The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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What does the Midwest represent in The Great Gatsby (the symbolism of the Midwest)?

In The Great Gatsby, the Midwest represents old-fashioned American values. In leaving behind the Midwest, James Gatz was also abandoning the values of his family. Once he’d transformed himself into Jay Gatsby, he became a different man, obsessed with wealth, popularity, and high social status, with calamitous consequences.

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The Midwest in The Great Gatsby represents America as it used to be before The Roaring Twenties got into full swing. The values of this part of the world—thrift, hard work, faith, and common decency—were synonymous with American values. They were valorized by politicians, pundits, and social activists, who were increasingly appalled by what they saw as the decline of traditional American values in the midst of a society where wealth and consumerism were fast becoming an alternative religion.

Jay Gatsby worships at the altar of this dangerous new creed. Once upon a time, he was a humble Midwesterner called James Gatz. But once he left his hometown, he never looked back and over time transformed himself into Jay Gatsby, The Great Gatsby, no less, that we all know and love.

In transforming himself like this, however, Jay has undoubtedly lost something. He’s lost his hold on the decent, common-sense values of the Midwest that may well have kept his feet firmly on the ground. Instead, in...

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