Jay Gatsby: Epitome of the American Dream? Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/undergraduate_thesis_or_projects/b5644s88f

Presented at the Citizenship & Crisis Student Research Conference as part of the American Conversations Lecture Series

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  • The 1920's in America, commonly known as the "Roaring Twenties," were marked by a break from tradition, especially following the First World War. This break led to American citizens seeking to redefine themselves. Written in this time period, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby features a passive narrator seeking a man to admire. Nick Carraway moves to New York and finds himself neighbor to Jay Gatsby, a man who made himself from the ground up; a man who epitomizes the American Dream. Nick's admiration of Gatsby inspires him to write a narrative on the events of Gatsby's life as he perceived them. However, Nick's unreliability as a narrator causes a more in-depth look at Gatsby, which shows him to have gained his wealth through dishonest means. In this paper, I argue that Nick's unreliability as a narrator draws us to see the flaws in Gatsby's character--and therefore in his story--which diminishes his ability to serve as an example of the American Dream. This flaw in Gatsby's story thereby highlights the crisis in which Americans find themselves in this time period regarding their identity.
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