From Freedom and Equality to Materialism and Merit:.
The Demoralization of the American Dream.
The American Dream during the time of our forefathers was for one to be free, equal, and entirely self-made. During the "roaring twenties," however, an economic boom triggered a frenzy of capitalism that adulterated this dream into being wholly based on materialism and social merit. Throughout F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, the author lives the corruption of this dream through Tom and Daisy (the inheritors of success), Gatsby (the achiever of success), and Myrtle (the seeker of success). These individuals are observed by Nick Caraway, the unbiased narrator and sole human being unconcerned with living a life of extravagance. Despite first appearance, all individuals in pursuit of wealth and merit are demoralized either mentally, physically, or both. .
Tom Buchanan, powerfully built and of a prestigious family, is an "East Egger." The East Egg is known as residence to the traditional money, and because Tom lives there, it is obvious that he is experiencing the American Dream to its fullest. He is biased, hypocritical, and dead to the world. Tom converses about the book The Rise of the Coloured Empires: "Well, it's a fine book and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don't look out, the white race will be - will be utterly submerged. It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved (17)." This passage shows how Tom is numbed from the "life of Riley." He does not understand the world because he has isolated himself from it. He has always been above the masses and therefore oblivious to how things are below. Tom, in other words, is an egotistical snob. Because he is both very strong and wealthy, Tom is only able to have it his way. When he later realizes that his most showy possession (his wife) is in jeopardy, he jumps to her rescue although he shares no care for her character but merely for his own social standing as head honcho.