Climbing the Social Ladder

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Over the centuries, several social barriers have fallen away. In the 1920’s, some of those barriers were just beginning to crumble. Women were given the right to vote and some people were able to become wealthy based on their skills and ideas and not solely on their background. Even though these obstacles were starting to fade, completely defeating social barriers was still a struggle. Jay Gatsby’s final dream, in The Great Gatsby, is to overcome the class barriers and marry Daisy Buchanan. He is able to gain wealth, but he does not gain entry into her social class. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald shows the problematic nature of class structure in America during the 1920’s through Jay Gatsby’s struggle to ascend the social ladder. In the 1920’s class structure was changing and people had to adopt to a new way of life. According to Cynthia Rose, editor of "A New Era … an Economic Revolution of the Profoundest Character.", it was an era of optimism for many people who were able to secure good paying jobs because of the booming economy (Rose). However, there was a divide in the upper class between the people with “old money” and those with “new money”. The people with “old money” had grown up with wealth. The newly rich had to adjust to the upper class. Actors, people involved in the media, and bootleggers are all examples of the types of people who belonged to this class. In the novel, the two social classes also have very different ways they spend their time. Many of the newly rich have large parties, while those with old money are more conserved, like the Buchanans (Fitzgerald 10). New industries presented unprecedented opportunities for an emerging class. It was a new era for Americans. People were becoming rich overnig... ... middle of paper ... ...as set up to be. Works Cited “A New Era … an Economic Revolution of the Profoundest Character.” American Decades Primary Sources. Ed. Cynthia Rose. Vol. 3: 1920-1929. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 126-131. U.S. History in Context. Web. 4 Mar. 2014. “Automobiles.” American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 2: 1910-1919. Detroit: Gale, 2001. U.S. History in Context. Web. 4 Mar. 2014. “Brokers and Suckers.” American Decades Primary Sources. Ed. Cynthia Rose. Vol. 3: 1920-1929. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 131-135. U.S. History in Context. Web. 4 Mar. 2014. Fitzgerald, F. Scott, and Matthew J. Bruccoli. The Great Gatsby. New York: Collier, 1992. Print. Reilly, Hugh. “The Media in the 1920's.” Personal interview. 5 Mar. 2014. “The Right to Vote.” Civil Rights in America: 1500 to the present. Ed. Jay A. Sigler. Detroit: Gale, 1998. U.S. History in Context. Web. 5 Mar. 2014.
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