How did Fitzgerald use certain motifs and themes to help The Great Gatsby transcend the ordinary and become what is popularly called The Great American Novel? I think Fitzgerald warns readers about...

How did Fitzgerald use certain motifs and themes to help The Great Gatsby transcend the ordinary and become what is popularly called The Great American Novel? I think Fitzgerald warns readers about the dangers of materialism and wealth in the novel.I'm just unsure of how he used symbols and motifs to do it. One thing I thought was important as a symbol was the directions east and west in the novel but I don't know how to tie that into what the question is asking.

Asked on by kayanie

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The theme of materialism and wealth is one that is certainly evident in this novel through the wild, lavish parties that Gatsby throws that are introduced to the reader for the first time in Chapter Three. What is important to note about these parties however is the complete superficiality of the relationships of the people who go to them. When Nick finally receives an invitation to go, hardly anybody actually seems to know who their host is, and they are all there to enjoy the free alcohol and music. Rumours abound about their mysterious host, and it appears above all else that although Gatsby is able to throw these parties, he is not able to be accepted into the ranks of the rich because of his sudden rise to wealth and prominence. This is highlighted through Daisy and how Gatsby describes her:

"Her voice is full of money," he said suddenly.

That was it. I'd never understood before. It was full of money--hat was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals' song of it… high in a white palace the king's daughter, the golden girl.

Daisy is born rich, and this is conveyed through the sound of her voice, which makes her instinctively one of the elite ranks of wealthy Americans. Gatsby, by contrast, is trying to buy his way into her world, but because it is not genetic for him, this is a mission that he will not be able to achieve. The novel thus demonstrates the vain attempt to remake oneself using money, and how one man destroys himself trying to do this.

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