How accurate is The Great Gatsby in its reflection of the early 1920s and Fitzgerald's own experiences/attitudes? Essay help for a student. Thanks!
I think that there might be a fundamental fear or challenge in using literature to teach about a particular time period. I would not possess this in using Fitzgerald's work to teach about the 1920s. Simply put, I think that Fitzgerald's framing of the decade helps it to be seen in a very compelling and thoughtful light. The manner in which Fitzgerald constructs "the flapper era" in the Buchanans and in Jordan Baker helps to explain how so much greed and self interested dominated the time period. When Fitzgerald describes how these individuals "destroyed" everything and then retreated back into their "worlds of wealth" as a response, it helps to explain how lack of vigilance and government regulation ensured that each supposed step of historical progress led to future destruction. Fitzgerald's characterization of individuals as people who only thought of the present and failed to see past anything else brings to light how disastrous financial practices were beyond risky, almost guaranteeing the reality of the Crash of '29 and the depression that followed. In the end, the construction of the world that Nick and Gatsby observe are domains where there is almost a roar of deafening silence. In the end, this hollowness is brought out vividly by Fitzgerald. In this light, I think that the work can serve as a good historical guide to the time period and to the historical analysis of it.