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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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