What role does the Harlem Resnaissance have in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby?

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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America was rapidly changing in the 1920's, and that rapid change was not simply limited to the white community.  In the aftermath of the Civil War, things were not exactly ideal for African-Americans, but over time a culture of fine arts began to develop in the form of jazz music, literature, and poetry.  The work of Duke Ellington (music), and Langston Hughes (poetry) are a couple of the more well-known artists of this period, but there were many more.  Tom Buchanan alludes to the changing role of African-Americans a couple of times in the novel.  Early in the story, he mentions the need of the "dominant race" to keep things in order and under control; later, during an argument with Gatsby over Daisy, Tom invokes the idea of the decline of family life and family institutions (ironic in and of itself since he is an adulterer) and likens it to an interracial marriage that will destroy society itself. 

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