The first five chapters of The Great Gatsby give you a sense of what life in the Roaring Twenties was like for a variety of people.

This activity gives you a chance to extend your thinking about four key elements of the novel:
  • Gatsby's character
  • The shifting moral code of the 1920s
  • The American dream
  • People who are disenfranchised (deprived of access to the same rights or privileges as the wealthy).

Post two separate messages that each responds to one of the following questions. Remember to be specific in your response and refer to the novel to support your ideas.
  • What have you learned about Gatsby's character, and how do you think he gained his millions?
  • How does the shifting moral code of the 1920s compare to today's moral code?
  • What is your conception of the American dream, and how does it differ from the conception that Fitzgerald seems to be presenting in the novel?
  • Who are America's disenfranchised, according to Fitzgerald? In what ways has the quality of life and status of these people improved, and in what ways do they remain disenfranchised?

As a follow-up posting, comment on whether you agree or disagree, and why, with at least two other students' postings.


Take your time and be thorough.  This activity is worth 30 points (10 points for each of your two initial posts, 5 points for each of your responses).
Trevor
4/18/2013 10:34:59 am

I think that Gatsby is an undecover FBI agent. He is working to dismember the gangs who are selling illegal alchohol. The biggest indication of this when Gatsby gets pulled over while taking Nick to lunch. Gatsby hands the poliece officer a mysterious white flag, and the officer seems to become flustered and apologizes for bothering him. Gatsby is spying on Wolfshiem and the other shady characters in New York City. Gatsby showing Nick one of the medals he earned in World War I is further evidence that Gatsby is working undercover. Someone who has proven their worth in the military would be a perfect person to recruit for an undercover FBI agent. The government is probably loading Gatsby with money so he can appear to live with the ritch people in East and West Egg. He stands and watches people at his grand party because he is looking for people associated with illegal mobs among the ritch people. In other words, Gatsby is the man who is looking for rich people who have not honestly earned their fortunes.

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4/18/2013 03:14:06 pm

I have several doubts about your interpretation of Gatsby's character. For one, if this is the case, the entire meaning of the novel would change. This is not, after all, an action or mystery novel but a commentary on social structure in society and changing values in America. For another, the fourth chapter explains that Gatsby's money comes from his family, which has died out, that he lives where he does so that he can be close to Daisy, and it suggests that Gatsby remains detached from his party to try and see Daisy on the chance that she will come someday.

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Tristan
4/20/2013 07:44:57 pm

I kind of agree with Hannah. I don't think he's an undercover agent, but I won't say I don't think he's getting money from somewhere other than "died out family." I like your thought about him spying on Wolfshiem too.

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Mika
4/21/2013 02:31:03 pm

I must also disagree with you, as I think Gatsby IS the one of the member of the gangs selling illegal alchohol. He was obviously lying about getting his money from dead family, but I think he's actually working with Wolfshiem. He's very ambitious and wants to achieve the American dream, and so he might be doing illegal things to achieve it.

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Carley
4/23/2013 06:47:03 am

I think your interpretation of Gatsby's character is a little unbelievable, but is still quite possible. The evidence you use to defend your opinion very well backs you up. With all of the scandals in the "perfect" higher society, anything can be possible.

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Kelti Lorence
4/23/2013 08:27:20 am

I'm sorry Trevor but Hannah's point has been proven and backed up... However I like your theory better! Adding the action and mystery of an FBI agent to the story could easily fit in with how secretive he is and the fake front he works so hard to uphold while making the story even better.

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Hannah H
4/23/2013 06:48:56 pm

Very interesting take on the character of Gatsby, Trev. I liked it, although I also like the plot of the story just the way it is. Its a little more meaningfull when it mirrors the actuall common conflicts of the time period and not just a mystery novel.

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Celeste
4/24/2013 09:25:11 pm

As much as I want this to be true because of the amazing twist it would bring I have to agree with all the points that have been brought up against it. If Gatsby were a secret agent there would probably be more hints and more build up so that people would be start asking why is this happening and then BAM!! We find out he is an FBI guy. However, I do like your take.

