How is crime in the 1920s reflected in The Great Gatsby?I have read the book and I don't see how crime in the 1920s is reflected in The Great Gatsby.

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ktmagalia's profile pic

ktmagalia | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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If you haven't picked up elements of criminal behavior, you may want to read the book again more closely.  Meyer Wolfsheim is an obvious player in organized crime, and it is alluded in Fitzgerald's novel that he "fixed" the World Series (alluding to the 1919 infamous world series--see link below). This is a novel taking place during the days of Prohibition, however, it is inferred that Gatsby makes his money through illegal bootlegging. And if that isn't enough to support the criminal behavior in the novel, drunk driving, a hit and run, and murder should top it off.

teachertaylor's profile pic

teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Crime in the 1920's is not overtly stated in The Great Gatsby, but it is certainly there in the backdrop.  The character Meyer Wolfsheim with whom Gatsby does business is representative of crime.  Although not openly stated, Gatsby's involvement with Wolfsheim in illegal activities is implied later in the novel.  It is likely that Gatsby and Wolfsheim have a hand in the production and sale of alcohol (which at the time was illegal due to Prohibition) and in gambling.  In fact, when Nick meets Wolfsheim, Wolfsheim admits that he was responsible for fixing the World Series.  Gatsby's relationship with Wolfsheim makes Nick and others doubt the honesty in the acquisition of Gatsby's wealth, and Tom later accuses Gatsby of becoming wealthy through criminal business activities.  So although not at the forefront of the story, crime is represented in the novel.

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