Explain how The Great Gatsby is an example of the Modernist novel, and, therefore, how it stands as a refutation of older, more traditional ideas.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is a Modernist novel in that it searches for meaning during the breakdown of traditional values in the era following WW I. Gatsby refutes many traditional values, but the most important value that is both questioned and deconstructed is the traditional ideal of the American Dream.
In general, the American Dream is the idea that any American citizen, no matter how poor, can achieve success and happiness if he or she simply works hard enough. Jay Gatsby initially ascribes to this idea, clawing his way out of poverty (often through illegal means) in order to gain respect, material wealth, and, most importantly, the love of Daisy. However, while Gatsby initially seems successful, his efforts ultimately prove to be meaningless: Daisy refuses to leave her husband Tom, Gatsby is murdered in a pool, and almost no one comes to his funeral. In writing such a story, Fitzgerald points out the hollow nature of the American Dream, as he suggests that Gatsby's hard work did not, in fact, provide true happiness. This idea is remarkably Modernist, as it suggests that a core American tradition is, at its heart, meaningless.