Social Class Distinctions In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” 2004 Critical Thinkings Examples

Type of paper: Critical Thinking

Topic: The Great Gatsby, Egg, People, Family, Sociology, Literature, Jay Gatsby, Novel

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/26

Societal depiction of classes and social mobility are evident in Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”. Revolving around characters that hail from different regions, the narration manages to display a distinction in social classes through the traits and living conditions of the persons. Accordingly, the narrative finds basis on the experiences of a protagonist who moves to a new area and finds himself in the company of people belonging to different positions in the social hierarchy. For this reason, the plot manages to cover all factors pertaining to the economy and its role in societies where people judge each other based on their wealth statuses. A good illustration is evident in the fact that Fitzgerald presents three distinct regions that directly portray the financial capabilities of their inhabitants. At the same time, unless the relation comes from deplorable situations, such as adultery, social mobility is non-existent in the novel. For instance, Myrtle Wilson begins an affair with Tom Buchanan as a means to a luxurious life while courtesy of his criminal activities Jay Gatsby attempts to win the love of Daisy Buchanan. The sole difference between the Buchanans and their accomplices in adulterous affairs is money; where Tom and Daisy were born into wealthy families while the others struggle to gain any riches. Thus said, this study seeks to determine the social class distinctions in “The Great Gatsby” by looking at the attributes of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan of the West Egg and East Egg region respectively.
The geographical locations in Fitzgerald’s novel already provide a distinction between the inhabitants. Taken in their literal forms, each of the separated areas represents a particular class of people defined by their financial systems and behaviors. At the bottom, there is the Valley of Ashes that holds the most impoverished of the community and omits an air of hopelessness and destituteness. After all, the area is “where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys” and because ashes are the aftermaths of destruction, the hopelessness of the regions’ occupants is palpable (26). Hence, the area represents the decay of American societies as evidenced by Myrtle Wilson, who cheats on the husband George Wilson (27) after which the man commits murder and then suicide (173). Next, there is the West Egg area that is not poor but holds traces of humility and common sense. The representative of the area is Nick Carraway the narrator who manages to interact with the people from the other two areas. At the head of the societal classes, there is the East Egg domain that encompasses people depicting wealth and disregard for anything outside their personal interests.
Social stratification is evident in how Fitzgerald portrays West Egg as being a habitat for those who have recently found riches while East Egg inhabits those whose money runs in the history of the family. He continues illustrating the difference in class by portraying the people of the West Egg as unrefined, extravagant, flamboyant, and lacking in social refinements and senses. Fitzgerald describes this through Gatsby, who apart from wearing pink, drives a huge Rolls-Royce and inhabits an offensively over elaborate mansion. In contrast, Fitzgerald describes the people of East Egg as being tasteful, graceful, and elegant and having a persona of subtleness. Fitzgerald elaborates this through the stylish house of the Buchanans’ and the immaculate dressing of Daisy.
The novel persists in enhancing the stereotypes of social stratification through these classes. While Fitzgerald portrays the people of East Egg as refined, he also shows them to be cruel and lacking kindness. The novel shows how in the end the Buchanans would rather move to a far distance place than show humility and be present at Gatsby funeral. On the other hand, Fitzgerald portrays the people of West Egg as kind, sincere and being loyal despite portraying them as unrefined and likely to engage in criminal activity. Fitzgerald shows how Gatsby remains at Daisy’s window until the wee hours of the morning to make sure that Tom does nothing to her. Additionally, he dies due to his virtues of love and loyalty while trying to protect Daisy. He readily allows himself to take the blame for the murder of Myrtle.
Gatsby’s representation of the West Egg area revolves around his economic and racial profiles, both of which determine whether the people accept him as one of their own. Based on his life story, Jay Gatsby shows that those of higher ranking will never take the people from his class and at the same time, those of lower level readily associate with his division. Fitzgerald illustrates this through the actions of East Egg, which looks down on the other people while dwellers of the Valley of Ashes readily accept all relations from the two regions. In addition, racism is apparent in the story and hinders relationships between people from different ethnic groups. In Tom Buchanan’s words, an “intermarriage between black and white” person is as a sneer at “family life and family institutions” (138). In the same manner, a West Egg dweller cannot expect to marry from East Egg because that will be against the traditional norms. After all, Gatsby and Daisy’s love never matures; a fact further cemented by Gatsby’s murder. On that note, one can safely argue that any unwarranted interaction between characters in “The Great Gatsby”, particularly those from different rankings, do not have desirable endings.
