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Strained Self-images in Lewis’s "Babbitt" and Fitzgerald’s "The Great Gatsby"

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Expressing quite eloquently, a man named Tarkan Tevetoglu once said, “We need to know ourselves better so that we can realize what we really want in our life. I think that the first condition for a person to be in a successful relationship is to be happy with the person he or she is, in other words to love themselves.” This same endeavor for self-happiness also occurs in literature as characters struggle to shape relationships with others because of their own negative self-image. In Lewis’s Babbitt and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, both Babbitt and Gatsby face these strained self-images while struggling to create relationships. Babbitt creates a relationship with Paul, although Paul lives a more bohemian life than Babbitt. Gatsby creates a relationship with Nick, although Nick lives a more modest life than Gatsby.
In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby cannot find a positive self-image because his self-image is based on Daisy’s ideal perceptions. Gatsby struggles to even find a self image. These struggles are reflected in Gatsby’s infatuation with meaningless objects and inevitably create a strained relationship with Nick Carraway.
Everything Daisy desires: money, parties or shirts, Gatsby feels the need to provide for her. The belief he and Daisy are irrevocably in love, leads him to do anything to win her affection, including the complete reshaping of his life. Because of his devotion to her, he has extravagant parties every Saturday night in an attempt to impress her. “There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams - not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion...


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... a violinist; however, certain events prevented him from becoming one and instead left him miserable in his existence. Thus, Babbitt and Paul are trapped together in their miserable existences, unhappy and unable to pursue any desires.
With the words of Tarkan Tevetoglu in mind, Babbitt and Gatsby both struggle to induce strong relationships because of their negative self-images. They cannot find a positive one because of their dislike of their current living situations. Because they cannot know themselves, they cannot realize what they want in their lives. Their endeavors for a better life, only lead them to further unhappiness.
















Works Cited
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Singnet Classics, 1996. Print.

Lewis, Sinclair. Babbitt. New York and Toronto: The New American Library, Inc., 1922. . Print


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