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How is Jay Gatsby affected by materialism in The Great Gatsby?

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meyou4114 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted November 25, 2012 at 2:18 PM via web

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How is Jay Gatsby affected by materialism in The Great Gatsby?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 25, 2012 at 4:48 PM (Answer #1)

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Jay Gatsby was born poor and so had no social status to show off. Daisy, the woman he loves, was born wealthy, and so their social classes did not mingle very much; Gatsby aspired to win Daisy through his status and so had to work hard to create his own wealth. Despite this, she marries someone else, and Gatsby becomes obsessed with the idea that he can win her away with little more than his wealth and new social status in the community.

"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"

He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.

"I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before," he said, nodding determinedly. "She'll see."
(Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, mrbye.com)

In Gatsby's eyes, the barrier between himself and Daisy is one of status and wealth, not of character or personality. He believes that she will come to love him again as he is accepted by her peers, and so he throws large parties and ingratiates himself with the Old Money society of the East Egg. However, since Daisy already has money and is married to Tom, another wealthy man, she is not as easily swayed by Gatsby's attentions. He finally fails because he was focused too much on buying Daisy's love, instead of earning it; Gatsby is too focused on becoming the sort of wealthy man Daisy attracts rather than becoming the character of man to whom Daisy is attracted.

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