselves only. The sudden disappearance shows the openly impetuous behavior of these two.The elite living the two had led, made them incompetent of accepting responsibility for their actions. This is why Daisy was pleased to leave Gatsby in order to break away from punishment. No matter how much she loved Gatsby, she was willing to abandon it to run away from her responsibility pg.106“...small Lutheran college of St. Olaf in southern Minnesota. He stayed there two weeks, dismayed at its ferocious indifference to the drums of his destiny, to destiny itself, and despising the janitor’s work with which he was to pay his way through.”James Gatz, Gatsby before he became a wealthy person, attended college at St. Olaf’s in Minnesota, he dropped out after two weeks, loathing the humiliating janitorial work by means of which he paid his tuition. Gatsby always knew that he was not meant to be a worker, so early on he dropped what he was doing and focused on being successful, this is just like how he was dedicated to Daisy. pg.115
“A lot of these newly rich people are just big bootleggers, you know."


Tom says this quote to Nick about Gatsby, after going to his party. Though Tom has no interest in the party, his dislike for Gatsby causes him to want to keep an eye on Daisy. Gatsby’s party strikes Nick much more unfavorably this time around—he notices that even Daisy has a bad time. Tom upsets her by telling her that Gatsby’s fortune comes from bootlegging. Tom believes that anyone from new money is from a bad background and makes a living by using dirty money.This is the difference between East Egg and West Egg shows, even among the very rich there are still class distinctions. Marxism is an explanation of
social change in terms of economic factors Aeliya Syed
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