Consider the references to people in literature or history in Chapter 1. What purposes do they serve?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The references in chapter 1 seem to enhance the idea of protection of wealth and the empowerment of the elite. I draw specific mention from Tom's discussion of "The Rise of the Colored Empires."  Tom's attitudes seem to deride the post- Colonial struggle for independence and freedom.  This would bolster the East Egg view of the world.  Namely, that the concentration of wealth is intended to benefit the elite, "the established wealthy."  East Egg is a localized version of Colonialist powers.  "Old" traditions of money and wealth, being passed down as "legacy," are combined with a disdain for the "new money/ rich" featured in West Egg.  If one substitutes wealth for freedom, it bears striking similarity to how empire nations viewed post colonial independence.  Nations such as Britain and France, seeing themselves as "old freedom" or "old money" in "East Egg", looked at independence in nations of South America, Africa, and Asia with a sense of scorn and dismissiveness.  These emerging nations can be seen as "West Egg" nations.  The protection and consolidation and wealth in the novel and the protection and consolidation of freedom in Colonialist history bear striking similarities.  Perhaps, Fitzgerald is trying to assert a link between the dangerous, and yet, realistic condition  of elitism in both society and government.

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The Great Gatsby

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