It is widely thought that The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a piece of literature that embodies American society and ideals. As critic Matthew J. Bruccoli put it: "The Great Gatsby defines the classic American novel", but what is the American novel? To answer this question we must first analyze the society and ideals of America. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is often regarded as the original "great American novel", but the obvious differences between the two books create conflicting ideas of what life is all about in America. Through comparison and contrast of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with The Great Gatsby we see that each book represents "different Americas": the lower and upper classes, rural and urban life, the discriminated and the privileged, the frontier west and the civilized east, the prejudices of south and north, traditional conservatism and radical emotionalism. Each book gives opinions on each opposing faction of American life, but in the biased tone of two authors who are writing for very different audiences and intentions. .
Huckleberry Finn is centered around a boy born in to rags, the only child of an illiterate, prejudiced father. The established old money of the rural upper class that the Widow Douglass represents is shown as being "dismal regular and decent in all her ways" (1). After witnessing the brutal feud between the upper class Grangerfords and Shepardsons, the lower class life of living on a raft is described as being "mighty free and easy and comfortable" (113). Although a simpler lower class life is not "so cramped up and smothery", (113) the ignorance possessed by many lower class figures such as Pap is detested. Twain bitterly abhors ignorance with his dripping satire of Pap's "Call this a govment!" (26) speeches, where Pap denounces black people as naturally inferior and ridicules the government for not feverishly enforcing his racist ideas.