Conflicting Perspective in The Great Gatsby

Better Essays
The 1920s prove to be an era that brought around some of the greatest influences and some of the greatest controversies. In the 1920s, there began to be a schism in the beliefs of prohibition, personal freedoms, and class separation. Traditionalist believed that people were running ramped drink and being promiscuous. Modernists were out to seek personal freedoms, such drinking, sexual experimental, women coming out of their stereotypical roles of being reserved and prude. Classes divided because some people had inherited wealth and other had work hard to earn their money. In The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, these controversies that divided the generations of the 1920s included prohibition, and the right to personal freedoms and compares and contrast new money versus old money and modernism versus traditionalism.

In The Great Gatsby, there is social dividing line that separates the aristocracy and those who are “would be” aristocracy. That diving is visible as well as invisible. It is visible in the form of “West-Egg” and “East-Egg”, which are areas of Manhattan that are divided between the people with New Money, West-Egg, and the people have had money for generations, East-Egg. People of the east look down on the people of the west as gaudy in every aspect, their homes are over elaborate, as describe by the narrator Nick Carraway. “My own house was an eye – sore, but it was a small eye-sore and it had been overlooked” (9-10 Fitzgerald). But the homes of east were not described in such as way they were “the white palaces of fashionable East – Egg” (10 Fitzgerald). Thus dividing in such a way that was as visible as the sound that ran between them.

A more invisible dividing line was the snobbish way that Tom Buchanan treated everyone. He dismissed his own wife at times, to go and be with his mistress, whom he treated like property. Tom, one day on the way into New York, forces Nick off the train into the Valley of the Ashes, to go and retrieve his mistress. Demandingly Tom says to Myrtle “I want to see you… Get on the next train” (30 Fitzgerald). And that was that no contestation, Nick stood there almost dumbfounded, and the arrogance of Tom was very apparent. This was a display that drew an invisible in between the people of East

In 1920 the 18th amendment came into effect, outlawing and banding the sale, ma...

... middle of paper ...

...en and women about sexual dangers of sexual activity and the value of “social purity”(Henretta 651). The thought was that the more people knew about the risks of their personal freedoms that they might choose to take a more traditionalist approach to the choices. But the modernist of their era continued their promiscuity and even created some birth controls, which was aided by Margaret Sanger. People continued to do what they please and then prohibition was repealed by the 21st amendment.

The 1920s brought to society the things people may have felt but could not due to social constraints. Prohibition allowed people to go out and find the alcohol, since it could not be found elsewhere. Personal freedoms such as drink and sexual experimentation were expressed in full force of the modernists. There was a very aristocratic approach to the way people viewed and treated other people, there was much class segregation. That segregation was due to new money versus old money and traditionalism versus modernism. The twenties was a “roaring” era full of new ideas, gadgets, gismos, consumer items, drinking, sex, and fast-paced times. An era that has shaped the way the United States is today.
Get Access