I have to choose one of the two arguments: Gatsby is innocent but gets corrupted by society OR Gatsby is innocent and becomes corrupted by society. I have to write an essay and I really need help....

I have to choose one of the two arguments: Gatsby is innocent but gets corrupted by society OR Gatsby is innocent and becomes corrupted by society. 

I have to write an essay and I really need help. Can you please give me your opinion and some supporting evidence? Anything would help.Thanks :)

Expert Answers
ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jimmy Gatz was the son of hard working but poor parents.  He was a normal child, but he was a dreamer.  I don't believe anyone is born bad.  Jay had dreams, and when he was in Minnesota, enrolled at a small college, he meets Dan Cody.  Dan takes him under his wing and when Dan dies Gatsby decides to become a new person. Jay goes off to the army, he eventually changes his name to something he finds more dignified.  You can read about his youth and his reinvention of himself in chapter 8.  As well, in chapter 9, Gatsby's father arrives and shows Nick the book that "Jimmy" had written his “general resolves.”  This is not the writing of a bad child.

You might mention that Prohibition created the opportunity for quick money.  The wealthy class is morally corrupt in The Great Gatsby, and Jay Gatsby took advantage of a situation to become rich quickly so that he could obtain his American Dream.  He wanted to be rich enough to recapture his youth with the woman he fell in love with. 

I don't even believe Jay was corrupt.  He did get involved with people who were working outside the legal statutes of that time, but I don't think that made him bad.  Jay wanted what everyone else during the Roaring Twenties wanted.  He wanted the brass ring and he wanted the woman he loved.  Did he go about it the right way? No, he probably didn't, however does that make him corrupt as a human being.  In my opinion, no it doesn't.

"Inherent in this dream, however, was the possibility of giving in to temptation and to corrupt get-rich-quick schemes like bootlegging and gambling. Fitzgerald's book mirrors the headiness, ambition, despair, and disillusionment of America in the 1920s: its ideals lost behind the trappings of class and material success."

The provide links will give you more specific information and excellent resources for your essay.


e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The difference between these two statements rests in whether or not Gatsby maintains his innocence during his criminal rise to wealth and power...

The fact that Gatsby has committed crimes in order to achieve his status yet still harbors the dream of re-uniting with Daisy, the love of his youth, suggests that there is innocence in him to the end. His corruption is not so deep as to tarnish his final view of himself.

Looking at Gatsby's own self-image does not prove that he isn't corrupted completely, in my opinion, even if that self-image depicts a harmless, charming man dedicated to reclaiming true love. What it means is that he is able to resist an accurate view of himself. His will to be one, simple, pure thing is so strong that nothing he ever does can challenge it or even complicate it.

Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

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