How does the symbol of class and society compare to the overall meaning as expresses in other works of literature and or in contemporary society?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would say that the question might need to experience some refinement.  Are we examining the literary theme of class and social orders at a specific point in time?  Is it located in a specific national canon of literature?  Questions such as these excluded, I wold say that Fitzgerald's symbol of class and society have a great deal of relevance to contemporary society.  The notion of a distinct "upper" class and "lower" class, of different "Eggs" and eyes that watch over both, are highly present in the modern setting.  In the last thirty years, we have seen periods similar to Fitzgerald's Jazz Age.  The 1980s was a decade focused on self interest and self absorption, where "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," was not only a television show, but rather a way of life.  Opulence and splendor ruled the decade, similar to the parties that Gatsby throws, the cattiness of Jordan, and the complete disregard to others because of wealth that Tom features. People like Ivan Boesky, Donald Trump, and Michael Milliken were revered because of their ability to make and spend money.  We saw a similar emergence in the "dot com" period of the late 1990s, where the desire to keep and make wealth resulted in "the smartest guys in the room" with Enron and Bernard Ebbers speaking to Congress as to why MCI Worldcom made billions and the shareholders failed to see a dime. Even in the most modern of settings, we can see this.  When the CEO of BP "wants his life back" and sails at a yacht race while his company spews thousands of barrels of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico, or while executives receive billions in bonus money with unemployment reaching double digits, one sees the Fitzgerald depiction of rich and poor as true.   His demonstration of wealth as a world with splendor and jaw dropping astonishment, yet built on a firmament of sand with a tide waiting to crush all of its erected monuments is one that we have seen play out time and time again.

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