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Great Gatsby Essay, Research Paper

There is a numerous amount of similarities between F. Scott Fitzgerald’s

The Great Gatsby, and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Both authors write

about the real world and how real people behave under certain circumstances. For

this reason there are many similarities between the two novels. There was a vast

variety of similarities ranging from themes, symbols, and common persona

between the characters in both stories. For example both stories contained a

wealthy character, the narrator who portrayed the average man, and the dream of

being able to win the love of a former friend, among many others. But the

similarity which seemed to be most evident between the two stories was that of

“phonies.” Both stories contain minor as well as main characters whose surface

behavior disguises their inner feelings.

A minor character in The Great Gatsby who is fake is Jordan Baker. Jordan

Baker always appears to be “cool” but also portrays the irresponsible exploitation

that Nick sees in Tom and Daisy Buchanan. Jordan is supposed to be the top

woman’s golfer. But this is ironic because the reader learns of how she cheats.

This makes Jordan fake because everyone believes her to be the best female golfer

but in reality she’s a big cheater. A character who appears to be similar in the

novel The Catcher in the Rye is Ackley. Ackley is Holden’s roommate who does

not exactly fit into society. He is unsophisticated and disagrees on many topics

with Holden. He always makes up stories of how he has had sexual relations with

several girls. Ackley makes up these stories so that maybe Holden and the other

guys will accept him and think he’s “cool.” But Holden, along with the other guys,

all know he is lying. This makes Ackley a phony and a comparative to Jordan

Baker who also lies while golfing.

A second example of “phonies” between the two books is Tom Buchanan

from The Great Gatsby and Stradlater from The Catcher in the Rye. Stradlater is

the person who depicts all of the admirable qualities in society. These qualities

include being a great athlete, being popular among the other boys, and being good

with members of the opposite sex. Stradlater is very egotistic and self-centered.

“The reason he fixed himself up to look good was because he was madly in love

with himself.” (Salinger 27). While he is out having fun and enjoying himself he

has Holden write an essay for him. Another example of how he is fake is that

secretly he is a slob. His razor is covered with hair and rusted. “Stradlater was

more of a secret slob. He always looked all right, Stradlater, but for instance, you

should’ve seen the razor he shaved himself with. It was always rusty as hell and

full of lather and hairs and crap.” (Salinger 27). These reasons make Stradlater a

phony. Tom can be compared to Stradlater because he is also self-absorbed. He

cares about nothing but his own ego. He has an affair with Myrtle Wilson and

thinks nothing of it. But when he discovers Gatsby and his wife Daisy having an

affair he becomes extremely upset. This makes him fake along with the fact that

he always retreats into his money.

In Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Holden exclaims that Hollywood and

the theater are made up of the biggest bunch of phonies. Holden has viewed

several plays and says that the actors are not realistic. They don’t act like normal

people would. But then when he goes to the play with Sally he said some of the

actors and actresses were too realistic and were phonies. “If there’s one thing I

hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me” (Salinger 2). Holden was

also a little upset with the fact that his older brother D.B. had excepted money

from Hollywood. The people of Hollywood could be compared to the people at

Jay Gatsby’s parties in The Great Gatsby. All of the people at Gatsby’s parties

appeared to be elegant and rich even though most of them weren’t. The majority

of the people who attended the parties weren’t even invited. They all tried to act

like they were worth a million bucks by acting pompous and making up stories

about Gatsby’s past in order to try to fit in. This made all of the guests at Jay

Gatsby’s parties phonies.

The fourth and final comparison of phonies between the two books is about

Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye and Jay Gatsby from The Great

Gatsby. The common similarity between these two main characters is that they are

always trying to be someone they are not. For example every time Holden goes to

a lounge or restaurant he always tries to order a scotch and coke even though he is

not yet old enough to purchase alcohol. Then when he is rejected from buying

alcohol he tries to convince the waiter or waitress that he is of legal age. Another

instance was when Holden was on the train back to the city and he starts talking to

Mrs. Morrow, the mother of one of the boys at Pencey. He says his name is

Rudolph Schmidt and he is going to New York for a brain tumor operation.

“‘Rudolph Schmidt.’ I told her. I didn’t feel like giving her my whole life history…”

(Salinger 54). Holden is also fake when he is in the hotel room and is looking out

the window. He is saying how everyone else in the other rooms were perverts

when he was the one being perverted and looking through their windows. Jay

Gatsby has been living nearly his entire life under a false identity. He tells people

that he fought in the war and that he received honors from every one of the allied

countries. Gatsby never tells Nick how he made his money and this leads to

suspicion. Many people believe he was a German spy, some say he killed a man,

and some say he was cousin to the German Kaiser and cousin to the devil. But as

Nick later finds out his name is really Jay Gatz and he was born on a farm in North

Dakota. Working for a millionaire made him dedicate his life to the achievement

of wealth, and when he met Daisy while training to be an officer in Louisville, he

fell in love with her. Nick also learns that Gatsby made his fortune through

criminal activity, as he was willing to do anything to gain the position he thought

was necessary to win Daisy. Both of these characters tried to portray a different

person throughout the entirety of both novels.

It was evident over the course of both novels, The Catcher in the Rye and

The Great Gatsby that there were many similarities between the two. And the idea

of “phonies” was evident in numerous places in both books. It was a very popular

topic in both novels and that is the reason it was chosen as the topic of this paper.

Both authors used the concept of a “phony” to help illustrate the way many people

act when trying to fit in and when placed under other circumstances.


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