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What metaphor does Fitzgerald use to convey the theme of hollowness in the upper class?

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trisha0815 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted July 22, 2009 at 3:29 AM via web

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What metaphor does Fitzgerald use to convey the theme of hollowness in the upper class?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 22, 2009 at 3:42 AM (Answer #1)

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There are many ways to go with this question because Fitzgerald uses many metaphors or situations that can operate as metaphors.  I think the concept of "the party" can be seen as a metaphor for the emptiness of the upper class.  If we examine the parties that are featured in the work.  These social gatherings are described in a manner that does not seem to breed sensitivity or emotional connection.  They are populated by shallow people, social butterflies, who congregate at someone else's expense, pass judgments on others and gossip to a great extent.  The wealthy individuals/ upper class at these parties are very nonchalent about their attitudes as they use the trappings of wealth and social status to insulate themselves from real suffering and concrete human connections.  At a dinner party, one is to be "polite" and "refined."  Fitzgerald takes this to a metaphorical level by showing these people using their wealth to build a protected world of privilege and elitism where everything has a price and there is a hollow shell of human contact.  It is at these parties where the worst of human character is on display, whether it is in the characters of Tom, Daisy, or Jordan.  We see the shallow and hollow spirit of the 1920s at its best in these settings.  It seems that repeated party setting and the fact that little redeeming qualities are featured by the upper class at these parties would affirm that the party is a metaphor for hollowness and a certain amount of emptiness amongst the upper class.

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