In December of 1945, General George Patton died in a hospital bed in Germany. At his funeral, his longtime friend Dwight Eisenhower remarked that ?He was the genuine article, a man who not only knew who he was, he loved who he was. He fought for what was right, and he fought hard. He was the classic soldier.? Ike alluded to the classic soldier in his eulogy to illustrate an important point. He wanted everyone to know that Patton was the type of soldier who never faded away; he was that rare breed of warrior who was the same throughout time. But there are few things in life that can transcend time and place. Excellence becomes pass?, passion fades, and life itself is ephemeral, a fleeting moment in the ceaseless march of time. The true testament to durability and greatness that humanity has to offer comes in one form; the classic. Whether a novel, an aria, a statue or a mind, the classic is the language of brilliance. F. Scott Fitzgerald?s novel ?The Great Gatsby? can easily be dubbed a classic, as it has stood the test of time. The staying power of Fitzgerald?s words comes not in their ease of understanding or flow, but rather in their collective and constant truth. These qualities make it a true classic in all forms.
Fitzgerald makes it eminently clear that materialism and greed are corruptors of humanity, and that they are the paths to misery. The rampant avarice that pervades the Long Island air in Gatsby corrupts all it touches, like a heavy, noxious fog hanging over the story. Aside from Nick Carroway, all participants in the tragic tale are madly in love with money. The Buchanons are only interested in the acquisition of wealth, albeit for different reasons. Daisy Buchanon seems to love money simply because it has dominated her life. She has known nothing but opulence and splendor her entire life, and that splendor replaced family, belief, and love. Although her lineage is purebred wealth and she herself is ?old money?, she is false. She is a fa?ade of a woman, of the money, by the money and for the money. Gatsby himself remarks that her voice is ??full of money, old sport.? Her greed could never be satiated; it only grew as she amassed more. Her husband was the same, perhaps worse. Tom Buchanon was a shallow, bitter, and petulant man who loved himself nearly as much as he loved his money. Borne into an affluent family, Tom doesn?t know hard work or sacrifice. Although employed in the stock market, Tom was only mediocre at his work, getting by on his name and hefty inheritance. Tom feels only entitlement in all aspects of his life, the worst form of materialism. He needn?t work hard or well, because he was entitled to the fortune he inherited. He also was entitled to act as he pleased, in private and social life. Tom?s infidelity to Daisy could not be more blatant. He has a nearly open affair with Myrtle Wilson, wife of the local auto mechanic. He doesn?t love her, she is merely another item in his collection of pretty possessions to show off. Tom?s materialism extended beyond acceptable bounds, he wanted to posses human beings themselves. His version of possession was far worse than even slavery, because Tom controlled Myrtle heart, soul, and body. Daisy calls her his bitch, which is quite a propos, she is nothing more than a dog to him. Fitzgerald chose these characteristics wisely, because greed has been one of the driving forces in human nature. Avarice has always driven man to great lengths and even greater depths than previously thought possible. Greed is ever present in humanity, and Fitzgerald reflects this in the novel. Thus ?Gatsby? would be a classic if only because of its transcendental incidences of greed.
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Fitzgerald, however, extends the broad truths of Gatsby with the dream chasing of its main character. Jay loves, or at least has made himself believe he loves, Daisy. The passing memories of youthful love are etched into his mind, and their ardor never dissipated. Nothing could stand in the way of his dream of being with Daisy once again, despite the fact that she is a married mother. The relentless pursuit of his dream brings him up from poverty, through the ranks of the military, and finally to the expansive mansion he has in West Egg. But Gatsby?s hunt for his past can never be quite complete, at least not by himself. He becomes inordinately wealthy and buys a house less than a mile from Daisy, and yet he never goes to her. Instead, he can only stand on his balcony, arms outstretched toward the taunting green light of the Buchanon?s dock. ?I think he half expected her to wander into one of his parties, some night.? (84) Jordan Baker remarks, revealing the truth about Jay?s chase for Daisy. He simply couldn?t bring himself to see or meet her. Certainly a fear of confronting his past, of finally meeting his goal would have prompted some recalcitrance on Gatsby?s part, and yet he still would have gone through with it, if only to achieve closure. It is only via Nick, Daisy?s cousin, that Gatsby finally is able to meet with his past. Soon after, they all get together, rather awkwardly. The confrontation between old love and husband ensues, with tragedy in tow. ?Not seeing, no we couldn?t meet. But both of us loved each other all that time, old sport, and you didn?t know.? (138) In this statement, directed to Daisy?s husband, Gatsby speaks of the span of five years when Daisy and Gatsby were unable to see each other. Jay still believes he can buy Daisy, and he comes quite close. But the currency to buy Daisy is a wealthy lineage that even the deepest of Gatsby?s coffers could not purchase. She refuses him, and the intangible green light that had drawn him so far dimmed into darkness.