A group of parents want to ban The Great Gatsby because they feel it promotes anti-Christian values. Craft a response which argues that the book has value for all students.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Great Gatsby does not promote Christian values per se: in fact, the issue of Christianity only comes up peripherally in the book. However, many of the moral values encouraged in the book are congruent with Christian values.

The book, for example, can be read as a critique of unchristian...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The Great Gatsby does not promote Christian values per se: in fact, the issue of Christianity only comes up peripherally in the book. However, many of the moral values encouraged in the book are congruent with Christian values.

The book, for example, can be read as a critique of unchristian living in not being charitable towards one neighbor and in putting money ahead of people. Tom and Daisy, for example, show the wreckage the rich can cause when they are careless of human life.

Tom takes advantage of Myrtle's poverty to have an affair with her, trading what his money can offer, such as an apartment in New York, clothes, and a puppy, for sex with her. Yet he treats her callously, for example by "breaking" or hitting her nose when she says things he does not like. Tom is also dismissive of her husband, George, stringing him along with the idea that he will sell him a car, while he is only using that as a ruse to see Myrtle. Tom lies to George, telling him that Gatsby's car is his own, and then directs him to shoot Gatsby as the one responsible for Myrtle's death when he knows it is Daisy who ran her over.

For Tom, the "little people" are tools to be used, not full humans. This runs counter to the Christian ideal that one should love one's neighbor as oneself, regardless of their social position. In fact, the entire valley of the ashes can be read as Fitzgerald's indictment of an unchristian American society in which the wealthy live in comfort at the expense of the poor.

It could also be argued that the infidelities in the book come to a bad end. Christianity teaches faithfulness to one's spouse, and the book shows the disasters that can occur when adultery begins. Things end badly for Gatsby for getting involved with the married Daisy—he cannot set back the clock and start over—and for Tom for sleeping with Myrtle. In the end, while Daisy and Tom seem to escape punishment, Nick feels contempt for them and describes them as "foul dust": these selfish, unchristian people are not portrayed as admirable human beings.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on