Theme Of Ownership In The Great Gatsby

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Can people own something that they can’t see? Ownership -- the state of being in control or in possession of something -- can be tangible or intangible. The things people own have value, but in society, one’s value consists of more than just the material items he or she possesses. By owning innate moral and beneficial qualities, one can add tremendous value to society while improving his or her character. Ownership and control of anything --tangible or intangible-- often lead to striving for more of whatever one obtains. However, ownership of intangible things can have a more valuable impact on one’s sense of self than tangible things, which can often blur one’s identity and can take over his or her life. Tangible items often take over…show more content…
The idea that one can become obsessed with the things he or she owns is not always negative; when striving for positive attributes, this obsession represents the drive for betterment of one’s sense of self. In The Great Gatsby, Nick shows that the number of possessions one owns does not always equate to one’s depth of character. Despite his relative penury in the novel, he possesses a greater sense of self than the other characters, such as Gatsby, Tom, and Daisy, who own more material goods. His keen sense of self can be attributed to his drive for knowledge, as the book notes that he is “inclined to reserve all judgments,” leading to his “curious nature” (Fitzgerald 1). Instead of jumping to conclusions, Nick waits to gather the facts in a situation before judging someone, which society considers a reputable and just thing to do. His curiosity causes him to search for more knowledge and therefore allow him to make more thorough and concrete conclusions. These character traits give him a greater understanding of his internal self instead of basing his self worth on external things. He notes that he is “one of the few honest people” in the world and feels that he can be honest because of his transparency, unlike those hiding behind a facade of materialism (Fitzgerald 59). His sensible view of reality gives him a clearer sense of himself. Traits such as honesty and knowledge are valued in…show more content…
The desire for love and companionship has the ability to help shape one’s sense of self, but Gatsby’s drive to fulfill that longing in Daisy became his sole focus in life and distracted him from reality. Instead of enhancing his true character, he completely lost his identity in an attempt to pursue Daisy, changing his entire life when he left “James Gatz” behind and put on the persona of Jay Gatsby. Refusing to accept his past, he lost his identity, and his sense of self was reduced to a “career” trying to be someone else (Fitzgerald 98). He spent his whole life trying to acquire money simply to fulfill the desire for Daisy’s love, since he knew “he had no real right to touch her hand” as a “penniless young man without a past” (Fitzgerald 149). Gatsby’s aspiration for love took over everything he did, as the text notes he “took what he could get, ravenously and unscrupulously” to try to become wealthy and satisfy his desire for love (Fitzgerald 149). To achieve his dreams of being with Daisy, he resorted to illegal methods such as bootlegging and became obsessed with her -- he bought a house across the water just to see her and even collected newspaper clippings about her. Instead of controlling and
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