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In terms of imagery, there are many allusions to the American dream, one of which is Gatsby's longing look at the green light at the end of Daisy's pier. The ride of Nick with Gatsby in his mythological car, creates an impression of passage into the American dream as Gatsby reviews his past:
.....He [Gatsby] was continually breaking through his punctilious manner in the shape of restlessness....Sitting down behind many layers of glass in a sort of green leather conservatory we started to town....With fenders spread like wings we scattered light through half Astoria--only half, for as we twisted among the pillars of the elevated I heard...a frantic policeman...
Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flcker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money.
George's American Dream is very simple: he wants to own his own shop, make a decent living, and live happily with his wife. Unfortunately, his shop is located in the valley of ashes and will never be productive. His wife has been discontent since their wedding day (remember her disillusionment with his borrowed suit), and he's just found out she's having an affair. George's American Dream turns, literally, to ashes.
Tom's American Dream, apparently is to live whatever life he chooses while still maintaining the facade of a marriage. Oh yes, and he'dobviously prefer a world in which black people stayed in their place (as expressed by his enthusiasm for Goddard's book). His American Dream isn't a particularly pleasant one for anyone but him.
Daisy, Tom, and most probably Jordan have achieved the American Dream. Daisy and Jordan sit on the divan and wonder what other people plan. They have no plans because they are at the top. They have no dreams, desires, or goals. Daisy and Tom have tremendous wealth--a beautiful house, horses in the stable, cars, servants, and loads of free time. I think it interesting that Daisy and Jordan are presented exactly the same way in Chapter 1 as they are in Chapter 7 laying "on an enormous couch, like silver idols, weighing down their own white dresses against the singing breeze of the fan." And, Daisy is still wondering what to do with herself "this afternoon . . .and the day after that, and the next thirty years."
Gatsby has the largest dream, but an impossible one. He wants the wealth of the Buchanans, which he has achieved, but he also wants to turn back time and start anew with Daisy. This desire for eternal youth and second chances is typically American.
George has the more traditional American Dream: a home, a family,a wife who loves him, a steady job. He doesn't dream big, and it seems as if he is not asking for too much, but even his small and worthwhile goals are unfulfilled.
Fitzgerald's aim in The Great Gatsby is to present how the essential ideas of the American dream have been overshadowed by adopting materialism as its main tenet. Through the lives of the Buchanans, Nick, and Gatsby, Fitzgerald works to show that an emphasis on the materialistic part of the American Dream leads to disillusionment and unhappiness.
One specific example of this show of wealth is at the beginning of chapter seven, when Nick makes an allusion: "It was when curiosity about Gatsby was at its highest that the lights in his house failed to go on one Saturday night - and, as obscurely as it had begun, his career as Trimalchio was over. Only gradually did I become aware that the automobiles which turned expectantly into his drive stayed for a minute and then drove sulkily away." Gatsby's parties have come to an end, and so have the expectations of the other characters. Trimalchio is a character created by the Roman Petronius in which Trimalchio rises from "rags to riches," but then fails due to the ostentation of his success.
Despite Gatsby's failure in his career in playing the lavish host, Gatsby is so much more in characterization than a "Trimalchio" because he is still dedicated to his dream, even after the journey toward it no longer includes Daisy. In answer to the posed question, Daisy, Tom, George, and Jordan, would be considered the Trimalchios of the story, as their American dreams are consistently invested in the materialistic.
Whenever you feel like criticizing any one...just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
People took advatage of the American Dream
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