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Two prevalent themes portrayed in The Great Gatsby are money and social

status, both which coincide with the novel?s four settings: East Egg, West

Egg, the Valley of Ashes, and New York. As Natania stated, these different

locations are used to ?show the absurdities of modern life,? as well as to

dictate social class from the upper royal status of the East Egg community to

the common folk of New York. Fitzgerald uses these settings and the

actions of characters within them to define and set boundaries between

financial and social status of the roaring 20?s.

An example of Fitzgerald?s technique lies in the comparison of Myrtle

Wilson?s party in her New York apartment to one of Gatsby?s many summer

parties in his West Egg mansion. Through descriptions of guests coming

and going frequently, and the obnoxious drinking and wild conversation

going on at the New York and West Egg parties, the reader can conclude

that neither of these locations are above the social standing of an upper class

party of East Egg, such as one at Tom and Daisy Buchanan?s without the

slight insanity of their dysfunctional family. However, the differences

between Myrtle and Gatsby?s parties are great and relevant to Fitzgerald?s

theme.

For example, the physical description of guests attending the party in

New York gives knowledge to the reader of their lower class standing.

Myrtle?s sister arrives with a ?sticky bob of red hair? and wild, unnatural

eyebrows and makeup, and Mr. McKee with lather showing on his

cheekbone. His wife is described as ?shrill, languid, handsome, and

horrible,? quite the opposite of guests attending Gatsby?s party, and even the

host himself. Fitzgerald describes Gatsby as a very clean cut, proud

postured, gentlemanly looking man with hair which looks like it ?were

trimmed every day,? just as a stereotypical member of the social upper class

should appear. Myrtle?s party included obnoxious, almost insane guests

who were quick to speak their rude, blunt opinions and provide proof to

Jordan Baker?s statement that ?at small parties there isn?t any privacy.? In

fact, Tom Buchanan was so uncivilized a guest as to punch Myrtle, his lover

and the party?s hostess, and cause a bloody mess. This scene would never be

seen at Gatsby?s mansion, for it proved to be a truly sophisticated gathering

including a complete orchestra, a mammoth buffet of food including two

formal suppers, as well as champagne and many different liquors. All

Myrtle had to offer her guests was oversized furniture in a small apartment

and bottomless bottles of whiskey, which seemed to fit the guest list?s

requests perfectly.

Therefore, through descriptive analysis of the characters and locations

in The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald supports his theme of the importance of

financial and social status of the roaring 20?s.


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