The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Roaring Twenties come to portray America during the time of Prohibition. In the 1920’s, where the book takes place, World War I just came to a close. Many people swarmed toward the big cities from their small towns. They viewed the cities as an opportunity to search for a more modern way of living. Alcohol fluctuated in many new American homes and drunks occupied prisons and poorhouses. A group of activists tried to eliminate alcohol and attempt to help the country return to the simpler lifestyle. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald displays the corruption of the 1920s through his character Jay Gatsby and his illustration of the evils of prohibition.In the start of the novel we are introduced to West Egg and East Egg. West Egg inhabits people of newfound wealth whereas East Egg houses those of old money.

The main character, Jay Gatsby, was a man of new wealth. Coming from an unstable family, it was Gatsby’s goal to become wealthy for one girl, Daisy Buchanan. To Gatsby’s dismay, Daisy came from old wealth, which caused great conflict throughout the whole story. Gatsby was known as a self-made man; however, he wasn’t the kind of self-made man most strived to be. Making all of his money through his illegal bootlegging of alcohol during the prohibition, Gatsby had more than enough cash. Gatsby made his money from illegally distributing alcohol during the Prohibition. The price of selling alcohol under the counter was not worth it for him. He became a gangster to earn his growing wealth. He lost sight of who he was because of his obsession with getting a girl.

Gatsby became a very hasty man, telling all sorts of lies to make him sound higher up in the social status department. Jay was always trying to get rid of his past life, being a poor son of two poor parents. However, he constantly found himself caught up in a past relationship. He changed everything about himself, his name, house, and town,all to escape his past; yet he is obsessed with certain parts, Daisy. He couldn’t think of anything else besides impressing her. “Daisy was his motivation to becoming wealthy, and she would end up being the number one reason for his drastic down fall” (Lathbury 1). Although Jay was a self-made man, others had some involvement shaping him into the man he became.

Dan Cody was introduced to Gatsby when he was young. He taught Jay lessons about wealth and how to become wealthy. In The Great Gatsby, Nick describes, “And it was from Cody that the inherited money – a legacy of twenty-five thousand dollars. He didn’t get it…but what remained of the millions went intact to Ella Kaye. He was left with his singularly appropriate education; the vague contour of Jay Gatsby had filled out to the substantiality of a man,” (Fitzgerald 64). Ella Kaye was the lucky last mistress of Dan Cody, unfortunately for Gatsby, she got all of his money. Leaving Gatsby out of luck, he became desperate for money just like the people of the 1920’s time were desperate for liquor. Since Dan was no longer around, Jay found a new companion.

Meyer Wolfsheim was also a gangster in the novel and said to have fixed the 1919 World Series. Meyer was based on a real man, Arnold Rothstein, a real life gangster of the 1920’s. It is said that Arnold actually fixed the 1919 World Series. Tori Avey tells, “The novel, at least in part, provides a reflection of the social issues and attitudes of the time period” (Avey 1). Gatsby getting involved with a gangster shows the lengths he would go to be rich. It also demonstrates carelessness of people during that time.During the 1920’s popularity was heavily influenced by the alcohol one could provide at social gatherings. Gatsby was known for his way on getting alcohol. Jay was known for his crazy parties and lavish home. He was known in every wealthy person’s mouth, yet no one ever got to know him.

Everyone knew who Gatsby was on the outside but very few knew the real Jimmy Gatz.As long as Gatsby was living, he would be under the constant nag from his fellow mobsters in the illegal business. One can’t simply get out of bootlegging, another example of Gatsby not thinking of the consequences. “It was organized crime, since the prohibition made any consuming or distributing of alcohol illegal” (Lathbury 1). Since it was an organized crime it resulted in organized gangs similar to the one Gatsby was in. His job was a nonstop bother to him as well as anyone he was around. Getting calls all the time, Gatsby was unable to turn down the majority of them in fear of his life and everything he worked for becoming endangered. He received countless calls during his parties, which he answered without much fuss.

During his parties he was only really focused on the hopes of Daisy coming in, so answering phone calls wasn’t that big of a deal. However, once he finally got the attention of Daisy, the phone calls became a problem. When he was with Daisy he refused the phone calls making the men very irritated with him. “After handling every call, it was evident to Gatsby that he would never be able to escape the hole he fell into” (Telgen 1). Gatsby was tied in with the bad crowd until his death almost as if he committed his life to Daisy.Gatsby sacrificed his whole life just for one girl who didn’t truly love him enough to save his life. He gave up his life to become an illegal bootlegger just to gain money to get her attention. She had her old money to fall back into as she let Gatsby fall into his grave. The conflict of old money versus new money was brought up once again with Daisy. She came from money and she would never be in the same social status as Gatsby. “It would always be like that, even for two people who weren’t Gatsby and Daisy” (Avey 1).

Every party Gatsby threw was for Daisy and she only ended up coming to one. The party that she did end up going to she didn’t even like; in turn Gatsby stopped having parties. He would go to the end of the world for her, and all she did was run away from him in the end. Even after having an affair with Gatsby, she ran back to her old life with her husband and their old money where they didn’t have to worry about silly people like Gatsby. “The only reason he was able to have his partied was because of his job, which was now not even necessary for him” (Telgen 1).Not many people thought through what they were doing because they were consumed with new ideas of the Jazz Age. Like Gatsby, many people were involved in illegal bootlegging, while others bought the illegal alcohol to gain themselves a higher ranking on the social list.

The corruption of many of the people of this time period is sad, however it does serve as a good example for people today. As well as the backfire that came along with the prohibition. The selling of alcohol and the drunkards did not stop with the law, it simply got more and more undercover. An inescapable cycle of wanting to be someone he was not, Gatsby, with the help from Daisy, ended up dying a very unnoticed life in the minds of many. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald portrays the corruption of the 1920s through his character Jay Gatsby and his illustration of the evils of prohibition.

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