Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Group 2- Question 1

Question: Characterize Jay Gatsby's parties. What do they represent in the novel and draw analogies with other similar representations in film or literature?

Jay Gatsby's parties are primarily an imitation of society during the 1920's. The parties show the vulgarity and indecency of the people during this era. Nick's descriptions highlight this. For example "One of the men was talking with curious intensity to a young actress, and his wife, after attempting to laugh at the situation in a dignified and indifferent way, broke down entirely and resorted to flans attacks- at intervals she appeared suddenly at his side like an angry diamond, and hissed;"You promised!" into his ear." This quotation is a perfect representation of the values in the society that the party guests live in. In today’s world, this situation would almost never happen; this kind of blatant disrespect for others is no longer accepted in society this is evidently not the case during the 1920’s. It highlights the vulgarity and disrespect of the party go-ers and their complete disregard for other peoples’ feelings. Gatsby’s parties are depicted very negatively in these chapters; Nick’s use of unfavorable diction as well as his brutally honest description of characters gives a very cynical view of the society that surrounds him.In addition to this, Jay Gatsby's parties also represent his failed efforts at becoming apart of this secret society. Although he is surrounded by tons of people, he is still completely unknown and alone. Unfortunately for Gatsby, no matter how many parties he throws and how much money he spends he can never buy his way into the 1% of society he is so desperate to be apart of.

Jay Gatsby’s parties also show the complete entitlement of the characters that are present at the parties. Most of those who attended Gatsby’s party were not invited and yet they believe they have every right to be there. This characterization represents the power of the aristocracy of society in the novel. These people have neither an invite nor any knowledge of Jay Gatsby but in their eyes this is irrelevant due to their association with the undistinguished and secret society that separate the “old” rich and the “new” rich in East and West Egg. This is shown when Nick overhears a conversation between a group of people that are debating how Gatsby became so rich. None of these stories have any shred of truth behind them but these people, who were not invited but are eating and drinking Gatsby’s food still feel the need to talk ill of their host. 

Similar representations of the concept of the entitlement of the rich or upper class in society can be seen in many novels concerning the struggle between two parts of society. For example in The Help, the conflict between the maids and their bosses shows the indecency of some of the white women who do not show respect towards the maids. Another example of this is any film that looks at the Spanish Inquisitions, although the severity of the conflicts are very different, the core values of the Catholic Church are the same. Due to their membership to the upper class, the church feels no regrets in persecuting anyone and everyone. There is neither decency nor respect; two feelings that are common of the people of West Egg.

Ruth Mengistu
Labels: Gatsby

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