Great Gatsby Class Structure Essay

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Class Structure in the 1920s
Glitzy parties, bootlegged alcohol, and excessive wealth characterize the well-to-do. Yet, just across the bay, people live in squalor, covered in ash and dust. The Roaring Twenties were a time of prevalent social stratification. The issues and roles of class structure in the Great Gatsby are central to the book’s characters and themes. Class struggles fuel conflict throughout the novel. The structure of classes in the twenties was poor, middle class, rich, and within the rich class, Old Money and New Money. In this time period the rich could hide behind their money and influence to stay above the law. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back to their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made..” (Fitzgerald 179) The blatant disregard of responsibility shown by the upper class furthers the gap between the poorer and wealthier people. Examples of the various classes in the novel have Myrtle and George as the poor class, Nick Caraway as somewhat of a middle class man, Daisy and Tom as Old Money, and Gatsby as New Money. The rich have no regard for those beneath their social standing. For example, Myrtle says Daisy’s name and Tom refuses to put up with it. “Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke [Myrtle’s] nose
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The class gap is so wide that even Gatsby and Daisy’s former love cannot overcome it, setting forth a chain of events which resolves itself with Gatsby’s death. Even when men like Dan Cody or Jay Gatsby manage to ascend the social ladder beyond their humble beginnings, they cannot hope to escape from the perceived “otherness” that holds them down and prevents them from reaching the
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