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Brady
4/18/2013 11:53:46 am

My conception of the American Dream is that of people rising to riches from nothing. People can start from nothing but with hard work they can rise to the top. Fitzgerald portrays this a different way. He displays an image of people having all they want in material means, yet they are still unsatisfied. On page 22 Daisy says "I've been everywhere and seen everything and done everything." She follows this up with saying "Sophisticated--- God, I'm so sophisticate!" This shows that yes she has been everywhere and seen everything, but she is still not happy. She can feign happiness by having people over to see her mansion of a house, eat fancy food, and wear expensive clothes but there is still something missing in her life. This is a different model of the American Dream because I view it as someone rising to the top, getting to where they want to be, then living a long happy life. This model is that of once they get there, they are still unsatisfied.

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4/18/2013 03:20:05 pm

I agree that Fitzgerald definitely portrays the American dream differently than many of us may imagine it. I also noticed that Fitzgerald portrays all of those people who have the "American dream" are all inherently rich. This group of people does not seem to include the middle or working classes, all of which are the ones who are truly doing the hard work. I have a question, though. Why are those who you picture as having the American dream (those who rise to the top and get where they want to be) happy? Why should they be happier than the people that Fitzgerald portrays?

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Tristan
4/20/2013 07:50:20 pm

I, again, partly agree with your statement (like with Trevor's.) I agree with the results of the American Dream portrayed in the book, but i think your conception and this one are the same, it's just your idea of how it ends up thats different.

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Mackenzie
4/21/2013 05:56:34 pm

I agree with the fact the Fitzgerald portrays the idea that even when someone gets all they have worked for and have all they have ever wanted, they still aren't happy. But I also think that what Fitzgerald is saying is so true. I don't think that many people take into account that even when they grasp the American dream, they still probably won't be happy for some reason or another.

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Brady
4/18/2013 11:54:07 am

Well I have only read the first 2 chapters and Gatsby is still pretty mysterious but some inferences can be made. He is a well-known man, rich, and a pretty shady guy. On page 37 Catherine says “I'm scared of him. I'd hate to have him get anything on me.” Gatsby sounds like the kind of guy that you don't want to make an enemy of and this may be foreshadowing an event in the future. Gatsby's wealth is hinted to in the second chapter. Catherine is talking with Nick when she says “Well, they say he's a nephew or a cousin of Kaiser Willhelm's. That's where all his money comes from.” This is hinting that he didn't work for his wealth, it was inherited to him. This also could be a reflection of the American Dream Fitzgerald is representing. Gatsby has all the material wealth he could want yet he is still unsatisfied. This is shown in Chapter 1 page 25 when Nick sees him by the water. “But I didn't call to him for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone--- he stretched out his arms toward the water in a curious way”. This image is that of a man looking out on the water and looking incomplete, like he is asking for an answer to what he needs.

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Mika
4/21/2013 02:34:14 pm

I like your theory of why he had his arms stretched over the water because he was looking for answers. The most i though about it was that maybe he was drunk from one of his parties.

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Ariana
4/23/2013 06:26:48 am

I agree with Mika, I also like your theory on why he had his arms stretched over the water. I didn't look at it that way before this.

Trevor
5/13/2013 07:15:33 pm

Well Brady, although I think my ideas about Gastby were more original, I will say your take on Gatsby's character is more fitting for the plot of the story and the statement Fitzgerald is trying to make. Good job Brady.

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4/18/2013 02:50:28 pm

1. Gatsby is one of the most complex characters in this novel. During the first two chapters, he remains shadowy and hidden, and all that the reader knows of him comes from the rumors that circulate through the conversations of those who come to his parties. The narrator notes that he inspired "romantic speculation." Also through these parties it becomes clear that Gatsby is extremely rich. At the end of the third chapter, the reader sees Gatsby himself for the first time. The first aspect of Gatsby that the narrator notes is his smile. The narrator says, "It faced -- or seemed to face -- the whole external world for an instant, then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.” (Ch. 3, p. 48) In other words, Gatsby has a way of connecting to people, even those he does not know. This is very similar to Daisy’s way with people. The narrator also notes in the same paragraph, however, that the smile seems to cover something; when it is not there the narrator sees Gatsby as “an elegant young roughneck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd.” Thus, Gatsby is very careful about how he portrays himself to other people. In the fourth chapter, Gatsby’s character is even further developed. The narrator portrays him as restless: “He was never quite still; there was always the tapping of a foot somewhere or the impatient opening and closing of a hand.” Gatsby is also abrupt in conversation while simultaneously maintaining a perception of things when it is in his interest (for instance, he had discreetly found out that the narrator intended to meet Miss Baker later). He also seems to be accustomed to having things his way (for instance, he tells rather than asks the narrator to have lunch with him). Overall, Gatsby is as unsatisfied as the rest of his social class despite his enormous wealth, which he says he obtained after the death of all those that made up his family.

