The Great Gatsby
There have been several novels over the course of American history that have been considered an American classic, and The Great Gatsby is one of them. What is the book about? Does the book reflect the times?
The Great Gatsby opens up around an imaginary town on Long Island. The book is narrated by Nick Carraway, who unknowingly steps into a disaster that is just waiting to happen. He discovers that the husband of his beautiful cousin, Daisy Buchannon, is having an affair and that the reclusive millionaire, Jay Gatsby, is in love with Daisy. Nick tries to stay out of the drama about him but Gatsby soon elicits his aid in trying to win Daisy’s affections. Tom, Daisy’s husband, is outraged when he assumes Daisy and Jay are lovers, despite his own infidelity. Being sent away, Nick, Daisy and Jay are driving down the road when the car hits a body. The body turns out to be Myrtle, Tom’s mistress, and even though Daisy was driving Gatsby takes the blame. Daisy returns to her husband, knowing it is to him her loyalty belongs. George, Myrtle’s husband, thinks that Gatsby was his wife’s lover and so goes to the millionaire’s house to shoot Jay and then himself. Nick moves to the Midwest, completely disillusioned with the shining lights of the East.
While the book mainly revolves around Gatsby, it does show the era of the 1920s. The idealism, the resistance to change and decadence that made up that time period are very clear. The social upheaval and excess, for instance the lavish parties Gatsby throws trying to impress Daisy with his wealth. By most, the book has been viewed as a warning to those who pursue the American dream, that how much better a person’s life might be by being content with what he or she has and to know when cease reaching for things beyond one’s grasp.
Therefore, The Great Gatsby is a classic not only because of the main story it tells but also because of the underlining messages throughout the story. The unhappiness of the rich who have everything and yet still want more, being hypocritical of others but not censuring themselves. Spending money to distract themselves from the world’s real problems and making petty arguments among themselves, ignoring their fellow man. This was the mindset of those recovering from the First World War and who raised the next generation that went into the Second World War.