Do you agree with Nick's final assertion that Gatsby is "worth the whole damn bunch put together" in The Great Gatsby? Why or why not?

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Your response to this question would be based on your own opinion, which should be substantiated with textual support.

You could argue that Gatsby is, indeed, a better man than the Buchanans (who represent "old money")—Gatsby is an upstart who started off as a poor, Midwestern farm boy but created...

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Your response to this question would be based on your own opinion, which should be substantiated with textual support.

You could argue that Gatsby is, indeed, a better man than the Buchanans (who represent "old money")—Gatsby is an upstart who started off as a poor, Midwestern farm boy but created an immense fortune as a result of going into bootlegging with Meyer Wolfsheim.

The previous educator overlooks some key things in Fitzgerald's very astute study of Gatsby's rise to power. Jay Gatsby is born as James Gatz (some scholars argue that it is a Semitic surname and that Gatsby changes it to avoid association with his Jewish identity and to fit in with people like the Buchanans).

Gatsby is a presented as a "self-made man"—an idealized figure in American myth. The self-made man is adventurous, shrewd, and relentless in going after what he wants. Gatsby has all of these qualities and demonstrates them from his youth. When his father shows up at the funeral, he shows Nick Carraway his son's diary, which mirrors that of the young Benjamin Franklin. Like the nation's forefather, Gatsby followed a strictly regimented schedule and asserted his ambition early on.

During the war, he took advantage of his time in Europe to study at Oxford. This decision provided him with both education and cultivation and allowed him to reinvent himself before returning to the United States. He then become involved in bootlegging when he came home; he and Meyer—men who would have otherwise been excluded from the upper echelons of New York due to class discrimination and anti-Semitism—made a fortune off of the nation's hypocrisy and ample appetite for alcohol.

Carraway's statement embraces both Gatsby's hard work as well as the sense that he acquired his wealth through his own industry and tenacity, while Daisy and Tom maintain their money and position as a result of exploiting other people. One could contrast Nick's quote about Gatsby with what he says about the Buchanans. To paraphrase: they go around smashing up things and people then simply retreat into their money.

Gatsby is one of the people who gets "smashed up" because he doesn't have the social prestige, the awareness (the previous educator is right about his senseless pursuit of Daisy, which is more about winning her as a trophy than loving her), or the sense of security to protect himself from the pressures of class consciousness.

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Nick Carraway seems to exist mainly to admire Gatsby, so it comes as no surprise that he should conclude with the assessment that Gatsby is "worth the whole damned bunch put together." Gatsby wouldn't have to be worth too much to be worth more than Tom and Daisy, who are a couple of parasites. Gatsby at least achieved success by his own talents and efforts. He is, however, a high-class crook. Fitzgerald doesn't give much information about how he made his fortune, but we know that most of the really successful bootleggers were thugs. Gatsby could have had people murdered. It is hard to accept a successful bootlegger who lives like a playboy and calls people "old sport." Fitzgerald was a very talented writer, but he was young and didn't know much about the underworld. Gatsby seems to have been making a lot of money just on his charm. good looks, and expensive wardrobe. He is probably better than a lot of the wealthy types Fitzgerald knew in the 1920s, but I don't consider him heroic. He threw his money away on worthless people and had a schoolboy fixation on a married woman who was an airhead. Readers might get a different impression of the "great" Gatsby if they didn't have Nick constantly explaining how "great" he was.

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