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Examine the theme of social ties in this novel and its relationship to the American Dream.

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sosan_sam | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 21, 2013 at 6:39 AM via web

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Examine the theme of social ties in this novel and its relationship to the American Dream.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 21, 2013 at 9:27 AM (Answer #1)

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Social ties are shown to be an important part of the American Dream.  Gatsby's "platonic conception of self" is not purely subjective.  Gatsby does not retreat to the internal realm when seeking out his American Dream.  Rather, Gatsby ensures that his pursuit of the American Dream is public, for all to see and for all to absorb.  Gatsby is not content with seeking to define his American Dream for himself.  It must also include a social dimension.  The parties he throws, his desire to want to socially please people, and his pursuit of winning Daisy over from a social dimension are examples of how Fitzgerald links social ties to the American Dream.

It is almost as if Fitzgerald is suggesting that the pursuit of the American Dream in the 1920s had to include a social dimension.  It had to incorporate a realm in which the ties to others was just as important, if not more, than personal fulfillment.  What is worth achieving is shown to be worth more if more people recognize it was worthy. In such a realm, individual notion of the good seems to be secondary to social affirmation.  This condition is one in which Gatsby lives.  It is a condition in which he pursues his dream in front of everyone else, but must face death alone when everyone abandons him in times of difficulty.  Fitzgerald is suggesting that there is a danger to placing so much of one's dream, one's "Platonic conception of self," in the hands and eyes of others.  In such a predicament, corruptibility is not far away.

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