Why Is Old Money Important In The Great Gatsby

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In a game of chess or cards there is a clear definitive winner. However in life, success is not binary; success is inherently relative. In The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the successes of the many characters vary greatly. This variance can be seen along lines of division like social class. F. Scott Fitzgerald emphasizes success variance along clear divisional lines by simplifying and dichotomizing socio-economic statuses into two groups – Old and New money. Those from Old money have acquired their wealth through indirect means: inheritance, generational wealth, or aristocracy. This method of wealth acquisition starkly contrasts with that of New money. Those from New money have accumulated wealth directly through hard work, sweat,…show more content…
Not only was wealth passed down, outdated and impractical values were also inherited. Tom and Daisy are the two most notable members of Old money, with Tom being the most vocal with his views. He states “it’s up to us who are the dominant race to watch out or these other races will have control of things.” (17). With a desperate desire to remain in power, Tom and Daisy try to differentiate themselves as much as possible. Since those of Old money are at the peak of the social pyramid, they are incredibly pessimistic. Daisy proclaims that “…the best thing a girl can be in this world [is] a beautiful little fool” (21) and “…[that] everything’s terrible anyhow” (21). These feelings of bigotry and pessimism are byproducts of underlying greed. Tom and Daisy “…had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully where people played polo and were rich together.”(10). The greed of Old money is displayed again when Daisy leaves Gatsby. Daisy values wealth over love and “…vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby – nothing.”(156). Materialistic Old money values grow “…like fertilized weeds and [cover] arable land like crabgrass…”(Johnson 2). The flaws of Old money are witnessed only by God or at least Fitzgerald’s representation of God – Doctor T.J. Eckleburg’s billboard advertisement. Eckleburg’s eyes “are blue and gigantic – their retinas are one yard high” (27). Eckleburg witnesses Old money’s bigotry, pessimism, and greed – all values intended to build barriers between classes and not bridges to a universal
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