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4/18/2013 03:06:39 pm

2. The shifting moral code of the twenties was mainly based on the obtaining of pleasures, whether that be happiness through sexual relations and alcohol or material goods, with as little effort as possible. As a result, marriages and relationships lost value (as is exemplified in Daisy’s and Mrs. Wilson’s marriages) and unhappiness grew to such heights that many seemed to lose sight of all meaning in life. At the beginning of Chapter 4 is an excellent line that seems to sum up the change in moral code: “On Sunday morning while church bells rang in the villages alongshore, the world and its mistress returned to Gatsby’s house and twinkled hilariously on his lawn.” (Ch. 4, p.61) This shows very clearly how moral values that once were held and particularly nourished by the Christian faith were being abandoned for other things that would be considered more secular. Today’s moral code reflects this, although since then the middle class has joined the upper class rather than remained particularly attached to moral values. People on the whole in America still do not value relationships or marriage highly, still seek to find happiness through quick pleasures and material goods, and still prefer to obtain prosperity for as little work as possible. Today’s society just seems to be a continuation of the twenties, although perhaps without quite the level of extremes.

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Tristan Rude
4/20/2013 07:34:48 pm

In regards to Gatsby's character, I have learned that he is an obsessive type of person. He has been obsessed with his love for Daisy for the past 5 years. He bought a mansion directly across from her, he throws elaborate parties in the hope that she will come to one, and when he discovers his next door neighbor knows her, he hatches a plan to see her. I think he made his millions by "investing" in different businesses, such as illegal alcohol sale, and maybe other more legal types.

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Mackenzie
4/21/2013 06:11:37 pm

Tristan, I agree with the fact that Gatsby is maybe a little obsessive. However, I believe that he is just a man that got hurt and is still crazy in love with a woman from his past and he doesn't know how to move on with his life without her.

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Kendall
4/21/2013 07:22:58 pm

I think you hit Gatsby's character right on when it comes to his emotions and relationship with Daisy. And there is definitely something sketchy going on when it comes to Gatsby's way of making money and the work he is involved with.

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Kelti Lorence
4/23/2013 09:08:30 am

I agree he is a bit obsessive as well. Especially in the idea that being obsessed with something tends to mean you somewhat mentally unstable and probably will lack confidence. While Gatsby goes to great measures to show off his wealth in hopes Daisy will notice, he never attempts to speak to her. Does he really think she is going to randomly show up at his front door one night during a party and walk in uninvited? I agree his wealth could be from illegal transactions; with how badly he wants Daisy to like him again, I believe he would do just about anything to impress her no matter that danger in placed him in.

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Megan W
4/24/2013 10:19:27 am

I think "obsessive" is a good way to describe Gatsby's feelings toward Daisy, she seems to be all he thinks about. I do think however, that his motives are justified, it seems that he just wants some closure. I believe it is because of his feelings for Daisy that he resorts to illegal activity to accumulate enough wealth to impress Daisy.

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Tristan Rude
4/20/2013 07:40:30 pm

The shifting moral code of the 1920s is like an ancestor of modern moral values. The prospect of extramarital relationships is not unheard of, the law is a flexible thing, and people don't mind as much that they may do "wrong." They're moving into a world more focused on secular wealth and individual achievement. However, this does heighten the value of the individual. Women are gaining a more independence, the lower classes are emerging from below the rich and prosperous. But these advantages are mirrored with the previously mentioned disadvantages.

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Ariana
4/23/2013 06:28:56 am

Tristan, i liked how you brought up how the moral code was shifting during this time period. It's importnat to understnad this in order to fully grasp and understand this novel.

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Celeste
4/24/2013 09:29:02 pm

I think you are absolutely right. I think that with every change there is some good but also bad and that is definitely what happened in the twenties and what is happening today. I also really liked how you said ancestor of today's moral code because it made me laugh a little.

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Mika
4/21/2013 01:57:59 pm

Though Gatsby has parties all the time, he doesn't have many close friends and is a bit of a loner. Everyone has a theory or rumor about Gatsby becasue no one knows his real story. As Nick noticed at his first visit to one of Gatsby's parties, Gatsby stands alone watching everyone else have a good time. Gatsby is also very obsessive. He starts to become friends with Nick only because Nick knows Daisy, who Gatsby is obsessed with. He bought a house across from her and has all his parties only hoping to see her. Though Gatsby says his money was inherited from dead family, I think he gained his millions from some kind of illegal work he's involved in.

