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Fitzgerald, Carraway, Gatsby: A Reflection of the 1920s

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Marina Pei

on 22 January 2014

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Transcript of Fitzgerald, Carraway, Gatsby: A Reflection of the 1920s

- Period of economic growth following WWI
- United States established themselves as the richest country in the world
- Growth in construction
- Consumption and production of consumer goods takes off
- Prohibition
- Lowered moral and social values
- Pursuit of wealth in the flourishing economy
The Roaring
Twenties

- Flappers
- Chin length, bobbed haircuts
- Shorter skirts/dresses
- Heavier use of makeup
Fashion
Music
- “Jazz Age”
- Developed mainly by African Americans
- Widespread radio broadcasts spread Jazz to the masses
- Especially popular with
the younger generation
- Urbanization
- Skyscrapers
- In New York: Empire State Building, Chrysler Building
Architecture
-Born in St. Paul Minnesota
-Lived in a wealthy neighborhood, but was a social pariah because he wasn't rich
-First love: Ginevra King
-Dropped out of Princeton to join the army

-Fell in love with Zelda Sayre
-Published
This Side of Paradise
: start of his fame, marries Zelda
-Lives an extravagant lifestyle, Fitzgeralds became iconic of the Jazz Age
-Lived in Great Neck, inspiration for Eggs
-Travel to France
-Extreme debt: causes insanity for Zelda, alcoholism for Fitzgerald
-Fitzgerald dies of a heart attack: December 21, 1940
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Nick Carraway
- From Minnesota
- Grew up in a family of “prominent, well-to-do people” (7)
- Well off but not extremely wealthy like Tom or Daisy
- Family made their money in the wholesale hardware business
- Educated at Yale
- Considers himself to be a “well-rounded man”(9)
- Fought in WWI
- Upon his return he moved East to learn the bond business in New York
Background
- “... inclined to reserve all judgements”(5)
- Refers to himself as “one of the few honest people [he has] ever known”(64)
- Ironic as he does judge the people he meets throughout the novel.
- Gatsby represents what makes Nick feel “unaffected scorn” (6)
- Daisy and Tom are classified as “careless people” (187)
- Jordan Baker is “incurably dishonest” (63)
Character
- Both come from the middle west
- Has a very cynical view of the amoral lifestyle of Eastern America in the 1920’s
- Opinions and observations are representative of Fitzgerald’s in many circumstances.
- Lived in New York surrounded by the “new rich” in more moderate houses; in the “consoling proximity of millionaires.” (10)
- Ends up leaving New York after being temporarily exposed to the lifestyle of the wealthy.
Similarities to Fitzgerald
Jay Gatsby
Background
-born with the name James Gatz into a poor Midwestern family
-believes he is destined for a greater life (exhibited by his childhood agenda)
-travelled and learned from the wealthy Dan Cody
-fought in WW1
-attended Oxford, but dropped out
-fell in love with Daisy Buchanan while stationed in her hometown in the South
-not wealthy or high class enough for Daisy
-he pursued her like “the following of a grail” (142)
-becomes involved in criminal activity in order to earn the wealth he desires
-lives in the “new money” neighborhood
Character
“His heart beat faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable
breath, his mind would never romp
again like the mind of God...At
his lips’ touch she
blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.” (107)
-romantic idealist, enhanced by Fitzgerald’s poetic and lyrical diction and style
-believes in self-improvement
-believes he can repeat the past
-believes in the American Dream, that he can achieve success despite his background
-innocent character despite dishonest career
-mysterious, secretive character (developed through third person point of view)
-died believing himself a failure, because he didn’t achieve his ideals
-obsessed with Ginevra King= Gatsby and Daisy
-dropped out of a prestigious university
-falls in love with Zelda while at a training camp
in the South
-parents didn’t live up to his ideals
-In his early life, was hopeful about the future like Gatsby
-believed in self-improvement like Gatsby
-death unintentionally resembles Gatsby’s
Autobiographical Elements
Fitzgerald, Carraway, Gatsby: A Reflection of the 1920s
Discussion
Do you think Gatsby or Nick is more like Fitzgerald?

What qualities do you admire in Gatsby? In Nick?

Why do you think Fitzgerald split his personality and life into two different characters in The Great Gatsby? Why not have just one?
Discussion
What aspects of the 1920s resemble our time?

Would you rather live in 2014, or the 1920s? Why?

Fitzgerald documented, with detail and accuracy, the time period in which he lived. Many historians use his works as historical reference. In our time, we document our lives through social media. Do you think that our posts and tweets will be the subject of historical reference in the future?
Discussion
From Fitzgerald's brief biography, what elements of
The Great Gatsby
do you think are autobiographical?

Is Fitzgerald's novel hypocritical of his own lifestyle?
Conclusion
In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald filters autobiographical elements into the characters of Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway. These characters reveal Fitzgerald's lifestyle as well as criticisms of the Roaring Twenties. Through Nick we see Fitzgerald's cynicism and disgust for the Jazz Age and through Gatsby, we see Fitzgerald's idealist point of view, that ultimately causes suffering.
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