The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby as Modernist Literature
By the end of World War I, many America authors were ready to change their ways and views on writing. Authors were tired of tradition and limitations. One of these writers was F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was a participant in the wild parties with bootleg liquor, but he was also a critic of this time. His book, The Great Gatsby is an excellent example of modernist literature, through its use of implied themes and fragmented storyline.
The Great Gatsby is a book about Jay Gatsbys quest for Daisy Buchanan. During the book, Jay tries numerous times at his best to grasp his dream of being with Daisy. The narrator of the book Nick Carraway finds himself in a pool of corruption and material wealth. Near the end, Nick finally realizes that what he is involved in isnt the lifestyle that he thought it was previously, and he tries to correct his mistake.
The theme of illusion versus reality is implied throughout the book. Fitzgerald once wrote, Thats the whole burden of this novel the loss of those illusions that give such color to the world so that you dont care whether things are true or false as long as they partake of the magical glory.(xv) For instance, Gatsbys obsession with Daisy masks the harsh reality that it was never going to happen. Gatsby even realizes that his illusion is greater than reality when he kisses her, and forever wed[s] his unutterable visions to her perishable breath.(117) Gatsby seems to know that his idea and pursuit of Daisy is more rewarding than the actual attainment of her.
Another theme that is used is the American dream. Gatsby himself is a believer in the American dream of self-made success. During the book, we learn that he had created himself out of nothing, that his whole life is merely fiction. Gatsby remained fully committed to his dream of being socially accepted to the end. Therefore he never comprehends that his strive for success and social acceptance led him to his deathbed. That is why Gatsby is a prime example of the American dream.
Similarly, the theme of faulty vision is prevalent in the book. Wealth, material possessions, and power are the core values of the American dream. Gatsby did achieve the American dream but his idealistic faiths in money and lifes possibilities twisted his dreams and life into worthless existence based on falsehoods. Throughout the book we see that many of the characters see only the things that they want to. Therefore hiding the existence of true reality. For instance, George Wilson had no clue that his wife was cheating on him with Tom Buchanan. George thought that everything was just fine, until he started putting things together. When he did, he shot himself and Jay Gatsby. So we see that reality is only what we make it out to be. George finally figured that out in the end.
In addition, Fitzgerald shows how the morals of society have been destroyed. The different characters each through their actions betray their morals to achieve a different status in society. Myrtle, a middle class, married woman, becomes immoral by having an affair in an attempt to join an upper social class. Jay Gatsby, a wealthy young man who has earned his wealth through breaking the law as an effort to win back a lost love. And finally Daisy, a woman who marries a man only because of his enormous wealth instead of a poorer man she truly loves. In the end, giving up their morals is useless; they each fail at achieving the status they desire.
Another reason why this book qualifies as Modernist literature is the use of chronological order. In particular, the read learns new information about the characters throughout the book. To illustrate, Jay Gatsby is a prime example. We learn that James Gatz that was really his name. He had changed it at the age of 17 and at the specific moment that witnessed the beginning of his career.(104) The book [also] uses some 450 time-words, including 87 appearances of time.(xv) Likewise, the novel starts with In my younger and more vulnerable years.(1), and ends with borne back ceaselessly into the