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Mary Sine
4/23/2013 06:24:55 pm

I agree with your opinions that Gatsby is a loner and that he became closer friends with Nick because of Nick's connection to Daisy. You make a good point about how he is obsessed with Daisy and with seeing her. I agree that he probably got a lot of his money from illegal work, like bootlegging which would have been a huge source of income, if a little dangerous, during Prohibition.

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Emily
4/30/2013 04:43:19 pm

Mika, I agree that Gatsby was doing illegal work and didn't get his money from dead family, because if his family had that much money in the first place, he probably would've had more money in the first place.

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Mika
4/21/2013 02:25:20 pm

Fitzgerald shows that those who strive toward the American dream by wanting in material things end up with riches and a high social rank, but unhappy. Gatsby, for instance, seems to have achieved the American dream. He has millions, throws parties, is liked by the entire town, and can buy whatever he wants, yet he still is unhappy. He loves Daisy, who is not in the equation of accomplishing the American dream since love is not a materialistic thing, and without her he is unhappy. Therefor i think the American dream is achieving your goals in life and having everything you truly want (instead materialistic thing such as the newest iphone) and being happy in the end.

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Lacayah
4/30/2013 08:52:14 pm

I agree and like that you used the example of Gatsby in it.

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Mackenzie
4/21/2013 05:46:30 pm

From my reading this far, Gatsby has been described as a colorful character with many crazy experiences under his belt. On page 70 Gatsby tells Nick, "After that I lived like a young rajah in all the capitals of Europe-Paris, Venice, Rome-collecting jewels, chiefly rubies, hunting big game, painting a little, things for myself only, and trying to forget something very sad that happened to me long ago." This paragraph also shows readers that Gatsby is a mysterious man too. I think that Gatsby has made his millions because of his rich family- his money is an inheritence. I also think that a lot of the money he has made is from some secret organization that is no one knows about.

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Mackenzie
4/21/2013 05:52:05 pm

My idea of the "American Dream" is fulfilling ones dreams through hard work and persistence. It's not necessarily the fanciest car, the biggest house, or the most money-unless of course that's what one wants of their life. The American dream is living your life the way you want to-free to do whatever you please. Fitzgerald, however, is presenting the idea that the American dream is all about the fancy car and the fancy house. Almost every character in this book has all the luxuries that the American life has to offer.

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Kendall
4/21/2013 07:19:01 pm

I definitely agree with your interpretation of the American Dream Kenz, I think it very accurate and fits very well in today's society of what this dream is. But back in the 1920s things were a lot different obviously, the main goal being material wealth.

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Kendall
4/21/2013 06:51:33 pm

So far what I have read about Gatsby has led me to believe he is still a mysterious character with a past full adventures. These adventure are still very bleakly described but help develop Gatsby into the absent character he seems to be. We see his absence conveyed thoroughly in chapter 3 as Nick describes Gatsby at his own party "standing alone on the marble steps and looking from one group to another with approving eyes." (pg. 54). I think Gatsby inherited his money from family as said by many of his "guest" but i also think he lost it all in a black market deal or some sort of undercover business he is apart of, which he is now trying to earn back. I get this idea from the secret meeting Gatsby has with Jordan Baker and his party and the exchange he has with the police officer while taking Nick to lunch. "The exchange of a white flag."

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Kendall
4/21/2013 07:13:49 pm

My interpretation of the "American Dream" is that of freedom. Freedom to do what you want with your life, to do what makes you happy without punishment or judgement. The American Dream is that of fresh starts and the ability to start with nothing and end with riches, whether that be material wealth or the wealth of happiness. In contrast Fitzgerald portrays the "American Dream" with that of material wealth. Almost all the characters we have met so far are in association with material riches such as houses, cars and property. In our first encounter with Tom Buchanan he makes sure to mention his riches to Nick trying to convince Nick and himself of his happiness through material wealth. (pg. 12) "I've got a nice place here, he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly."

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Mary Sine
4/23/2013 06:28:30 pm

I like your interpretation of the American Dream more than I like the interpretation that it is all about material wealth, personally. I agree that Fitzgerald is portraying the American Dream as material wealth, probably as part of his commentary on the pleasure-seeking and the obsession with money and material goods during the 1920s.

