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The work of Fitzgerald is the product of the "Jazz" era, a time when all gods had been declared dead, all wars fought, and all faiths in men had been shaken. Fitzgerald's style is a combination of American idealism and nihilistic pessimism. In The Great Gatsby, whose originally proposed title was 'Among the Ash-Heaps and Millionaires,' we also find a narrator and style that make moral judgements through the narrator Nick, a constant overseeing moral vision that is symbolized by the ever-watchful "eyes" of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg. Despite the glittering appearances and material ostentation of West Egg, something is perceived as being not quite right with the conventional American dream and those who achieve it. Nonetheless Nick opens the novel by remembering his father's advice: "Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth" (Fitzgerald 1).
The main character Gatsby, despite the appearance that he has achieved the American dream, is actually a man alone who tries to turn back the clock and win his true love Daisy. However, despite the glittering parties and material luxuries of Gatsby's world, Fitzgerald's style admits a serious stream of cynicism that is pervasive throughout the novel. When Daisy tells Nick her baby might be a girl she says "And I hope she'll be a fool-that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool" (Fitzgerald 17). This cynicism and world of false appearances are significant to Fitzgerald's style, especially because the author discovered in his own existence that all that glitters is not necessarily gold. As much as Gatsby loves Daisy, she is far from a paragon of virtue. As much as Gatsby is admired for his material success only two people attend his funeral. The cynicism and nihilism in the novel are products of an era that was discovering that even the "American dream" is an illusion. In Fitzgerald's style this is true even for heroes like Gatsby, a man who is described at the beginning of the novel as being in control of life to the point where he even owns a piece of nature: "Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr.
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Fitzgerald, F. S. The Great Gatsby. New York, Collier Books, 1980.