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The Great Gatsby

            In his novel The Great Gatsby (1925) F. Fitzgerald introduces the reader to a set of characters that stand on the different levels of socioeconomic ladder and by destiny's will share each other's lives. Reading the novel one can see that Fitzgerald puts a huge emphasis on money: its presence or absence is the deciding factor in shaping the lives and personalities of the characters. The novel takes place in New York, in the early 1920s. One might notice that the financial situation with the East and West Eggs bears an uncanny resemblance to the situation with the East and West Sides in the city. The narrator himself introduces the reader to this idea: "I lived at West Egg, the -- well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them" (9). In the city families who have been wealthy for several generations occupy the sophisticated East Side; in order to buy an apartment there one must provide good recommendations. West Side is less sophisticated and therefore less desirable for it is open to the "new money." By creating this setting Fitzgerald is trying to make the reader understand that a character like Gatsby needs a certain environment to exist. Although Gatsby's persona is surrounded by different rumors, and "contemporary legends such as the "underground pipe-line to Canada" attached themselves to his name," people come to his parties. Money can buy one popularity and friends, at least temporarily. Most likely many of Gatsby's "friends" knew where the money came from, yet it did not seem to be a good enough reason for them to stop socializing with him. Money can also buy tolerance for breaking the law. In order for Gatsby to be able to have his lavish parties where "in the main hall a bar with a real brass rail was set up, and stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten" (44), he had to have the entire police department on the payroll.

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