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Trevor
5/13/2013 07:21:10 pm

I agree with Mary. I like your interpretation and the sense of freedom it gives. I also believe Fitzgerald, as well as society in the 1920's, saw the dream in a differently, as that of material wealth.

Ariana
4/23/2013 06:20:04 am

After reading this far, the reader does still not know all of Gatsby's past. This keeps the reader intrigued in the book and connects them by wanting to know that past. Gatsby is a mysterious character with many crazy and exciting adventures and ecperiences; or so it seems. As you continue to read, the reader begins to notice that Gatsby seems to be invoved in something or his hiding something from most people. In chapter four, Gatsby tells Nick that he is from the midwest. But when Nick asks what city, Gatsby says San Fransico. I think that Gatsby is in the black market or an undercover operation.

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Ariana
4/23/2013 06:24:57 am

In the book " The Great Gatsby" the "American Dream" is a big theme throughout the entire book. The image of the "American Dream" is what seems to drive people in this book. The idea of being wealthy and having every material item possible is much more valuable to the majority of people of the 1920s than love or happiness. The characters we have seen so far are all concerned about their material items and their apperance to the world. A lot of this " American Dream" is not just the actual materials and wealth but that lower people and people of class notice that they have these pocessions.

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Carley
4/23/2013 07:02:02 am

I completely agree with your opinion of the American dream. It seems like people's focus was to just fill their lives with material objects, not more important things like love or happiness.

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Carley
4/23/2013 06:42:50 am

From what I have read so far in the book, I am led to believe that Gatsby is a bootlegger. Throughout the novel, Gatsby has been a mysterious character because nobody knows exactly who he is and things from his past don’t seem to add up. For instance, Gatsby weaves a very “threadbare” recount of his past where he lived in the “Midwest” and how after his family died, he travelled across Europe, living like “rajah” (pg. 70). This murky past along with the rumors and his parties’ bar’s that are “stocked with gin and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another” (pg. 44) lead readers to the conclusion that Gatsby must have some association with the illegal selling and distributing of alcohol. At the beginning of chapter 4, one woman even comes out and says that she believes that Gatsby is a bootlegger. The time period in which the novel is written takes place during the prohibition, so the distribution of alcohol was illegal, making it much more prized and much, much more expensive to attain, therefor making anyone who can sell it quite rich.

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Carley
4/23/2013 06:58:28 am

My conception of the American dream is that of a life of freedom. After being suppressed by strong central governments, people all around the world are looking for a place where they can live their lives how they want to. Fitzgerald’s idea of the American dream is that along with the freedom that America holds, people are also fulfilling their needs with materials objects, which will not make them happy. A prime example of this is Daisy and Tom. While the both of them come from money and are incredibly rich, neither of them are content. Tom, for instance, seeks more freedom by having mistresses. Gatsby is another great example. He is hopelessly in love with Daisy and believes that by becoming rich and throwing elaborate parties that he can show he is good enough for her. Fitzgerald is trying to stress that money can’t always buy happiness and how the American “dream” has been jaded by people’s selfish ambitions for money.

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Megan W
4/24/2013 10:30:59 am

You make some good points about contentment and how Tom isn't content, which is why he turns to Myrtle.

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Kelti Lorence
4/23/2013 08:50:37 am

I have always thought the “American dream” was just that; the perfection a dream offers, experienced in life, wanted by millions yet only obtained by thousands, the lucky ones to reach America and strive for their goals. It is a state of pure happiness from success and wealth that everyone seeks. People worldwide want to move to the states because of the beautiful and boundless opportunities to reach this perfection. After reading The Great Gatsby however, this conception has begun to change. While the main idea that money can buy happiness is considered the American dream, the reality of this happening is quite a bit lower than I thought. Wealth and power seems to make people unhappy because they do not have the relationships to sustain their internal desire to be wanted and cared for. Gatsby is a prime example of this. He devotes his life to becoming wealthy and once he reaches that point he is more miserable than ever because the girl he wanted to impress is still not giving him any attention.

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Emily
4/30/2013 04:58:32 pm

Kelti, I agree that people aren't happy because of their money, not just in spite of it because they can't form good relationships.

