Possessions in The Great Gatsby : (III. Peasant and Plutocrat (Fitzgerald…
Possessions in The Great Gatsby :
I. The Envelope of Circumstances
The Portrait of a Lady
"There is no such thing as an isolated man or woman; we are each of us made up of a cluster of appurtenances" (187).
People are influenced by money and their circumstances.
"One's house, one's clothes, the book one reads, the company one keeps--these things are all expressive" (187).
Isabel incorrectly believes the contrary: "Nothing that belongs to me is any measure of me; on the contrary, it's a limit, a barrier, and a perfectly arbitrary one" (187).
As a result, she is trapped into "the worst possible marriage" (187).
Henry James & Fitzgerald similarities
"social novelists in whose work the issue is joined between innocence and experience" (188).
"The pursuit of independece was doomed from the start" (188).
"Fitzgerald's characters find it impossible to throw off 'the cluster of appurtenances' and invent themselves anew" (188).
Gatsby 's pink suit, "circus wagon," huge mansion, and lavish parties reveal he is "newly rich, unschooled in the social graces and sense of superiority ingrained not only in Tom Buchanan, but also in Nick Carraway" (188)
Tender Is the Night
Excessive materialism leads to the exploitation of those less fortunate.
"For her sake [...] half-breed Indians toiled on Brazilian coffee plantations" (189).
"The various workers [...] 'gave a tithe to Nicole,' as if she were a goddess commanding 10 percent of their earnings" (190-191)
Nicole "buys indiscriminately [...] ranging from the trivial impulse buy of the rubber alligator to such a solid ad usable item as the guest bed" (190)
Rosemary, who grew up belonging to the middle class, is unable to spend like Nicole. "In order to spend so heedlessly, you had to grow up rich" (191).
"The two women are similar in loveliness and enjoyment of the day, quite different in their attitude toward money" (192).
"Nearly a decade after the publication of Gatsby, at a time when Fitzgerald's political convictions had moved sharply and programmatically to the left" (189).
"preoccupied with Marxism" (190)
"persuaded that capitalism was a corrupt and dying economic system" (190)
"The novel should [...] show a man who is a natural idealist [like Nick] a spoiled priest, giving in for the various causes to the ideas of the haute bourgeoisie, and in his rise to the top of the social world losing his idealism, his talent and turning to drink and dissipation" (190).
II. Love and Money
Attracts Tom with her "smoldering sensuality" (192)
Even Tom pushes Myrtle down by making it clear that she will never "gain access to the privileged precincts of East Egg" (193).
"pitifully attempts" to be high class, but fails. "She aims for extravagance, but has had no experience with it" (192)
What she buys reveals her lower class upbringing. (the "male Airedale" for ten dollars, showy lavender taxi,
Changes outfit often, wearing "cream-colored" dress (not quite white, stained because she can never fully be like Daisy) 192
Her speech gives her mask away. "I got" 193
"Her laughter becoming progressively more artificial" (193).
Goes out of her way to pretend she is high class. "These people!" even though she is one of those people (192)
Compared to dog, which was not unusual for woman at the time
Possession to be played with and eventually ignored
Gatsby "ran over Myrtle like you'd run over a dog" (193).
Tom cried when he saw "the box of dog biscuits sitting there on the sideboard" (193-194
Myrtle's planned shopping expenditures give away her lower middle class position, which makes her an easier target for Tom (194).
Similar to Myrtle, his background limits his success, making it impossible for him to win the love of Daisy Buchanan (194)
"Guilty of a crucial error in judgement" (194)
"Unwilling or unable to comprehend that it is not money alone that matters, but money combined with secure social position" (194).
Like Myrtle, he buys the wrong things
Unfairness of poor young man being unable to marry a girl with money (195)
Can visit a world, but never truly belong (195)
Money cannot buy love (or at least tainted money can't) 195
Tom and Daisy
careless people who "smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together" (195)
OLD money can overcome personality faults (196)
You can purchase immunity from punishment if you have money AND position (196)
The games they play are not as innocent and pure as they may seem; individuals, Myrtle and Daisy, are KILLED
Easy to buy away guilt, discomfort, and consequence, where Gatsby and Myrtle, who were the ones who loved from below are hurt and killed
automobiles allow for even MORE corruption! (196-197)
If you have the right background you can get away with murder (197)
III. Peasant and Plutocrat
Fitzgerald initially becomespassionate about money because of his own personal expereicnes with Zelda(197).
Fitzgerald does not have the "conviction of the revolutionist" but rather "the smoldering hatred of the peasant" (197).
