Discuss why the theme of "Money can't buy happiness" in The Great Gatsby makes it a great piece of American fiction. Please answer in detail and with quotes.

Expert Answers info

Colin Cavendish-Jones, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Professor, Lawyer

bookM.A. from Oxford University

bookPh.D. from St. Andrews University


calendarEducator since 2019

write1,011 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

It is not the theme that makes a great work of fiction but the way the theme is handled. Anyone could write a work with the message that money cannot buy happiness. Only F. Scott Fitzgerald can show the squalid, empty lives of the rich in such a way as to make us feel it and draw the conclusion for ourselves.

The Great Gatsby is about unhappy people. Some of them are rich, like Gatsby and the Buchanans. Some are not, like the Wilsons. Nick Carraway is not rich but hopes to become rich in the bond business. Nick seems to think at the beginning of the book that he will find joy in making money. He describes his bond books as golden treasure:

I bought a dozen volumes on banking and credit and investment securities and they stood on my shelf in red and gold like new money from the mint, promising to unfold the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas knew.

There is poetry in money so far as Nick is concerned. He still feels it when talking to Daisy and talking of her to Gatsby. They agree...

(The entire section contains 5 answers and 1,316 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write4,625 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write6,559 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Doug Stuva eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write1,751 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial