Choose one character from The Great Gatsby that has either changed or stayed static and analyze how this quality affects the author's message.

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

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I think that you can choose any character from The Great Gatsby and examine their static of fluid characteristics to enhance the message that Fitzgerald wants to convey.  One great example of this is Fitzgerald's development of Jordan Baker.  Jordan Baker starts off as a woman constructed out of excess and the superficial elements that define status, wealth, and power.  Along with Daisy, she is initially described “as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire."  Jordan is a woman who begins as one who is cold, emotionally detached, and totally in control of the people all around her. She retains this throughout the narrative.  Jordan is shown to be this way throughout the story, a condition in which her materialism never leaves her. Jordan is the embodiment of the social setting within the 1920s, the Jazz Age.  Fitzgerald designs her as a representation of the cost of social acceptance, almost as the price one has to pay for conformity and the proverbial climbing of the social ladder.

It is in this regard where I think that Jordan's lack of change is a deliberate reflection of authorial intent.  Fitzgerald is committed to showcasing the social world of the 1920s, a world where people were treated as means to ends as opposed to ends in their own rights.  Fitzgerald's attempt to communicate this aspect of the social world is seen in how Jordan never changes.  She remains the same throughout, an indication of how the world in the 1920s also never changes.  Despite all that happens in terms of death, ruptured hopes and dreams, and human frailty, the social ascension towards popularity continues.  This is seen in how Jordan appropriates reality and how Fitzgerald deliberately makes her a static character in the novel.

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