The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Alcohol In The Great Gatsby

In The Great Gatsby, how does alcohol influence the characters?

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Hollis Sanders eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Alcohol is a central symbol in The Great Gatsby. Through it, the reader can see the importance of appearances over truth in the minds of the central characters.

It is important to understand that The Great Gatsby takes place during the prohibition era. During this time, the production and sale of alcohol was illegal in the United States. However, the laws made no mention of owning or consuming it. Regardless of where the alcohol came from, it was incredibly popular, lending credence to the idea that banning something only makes people want it more.

Over the course of the story, everyone drinks heavily and often, but it is considered unseemly to question where the substance might be coming from. The Buchanan family prides themselves on being made of "old money." They consider their class to be valuable beyond their financial means, because they inherited their wealth. Because of this, they consider Gatsby to be an upstart. Rumors circulate about where Gatsby may have acquired his fortune, and a...

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mwestwood, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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