Based on his wealth, Jay Gatsby portrays West Egg people as a well-off class that has to subject themselves to undesirable methods in order to gain riches that do not guarantee their happiness. Such assertions are evident in the lavish parties that Gatsby hosts in his mansion as a bait to lure Daisy Buchanan and his illegal dealings that earn him a lot of money. Apparently, the “newly rich people are just big bootleggers” and Gatsby’s newly acquired status automatically involves him with criminal activity (115). Consequently, it is evident that wealth acquisition is impossible for those of lower class distinctions making it necessary for them to engage in deplorable activities for a reprieve. A good illustration is Gatsby’s decision to sell alcohol illegally in a bid to associate himself with East Egg and by extension, Myrtle Wilson’s adulterous affair with Tom Buchanan. Nonetheless, if Jay Gatsby’s demeanor is anything to go by, then West Egg is home to brave and proud well-off people who can stand up for themselves. The man manages to throw lavish parties every Saturday night but does not mingle with his guests who are all either in his class or of lower status. Evidently, Gatsby is rich but has his aims set in a higher social class. Clearly, because of his love for Daisy Buchanan, interactions with his guests or anybody from the other classes hold no benefits for the man. About bravery, Gatsby does not qualm under Tom Buchanan’s racist comments or his apparent threats after finding out that Daisy and Gatsby were lovers.
Daisy Buchanan’s character portrays different traits based on her gender, marriage, motherhood, and the company she keeps. The woman’s ambition for money and tendencies to favor men because of their properties is evidence of the vanity of the East Egg inhabitants. Originally, she was to marry Gatsby but instead opted to be with the wealthy Tom Buchanan. The coupling of the two is understandable if not inevitable as they were both born in wealthy families, unlike Gatsby, who became rich through illicit means. Hence, the rich will marry among themselves and at the same time thwart chances of social mobility. Nonetheless, Daisy’s womanhood places her in an unfavorable position where her husband reveals his affair to her cousin but still has the audacity to act wounded after learning about Daisy’s love for Gatsby (115).
At this point, Fitzgerald argues to the reader that the men in East Egg control social norms and are immune to any form of repercussions for their misdeeds. As evidenced by Gatsby’s murder, by the end of Nick Carraway’s tale, Tom Buchanan is still with his wife and remains unpunished for his adulterous affair. In other words, George Wilson ought to have killed Tom because his actions are the sole reason behind Myrtle’s death, and Gatsby was a victim of misguided love (154). On that note, there is another revelation of the East Egg people who are apparently ready to blame others for their mistakes, regardless of their relationship. After murdering Myrtle Wilson, Daisy Buchanan does not correct the people once they assume that Gatsby is responsible. Consequently, the novel shows that the rich people in the society residing in East Egg will readily victimize the less wealthy and use their fortunes to run away to freedom. Within the household, Daisy Buchanan does not act any different. In the same manner that she treats society with an air of aloofness, she also regards her child absentmindedly. According to Fitzgerald, Daisy does not give motherhood the attention it deserves as she neglects her daughter in favor of a luxurious life. There one particular scene in which Daisy treats her daughter as one would a trophy readied for display and showing off (124). Consequently, with the wealth comes the degradation of family institutions, in fact, it is plausible that Daisy Buchanan suffered a similar fate with her mother. Hence, family neglect is a vicious cycle in Daisy’s homeland and is too common that nobody identifies it as a problem.
Conclusively, Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan provide the perfect representations of their area because of their diverse traits that have the potential to ensure them the respect of others and disdain from some. Gatsby is a rich black man while Daisy is a wealthy woman, factors that perhaps work against their romance. As a result, it is clear that the concept of social class distinctions in “The Great Gatsby” assume different traits as per the persons to whom they apply. Consequently, wealth does not guarantee a high status the same way black skin does not warrant poverty. As the novel ends, Jay Gatsby is dead, and the Buchanans move away from their home after cutting all ties with previous friends. Taken in a literal sense, Gatsby dies because he attempts to go against the set societal norms, a fete that fails miserably because Daisy's relocation means that the man's efforts were for naught.

Work Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.

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WePapers. (2020, December, 26) Social Class Distinctions In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” 2004 Critical Thinkings Examples. Retrieved October 03, 2023, from
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Social Class Distinctions In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” 2004 Critical Thinkings Examples. Free Essay Examples - Published Dec 26, 2020. Accessed October 03, 2023.

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