The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises

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Americans in the 1920s were fresh off of World War I and freshly into the Prohibition Era. The American Dream was well defined- a life of wealth, comfort, and exuberance. After a World War I victory, the Dream was thought to be in the near future for every American. The country was seen as a world superpower, wealthy after the devastation of a war fought entirely overseas and brimming with hope and possibility- at least on the surface. Despite the highs experienced by much of the country, it wasn't without its problems. Crime violence was benevolently running the streets and the Speakeasies beyond the reach of full Prohibition, the world was being set-up for The Great Depression, and America was brimming with members of the "Lost Generation." This generation and the hypocrisies and idiosyncracies of the "American Dream" inspired a rising and influential set of artists, poets and writers, and a list of best-selling books that both reflected and inspired the generation that devoured them. Authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton, Anita Loos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Sinclair Lewis were some of the popular fiction authors of the 1920s who both entertained and delighted their readers, while also offering an intelligent reality check about the limits and realities of the American Dream.

The Sun Also Rises was one of the earliest novels to encapsulate the ideas of the Lost Generation and the shortcomings of the American Dream. The novel, by Ernest Hemingway, follows Jake Barnes and a group of his friends and acquaintances as they (all Americans) live in Paris during 1924, seven years after World War I. Jake, a veteran of the United States, suffers from a malady affecting his genitalia, which (though it isn't detailed in the s...

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...masculinity to Jordan Baker.

The Great Gatsby presents the similar wasteland ideals of The Sun Also Rises. Both authors appear to have taken cues or inspiration from T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land " and depict an emptiness in the mass part of their settings. The Sun Also Rises often portrayed it's main characters lazing about and merely chatting and/or eating in Parisian cafes, signifying the lack of any real substance in their lives. Gatsby, too, features desolate wastelands in the Valley of Ashes , and even an emptiness in the lavish parties that Gatsby throws in his home in West Egg . Fitzgerald spends multiple pages listing the guests at Gatsby's parties during the course of 1922's summer. These guests carry names such as Hammerhead, Beluga, and Gulick; which indicate not only a drab feel but a lack of history, a sense of vulgarity, and a lack of real nobility.
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