Inherently selfish nature
Fitzgerald personally dislikes the people he wishes to be like (198).
Capatalistic societiy is corrupt, as money is able to transform all "incapacities into their opposities" (198).
Fitzgerald's critique of capitalism is easy to miss (199).
"good deal more than romantic wonder in his fiction [...] Fitzgerald intuitively grasped and illustrated basic Marxian precepts" (199).
Fitzgerald was more focused culturally on pop music and automobiles, not as much well versed with politics
Reification and commodity fetishism
social relationships that are defined by economic goods
At risk for becoming the objects that define us (200).
As objects, we all have a price and can all be manipulated by money
independent objects become personified (200).
With capitalism, the people become the objects, and the objects become the living (200).
Daisy=most desirable object (200)
associated with many luxurious objects
her voice itself is "full of money" (200).
her voice is an object that DEFINES her and becomes who she IS
her voice his very manipulate and plays "murmurous tricks in her throat" (200).
However, her voice is like "warm human magic" and IS NOT REAL (201),
like money, it can intice very strong emotions, even though it is calculated and artificial (201).
capitalism has replaced the Protestant ethic of hard work that the American Dream was founded on (201).
the top class is expected to "pecuniary emulation, conspicuous lesiure, and conspicuous consumption (202)
property has replaced other ways of showing power
"Pecuniary emulation" you have to be beter than your neighbor (202)
largest motive for accumlating wealth
need to do more than just show wealth, because inherited wealth is "even more honorific than that acquired through one's own efforts" (202)
When it comes to horses, Gatsby is used to the practical uses from the war, where as Tom rides polo ponies during his idle rich days
Rich think they are superior because of the leisure, and don't feel like they should apologize for their bad habits (204).
lesiure class=murderous (204).
IV. The Inessential Houses
"The single most important object by which to declare one's status is the house" (204)
Homes reflect who people ARE
Although Nick is currently living in a "weather-beaten cardboard bungalow" he can always return to his "well-to-do, prominent" family. His "poverty" is onlyl temoporary (204)
Grows up in the Fay house with "red-white-and-blue banners patriotically whipp[ing] in the summer wind" (204
Her house is "bright with the BOUGHT luxury of starshine" (205) Money can buy the impossible, even things that don't exist and aren't for sale
Gatsby is initially attracted to Daisy because of her home, it the wealth enchants and mystifies him (205).
As her voice becomes "huskier and more charming" by her cold, Gatsby falls in love. He falls in love with her when she is sick and full of corruption. By committing himself to her, he wanted "the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves" (205)
Gatsby began trying to live the past immediately after he got out of the war. Later, he made the "impossible condition of his impossible dream of recovering the past" (205)
Daisy and her white palace and synonymous with one another. In Louisville and even in East Egg her house remains white (205)
Her house is magical. Lawn has super human qualities, dresses buoyed up on the coach, and their is the green light at the end of their dock, which Gatsby associates with supernatural importance (206(
The green light is "a lost love just beyond his grasp." And like magic, "once he sees and touches the actual rather than the idealized Daisy" the magic disappears and is replaced by reality (206)
Gatsby's "earthbound" house can never compete with the magic that comes with the Buchannans home (206)
Tom is able to go back in time by making "a stable out of garage" Unlike Gatsby who is stuck in the present, even though he desires the past (206)
is just an "imitation of some Hotel de Ville in NOrmandy" like a hotel, it is only temporary and as an imitation it can never compete with the original
Is very showy because of his huge concern of being a "nobody" (207)
However TOm is quick to attack Gatsby and won't "let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to [his] wife" (207)
Very insecure and lacks the confidence of TOm when describing his house, (asks Nick, seeking validation, where as Tom TELLS Nick how great his house is) (207)
His showy-ness reveals his agenda of seeking wealth
The builder originally tried to get all of the nieghbors to replace their roofs with straw, however the y refused to turn back the clock and be equivelent to peasants (207)
Daisy won't turn back the clock and become a "peasant" by marrying Gatsby (207)
Daisy is "appalled" by his parties at west egg (208) marked the end of their relationship
Gatsby stops giving the aprties, because what good are the parties if the purpose has failed?? (209)
Gatsby's father brings two iitems.. Gatsbys boyhood schedule showing his AMBITION (American Dream). Also the photograph of the mansion, which was more real than the house itself
father like son, both prefer imagined to real, the past to the present (210)
Tells a tale about "the debilitating effects of money and social class on Americian society and those who seek fulfillment within its confines (210)
Offers double vision of those who live fromthe outisde, and those who are from within (210)