The decline of American dream. The universal human truth is a human nature is to dream big, to strive for more, to live better, however there is always a reality that not everyone lives the American dream. In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby’s hope is to get to live the American dream of living good and becoming rich. In America in 1920’s people were kind of divided in to classes, some people came from “old money” and others that became rich by working hard. This theme is evidenced in the novel, where narrator shows how rich people live lavish lives, however, there is always another side, where people work very hard, sometimes they become rich by working hard and sometimes they live poor.
3 Quotes that represent the Theme
“I lived at West Egg, the—well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them. [...] Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans. Daisy was my second cousin once removed, and I'd known Tom in college. And just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago.” (1.14-15)
“James Gatz isn't just embarrassed of his parents like a normal teen; he seems to have fantasies of having different parents entirely. Like secretly being a prince—or belonging to a family that owns polo horses?”
“That’s my Middle West . . . the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark. . . . I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all—Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.”
Indirect quote for Nick
“Nick Carraway, according to his bio, grew up in family of "prominent, well-to-do people" in Chicago, and his family has a fun little tradition of calling themselves the decendents of the "Dukes of Buccleuch," even though they actually made their money two generations ago in the "wholesale hardware business" (1.5). He went Yale; he likes literature and considers himself one of those "limited" specialists known as a "well-rounded man"; he fought in World War I, which he found kind of exciting; and now he's moved East to work in the bond business (that is, finance) in New York City.
Direct quote for Nick
“Check out that "consoling proximity." Nick is being a little self-deprecating, mocking himself for thinking that being near rich people makes up for the fact that his house is small and ugly. At the same time—doesn't he believe it, just a little? Doesn't he seem to enjoy being around the wealthy, careless people who party at Gatsby's house?
Those may be the facts, but they don't actually give us much insight into his personality. We learn more about him from the way he talks than what he says. Like this: we find out that he's connected to wealthy (as opposed to simply well-to-do) and important people, like his cousin Daisy and Tom, a college acquaintance, but he isn't one of them: his house is a "small eyesore," even though it offers him the "consoling proximity of millionaires" (1.14).
Nick calls himself "one of the few honest people that I have ever known" (3.170), but that doesn't mean he's very nice. Nick may be polite and easy to get along with on the outside, but he's not afraid to tell it like it is. Nick still seems to see himself as a good Midwestern boy with high standards for everyone he meets, including himself, and prides himself on maintaining his standards, even in the corrupt, fast-moving world of East coast high society.
INDIRECT QUOTE FOR JAY GATSBY:
Gatsby, the title character of The Great Gatsby is a young man, around thirty years old, who rose from an impoverished childhood in rural North Dakota to become fabulously wealthy. However, he achieved this lofty goal by participating in organized crime, including distributing illegal alcohol and trading in stolen securities. From his early youth, Gatsby despised poverty and longed for wealth and sophistication—he dropped out of St. Olaf’s College after only two weeks because he could not bear the janitorial job with which he was paying his tuition. Though Gatsby has always wanted to be rich, his main motivation in acquiring his fortune was his love for Daisy Buchanan, whom he met as a young military officer in Louisville before leaving to fight in World War I in 1917. Gatsby immediately fell in love with Daisy’s aura of luxury, grace, and charm, and lied to her about his own background in order to convince her that he was good enough for her. Gatsby pursue Daisy, a lady that he really likes, but he does not see her limitations. Gatsby has literally created his own character, even changing his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby to represent his reinvention of himself.
DIRECT QUOTE FOR JAY GATSBY
“I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I ventured. “You can’t repeat the past.” “Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!” He(Jay Gatsby) looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
Situated at the end of Daisy’s East Egg dock and barely visible from Gatsby’s West Egg lawn, the green light represents Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for the future. Gatsby associates it with Daisy, and in Chapter 1 he reaches toward it in the darkness as a guiding light to lead him to his goal. Because Gatsby’s quest for Daisy is broadly associated with the American dream, the green light also symbolizes that more generalized ideal. In Chapter 9, Nick compares the green light to how America, rising out of the ocean, must have looked to early settlers of the new nation.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
These words conclude the novel and find Nick returning to the theme of the significance of the past to dreams of the future, here represented by the green light. He focuses on the struggle of human beings to achieve their goals by both transcending and re-creating the past.