How can the Buchanans, Jordan Baker, and Gatsby’s guests be considered “the lost generation” in The Great Gatsby?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Buchanans, Jordan Baker, and most of Gatsby's guests can be considered the "lost generation" in The Great Gatsby because they are all products of the shallow wealth and frivolity of the "Roaring Twenties."  This is compared, of course, to the previous generation who would experience the tragedies of World War I and the next generation who would wallow in the Great Depression.  People like Tom, Daisy, & Jordan know nothing of the acquirement of money, it has just always been there for their shallow spending.  One can begin to see the lost generation concept in Nick's original observation about East Egg when "the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water" (5).  Further, one can see the aspect of twenties frivolity within the confines of Gatsby's parties where "people were doing 'stunts' all over the garden, while happy, vacuous bursts of laughter rose toward the summer sky" (47).  However, the best example of the lost generation concept can be found in Nick's hesitation to describe Daisy's voice, to which Gatsby replies suddenly, "Her voice is full of money" (120).  Some of Gatsby's guests are from East Egg, but the ones who live in West Egg (and are therefore considered "new" money) are simply aspiring to be more like those in East Egg, so they acquire the same shallowness by association.  No matter how you look at it, the thirties would hit the lost generation of the "Roaring Twenties" with incredible harshness and tragedy.

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The Great Gatsby

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