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Slouching Toward Bethlehem & The Great Gatsby

The purpose of this research is to examine the negative portrayal of American values through F. Scott Fitzgerald's depiction of elite American society and the American dream in The Great Gatsby, with reference to similar themes elaborated by Joan Didion in selected essays in the collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem. The plan of the research will be to set forth the dominant themes in The Great Gatsby, and then to discuss ways in which Fitzgerald manipulates the narrative to engage in a critique of a segment of society with he appears to have been directly familiar, citing in the same connection social criticism by Didion that supports the view that little about mainstream American priorities and values that was current in the 1920s had shifted by the late 1960s, and that there are disturbing moral, social, and ethical implications to that fact.

The social criticism that emerges in The Great Gatsby develops in the narrative line of the character of Jay Gatsby, whose thoughts, feelings, and desires center on trying to fit into the world of high society, or more exactly the world of the object of his fondly remembered war romance, Daisy Buchanan. One could say that Gatsby, outsider in both class and profession (he appears to be a bootlegger), is a social climber, but that characterization does not do justice to the fact that he is chiefly interested in having one person visit a mansion that has become a party palace for New York society, Daisy. To be sure, as Nick Carraway discovers, Gatsby, whose roots are in the Midwestern laboring class, means to find a place among America's cosmopolitan elite, but what gives his social ambitions an edge and what positions his behavior as a primal conflict between self and society is that Daisy is a full-fledged member of the elite. Gatsby's intense desire for her makes him seek out acceptance in her circle. But of course his strategies are those of a working class naive about the difference b...

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Slouching Toward Bethlehem & The Great Gatsby. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:45, December 06, 2021, from