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Kelti Lorence
4/23/2013 09:03:46 am

Those who live in “the valley of ashes”, a place immersed in poverty and hopelessness seem to be Fitzgerald’s idea of the disenfranchised. Today, the cities are still extremely dirty but new manufacturing and the advancement of industrialization has greatly improved working and living conditions in urban environments. Equality has been a hard fought battle, and everyone for the most part shares common rights and abilities. However, it is obvious the difference between the movie stars, celebrities, professional athletes, etc. and the rest of America. In this sense, less people today I believe are considered disenfranchised, but there are still those who live in their own “valley of ashes”.

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Mary Sine
4/23/2013 06:21:14 pm

The shifting moral code of the 1920s is paralleled by the moral code of today. In the 1920s the roles of people were changing, especially the roles of women as they gained more independence and suffrage in 1920. Morals were also changing, especially due to Prohibition and the rise of organized crime. Fashion and popular culture changed as well and reflected the looser morals of the “Roaring 20s”, with popular, racy shows like Ziegfeld's Follies, and the shorter haircuts and dresses for “flappers,” young, hip women. Changes in culture and morals like this may not be as obvious or scandalous anymore in our modern society, but they are still there. Morals are looser now compared to the way they were in the past, just like what occurred in the 1920s. Clothing and fashion, especially for women, reflect these looser morals, with the popularity of shorter clothing and less clothing in general. The country now is also full of opposite ideas and extreme differences in opinions and morals, just like it was in the 1920s. There were rural, more conservative people who were appalled by the looser morals, dress code, and the insane amount of drinking, while people in the cities were more liberal in the 1920s, and the same can be said for modern times.

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Hannah H
4/23/2013 06:27:02 pm

Mary, I completely agree. I loved how you brought in the oppinions of the "rural" people verses the city folk, I over looked that detail. Good job describing the parallels between the two.

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Hannah H
4/23/2013 06:24:05 pm

• How does the shifting moral code of the 1920s compare to today's moral code?
• I believe the moral code of today society mirrors the shifting moral code of the 1920’s. The “Roaring Twenties” presented its self as a time to find happiness and pleasure, in any way possible, particularly in breaking tradition and common moral standards. Women became more independent; drugs, alcohol, and material goods became the focus of society. "On weekends his Rolls Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight. " (pg. 41) As we see in the novel, marriages like Daisy’s and Tom’s lost value in the chaos of finding pleasure. In today’s society we see traditional values such as one man one women marriage challenged. We see laws being submitted arguing for the right to legalize marijuana. People are continuing to put their time and energy into material goods hoping to find pleasure and happiness.

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Hannah H
4/23/2013 06:43:28 pm

• What is your conception of the American dream, and how does it differ from the conception that Fitzgerald seems to be presenting in the novel?
To me the American dream is the desire and ability of people reaching their goals; the ability to achieve whatever they want to, the ability to work hard for whatever they want and to be happy and satisfied with the goals they have reached (or have the opportunity to reach higher goals.) Fitzgerald seems to be criticizing the common conception that the American dream is the ability to get rich, put on big parties, own lots of cars and a big mansion, and court many women. He uses characterization to point out that all these things that some people call the “American dream” don’t make ANY of his characters happy or allow them to feel satisfied with themselves and where they are at in society. He paints a picture of an on going search that characters like Tom and Gatsby have to take to even find a woman that can make them happy. Though both have money, social standings, well attended parties and Tom even has a wife, neither are fulfilled with the material things and are still on the search for the “thing” that will fulfill them.

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Jacob Jones
4/25/2013 09:01:23 pm

I agree with your idea of the American dream, "that is the desire and ability of people reaching their goals; the ability to achieve whatever they want to, so that you can be happy."

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Mary Sine
4/23/2013 06:58:23 pm

According to Fitzgerald, America's disenfranchised are the poor which probably comprises most of the minority groups and immigrants during that time. Their quality of life was improved because of the economic boom of the 1920s but they still don't have any voice or power, compared to the very rich of the time. Mr. Wilson and the other inhabitants of the ash heaps are Fitzgerald's direct examples of America's disenfranchised. Tom manipulates and does his best to control Mr. Wilson, which could be considered a metaphor for how the rich of the time tried to control and remove the voice of disenfranchised. Women could also be considered part of the disenfranchised because throughout the novel, even though they are more independent, they are still all controlled or allow themselves to be controlled and manipulated by men. Women gained suffrage in 1920, but they still could have been considered disenfranchised during the time, due to the still very sexist world that was controlled by men. Minorities have gained more of a voice and more power in the government, but there are still many poor, disenfranchised people out there. With internet, and other inventions that improved communication and the enabled the easy and quick sharing of information throughout the world, many people have more of a voice than they would have had in the past. However, there are still many out there who don't have a voice. There are still disenfranchised people, and in our imperfect human society, there might always be people who are disenfranchised.

