Identify and explain something specific that The Great Gatsby helps the reader understand about America as a place, a country, or a society.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby reveals the dark undercurrents of American consumerism in the Roaring Twenties.  Nick Carroway views the parties, binge drinking, corruption as an outsider would, giving the reader a realistic view of the often amoral attitudes of both the men and women of Long Island Sound.  In the novel, Jay Gatsby reached for the 'American Dream'--wealth, contentment, and materialism--and he achieved all of those things, except for contentment. 

Fitzgerald's glittering look at the lives of the rich reveals that money cannot buy happiness.  His portrayal of America in the 1920s reveals a society hardened by material gains and conspicuous consumption, one that is desperate for fulfillment which seeks to fill its feelings of emptiness with more material goods, booze, and unworthy affairs.