What is the significance of the shirts?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Gatsby is an example of the nouveau riche. He lives in a mansion, squanders money on entertainment, and buys gaudy possessions such as that enormous yellow roadster which ends up killing a woman and costing his own life. Showing off his collection of expensive shirts is in bad taste characteristic of the nouveau riche. Daisy realizes this. It makes her cry to see with what naivete Gatsby is trying to impress her and to win her. She is a representative of a different class, a class to which Gatsby can only aspire to belong. She represents "old money," and it is at least partly her upper-class status, manners, and connections that make her so attractive to Gatsby. He has no background, and his connections are people like vulgar Meyer Wolfsheim. The green light that Gatsby often stands staring at in the distance is another symbol of the unbridgeable chasm that exists between him and the upper class. Poor Gatsby would beĀ  described as a bounder by the privileged people in England and as an arriviste by the same types in France. The masses in America still admire the social elite, but not nearly as much as they did in the 1920s, when every newspaper had a "society page" and everybody read about the activities of the leisure class. Now it is the movie stars who have stolen that luster. The Wall Street Crash, the Great Depression, and the New Deal changed things permanently.


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