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Megan Wall
4/24/2013 06:28:54 am

I think of the shift in the moral code during the 1920s as something that is comparable to a water dam. Imagine there is a flood and the waters push against the dam and create a trickle through the dam, suddenly the whole dam bursts and everything is flooded. In the same way, once morals are compromised it leads to a total breakdown in the whole system. For example, in the story we see Nick and Tom both having intentions to flee the scene of a crime instead of stopping to help out. Chapter three, page 55, offers the second offence of Nick seen fleeing from a high-stress situation. He fled this time from the scene of the car crash outside of Gatsby’s house, “The caterwauling horns had reached a crescendo and I turned away and cut across the lawn toward home. I glanced back once.” Nick could have easily stopped and tried to help the situation. Switching our focus over to Tom, in chapter seven he has no intention of stopping to help at the scene of a car wreck, until he realizes it could potentially affect him. We know his intentions because of the following sentences, “He slowed down, but still without any intention of stopping, until as we came nearer, the hushed, intent faces of the people at the garage door made him automatically put on the brakes” (137). With a lack of caring, such as Nick and Tom exhibited, comes a lack of responsibility, because there is nothing to burden ourselves with, which then results in a deficiency of accountability, because if we have no responsibilities we do not have to be held accountable for what took place. This cycle of apathy has continued on today and has infected most people’s lives, notoriously the lives of teenagers. Before the 20s people, kids in particular, we held to a high moral standard, but after the 1920s evolved the moral code forever, it has been steadily deteriorating.

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Megan Wall
4/24/2013 06:56:04 am

Fitzgerald characterizes the disenfranchised of the 1920s as people surrounded by poverty in the “valley of ashes” that people better off than they were did not want to look at or notice. After he implies that it is an uncomfortable eye sore for everyone to look upon he writes, “…the passengers on waiting trains can stare at the dismal scene for as long as half an hour. There is always a halt there of at least a minute…” (Chapter 2, page 23). The diction he uses in the former statement, “there is ALWAYS a halt there…” seems to suggest that it is a forced action, as if as soon as it stops people do not want to see the poverty, but are always drawn to it. Before I moved here this year I was in the city of Columbus, GA, which had a lot of pockets in it very similar to the one described by Fitzgerald. To be honest, when I drove through “those” parts of town that are referred to as “the ghetto” it was hard for me to look at, because I did not want to acknowledge that people still lived like that today. Sometimes, it felt as if I had been transported to a third world country. It is true that for some living conditions have improved and it is easier, to an extent, for those in poverty to sort of “blend in” because they can buy cars and clothes most of the time so that nothing seems out of the ordinary, but I do not want to say with a false naivety that these places do not still exist today, or that they are not as big of an issue in today’s more “advanced” time.

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Celeste Yahr
4/24/2013 09:02:53 pm

I believe that the American Dream is different to everyone. The stereotypical "American Dream" is the one that Fitzgerald is describing. It says that money and material things will make you happy and that is the dream. However as he proves that is simply not the case every person in the book who meets the dream by society standards is unhappy and somewhat bitter. One way to see this is through Daisy "You see I think everything's terrible anyhow." she went on in a convinced way. "Everybody thinks so- the most advanced people. And I know. I've been everywhere and see everything and done everything." Her eyes flashed around her in a defiant way, rather like Tom's, and she laughed with thrilling scorn, "Sophisticated-God, I'm Sophisticated!" (pg 18) Daisy says it out right that everything is terrible and she has money she has a husband (unfaithful, but a husband). I think that the American Dream is being happy but not in a superficial way and being surrounded by people that love you everyday of your life.

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Jacob Jones
4/25/2013 08:56:54 pm

I agree with your interpretation of the American dream, and that Fitzgerald is describing it by saying that money and material things will make you happy.

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Celeste Yahr
4/24/2013 09:19:02 pm

The moral code in the 1920 is very similar to today's moral code. In the twenties many woman were braking out of their shells and become independent woman. They started to cut their hair short and have higher jobs or more skilled jobs, such as Jordan Baker. Also we see this in woman in Myrtle as she is having an affair. People also began marrying for money and not for love. I see this a lot in today's time with younger woman marrying older men with lots of money so that they can get it when he dies. Marriage is more of where it can get you and how fast can you get there then the romance of it all.

