What breakdowns of social norms are found in The Great Gatsby?  

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are at least three breakdowns of social norms in The Great Gatsby. Most conspicuous is all the heavy drinking, including overindulgence by women. Drinking was especially sinful at the time because Prohibition was the law of the land. There is some hinting at sexual promiscuity, but the only flagrant examples are Tom's affair with the woman who is married to the gas-station operator and Gatsby's affair with Tom's wife Daisy. Another breakdown of social norms is seen in Gatsby himself, who is undoubtedly involved in a number of different felonious enterprises, including dealing in alcohol. People come to his big parties in droves and drink his liquor without having any qualms about breaking the law and being hosted by a gangster. Many of Gatsby's guests are prominent citizens, including judges and legislators. The lavish parties are the most prominent symbol of the breakdown of social norms in America during the Jazz Age.


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