A mother awakens to find her child s bed empty, and while this has occurred many of times before, there is a sense of permanence in the air. The father of this child comes to comfort the grieving mother, his sobbing wife, but he to allows a painful tear to fall. They have realized their only son, an adult now, has disowned his impoverished family. It is the nature of man to tire of a hackneyed life; he aspires, instead, to chase his dreams at all costs. The image is cold and shocking, and although he is depicted in the fictional story of The Great Gatsby, the intense emotions remain true to life as James Gatz leaves his family in search of his dream. The author, Fitzgerald, has characterized Gatz with possessions his entire life, from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby. Consequently, readers see Gatsby characterized through his possessions, most noticeably his house, clothes, and car.
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Gatsby s house serves as a prime example of a characteristic possession. To illustrate, it is Gatsby s house that characterizes his fanaticism and superficiality. For instance, it is the house that Gatsby is so proud to first show Daisy. The house is so superficial that it is the item used to hold Gatsby s extravagent parties of strangers, and even the books of library inside are unread and only used for an appearance s sake. Mainly, it is just a method to attract Daisy. Gatsby s fanaticism is revealed as one how hard it must be to work for and then live in such a grand home, alone. As Daisy puts it, I love it, but I don t see how you live there all alone.
Likewise, Gatsby s clothes characterize him to, but this time as gaudy and unique. As most of his possessions, Gatsby s clothes reveal his gaudiness, whether it is an act or not. The clothes of Gatsby are more importantly used to show his uniqueness and individuality among the many inhabitants of the Eggs. Unlike those in the East Egg who inherit their corrupt money, such as Daisy s husband, Tom, Gatsby has been forced into earning his and cannot deny his impecunious past. Gatsby clothes reveal this uniqueness characteristic of Gatsby as he tosses his wardrobe at Daisy during her visit. She begins to cry seeing his beautiful shirts because she realizes she could have had everything in Gatsby, a man who truly loves her and can provide for her superficial desires. Tom, on the other hand, is unlike Gatsby and cannot truly love, but who s inherited money can provide for anyone.
Whereas Gatsby s home and clothes reveal more of a monetary aspect to Gatsby, his car provides insight on his youth corrupted by money. Gatsby sporty yellow car characterizes Gatsby as still the youth no one imagines him as. His youth, corrupted by money, is apparent throughout the novel in other events such as his invitation to Nick to go and enjoy the day at Coney Island. Nonetheless, Gatsby car characterizes his gaudyness as well. In short, most, if not all, of Gatsby s possessions reveal his superficiality and gaudiness, but it is his car that reveals his youth, corrupted as it may be, and it is this vehicle that will affect the final outcome of the novel.
Jay Gatsby is characterized throughout the novel by his possessions. However, Gatsby is not to be seen as the man, but rather the child s fanatic dream. Fitzgerald clearly intends for Gatsby’s dream to be symbolic of the American Dream for wealth and youth, hence the use of characteristic possessions. Gatsby genuinely believes that if a person makes enough money and amasses a great enough fortune, he can buy anything. He thinks his wealth can erase the last five years of his and Daisy’s life and reunite them at the point at which he left her before he went away to the war. In a similar fashion, all Americans have a tendency to believe that if they have enough money, they can manipulate time, staying perpetually young, and buy their happiness through materialistic spending. Throughout the novel, there are many parties, a hallmark of the rich. But each festivity ends in waste (the trash left behind by the guests) or violence (Myrtle’s broken nose and subsequent accidental death). Between the wealth of New York City and the fashionable Egg Islands lies the Valley of Ashes, the symbol of the waste and corruption that characterizes the wealthy. When Gatsby’s dream is crushed by Daisy’s refusal to forget the past or deny that she has ever loved Tom, Fitzgerald is stating that the American Dream of wealth and beauty is just as fragile. History has proven that view correct. The sense of wonder of the first settlers in America quickly turned into an excessive greed for more wealth. The reality of the stock market crash and the Great Depression of the 1930s followed the ostentatious, wild lifestyle of the wealthy during the 1920s. Where there is great wealth, sadness and waste always seems to follow. The end product is always a valley of ashes.