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Jacob Jones
4/25/2013 08:53:23 pm

Gatsby is a mysterious character in the beginning of the novel because he does not have much of a role in the first three chapters. The reader just hears about his parties that he throws every week at his mansion. Also in the begging of the novel Gatsby’s background and the source of his wealth is a mystery. I think that Gatsby money came from illegal operations, like selling alcohol during prohibition. During the time that the novel takes place, the sale of alcohol was illegal. Gatsby seems willing to do anything to get what he wants.

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Jacob Jones
4/25/2013 08:53:47 pm

My conception of the American dream is to be able to do whatever one wants to. By this I mean, freedom enables one to set goals in life and achieve them by hard work. The American dream is to own a nice home and other possessions. The freedom to own and achieve whatever one desires. It is the dream of every American to run his life through the basics freedom of the Declaration of Independence: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The dream is happiness however finds it. This is different from Fitzgerald, by needing the best of everything for show, but never really finding happiness.

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Emily
4/30/2013 04:07:07 pm

What have you learned about Gatsby's character, and how do you think he gained his millions?

What I have learned about Gatsby's character is that he does all her does to get Daisy's attention. He probably wouldn't even have tried so hard to get all of his money if it weren't for her. He doesn't really seem to care much about his stuff unless he's using it to impress her. I think he made all of his millions by illegally selling alcohol.

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Emily
4/30/2013 04:19:24 pm

What is your conception of the American dream, and how does it differ from the conception that Fitzgerald seems to be presenting in the novel?

My conception of the American dream is being incredibly successful, having everything you need and most of the things you want, with the perfect family and house and job. The version Fitzgerald shows is more depressing. It shows that all of the money and the things don't actually make you happy, and it might even make it worse. The people with less are closer knit, and literally can't afford to go off having affairs with other people or to go do things without each other, so in that aspect, they're happier than the people living the so-called "American Dream."

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Lacayah
4/30/2013 08:54:28 pm

I agree. I like how you used the subject of the lives of the disenfranchised families and how they're happier in order to highlight the faults of the common "American Dream."

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Lacayah
4/30/2013 08:34:53 pm

What have you learned about Gatsby's character, and how do you think he gained his millions?
I think he's into something shady. He claims to have inherited his millions. However, he never goes into much detail about it. He also has many other far fetched stories about his past. I think, because he only wants the money in order to impress Daisy, he probably didn't get it from making an honest living. I think he's doing something illegal in order to get large sums of money quickly.

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Lacayah
4/30/2013 08:50:09 pm

What is your conception of the American dream, and how does it differ from the conception that Fitzgerald seems to be presenting in the novel?
My concept of the American dream is when one can live peacefully making a comfortable living, has a happy family, is always in good health, is always safe, and just all around wealthy. My concept always includes sunny skies. Although Fitzgerald includes this concept within his, it's far from the same. Fitzgerald highlights how superficial the common concept of the American dream is. He shows how shallow and constantly unsatisfied the people who pursue it are. For example, Tom wants just wants to be the rich guy and to constantly be on top of the world. This leads to his traveling and his unfaithfulness because he is always seeking something better than what he has -- something that looks better, or feels better, or that he just doesn't already have. Daisy just wants to have the little family with a handsome husband and a big house on the beach. However, even though she has that, she still feels empty because she knows that something is missing from her life. She even hints that she sometimes wishes that she was "foolish" in order to be oblivous to the lower layers of life. Also, Gatsby just wants to be with the love of his life (or at least the image that he has of her) and put her up on a pedastil and live happily and wealthily ever after. However, he never talks about Daisy in a deeper way than the way he SEES her. He doesn't take into consideration her daughter and the life she would be abandoning or the conflict that it's causing in her life. He just sees that he likes her, cares about her, and wants to have her, which is all superficial. Throughout the book, Fitzgerald shows readers the faults in the overall ideals of the American dream.

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Trevor
5/13/2013 07:55:21 pm

I think the American Dream is the freedom people have to achieve and strive for what ever they want. Fitzgerald in the novel points out that societies interpretation of the American Dream does not necessarily make you happy. He describes the dream as never being fully achieved, that people are constantly trying to reach it. It occupies many people but few reach the goals and happiness commonly associated with the dream.

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