What do you think that F. Scott Fitzgerald is saying about Americans, America, and the American Dream? -Americans: "Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry"(Fitzgerald, I don't remember the page number, but it is in Chapter 5), basically we will work for the rich, but being working-class is absurd to think about.

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Through this quote, Fitzgerald provides commentary that is representative of his expatriate views.  Fitzgerald is a member of what is referred to as the "Lost Generation," a moniker derived from a comment made by Gertrude Stein. In general, the term refers to the generation that reached adulthood around the time...

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Through this quote, Fitzgerald provides commentary that is representative of his expatriate views.  Fitzgerald is a member of what is referred to as the "Lost Generation," a moniker derived from a comment made by Gertrude Stein. In general, the term refers to the generation that reached adulthood around the time of World War I and, as such, were the majority of people fighting the war.  Subsequently, a high percentage of men in this generation were killed in the war.  More specifically, the term refers to the unfulfilled nature of this generation, coming of age in such a time of instability.  The expatriate faction of the Lost Generation was comprised of a number of artists who left America behind during and after World War I and settled overseas, establishing their literary and artistic reputations abroad.  They held strong stances regarding America, and were often highly critical of what they felt the American Dream had become.  This particular quote expresses the disillusionment characteristic of many expatriates. 

Regarding Fitzgerald's use of language: Merriam-Webster defines "serf" as a member of a servile feudal class bound to the land and subject to the will of its owner.  In stating that Americans are "occasionally willing to be serfs," Fitzgerald is highlighting his belief that for better or worse, Americans will allow themselves to be exploited.  However, in finishing by saying that Americans "have always been obstinate about being peasantry," he highlights his perception of the hypocrisy of Americans.  To Fitzgerald, people will allow themselves to be oppressed, but are upset when they are called oppressed or when their attention is drawn to their oppression because they wish to see themselves as free, rather than accept their oppression and rise against it.  Through this quote, Fitzgerald is not only providing commentary on his belief in Americans' hypocrisy; he is also calling into question the structure of the society and country that would oppress its people in such a way which, in turn, calls into being the very existence of the American Dream.

 

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Essentially, F. Scott Fitzgerald satirizes Americans--especially those on the East Coast--of his time who have become a sordid bunch, focusing on the acquisition of wealth as a measure of social status and success. Knowledgeable of the original ideal of the American Dream as having left an impoverished Ireland or a civil war-torn Italy or other economically deprived conditions in Europe in order to own land and become financially independent and provide a better life for one's children, Fitzgerald perceived the dream of the Jazz Age as a perversion of the original. 

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Americans tend to think they are always working toward the next thing.  When they work for someone else, they never consider themselves less than the person, because they feel like they will be there too someday.  It's the American dream.

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The idea in the quotation seems, to me, to relate to the idea that perception or pretense plays an out-sized role in the American mind. Serfdom and peasantry are not all that different, really, yet one is perceived to be an important and offensive title/description... 

Materialism is closely aligned with this kind of emphasis on outward appearances. 

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Overall, I think that Fitzgerald is saying that the American Dream is an absurdity. He is saying that Americans only care about material things and have lost their sense of moral purpose.  He thinks that we are sort of chasing some sort of material utopia that we think will make us happy even though it really won't.

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