The novel “ The Great Gatsby” by F. S. Fitzgerald is a story about American dream, a vivid picture of Jazz Era in America. The author reveals all sides of life and layers of society in late 20s. The novel opens a lot of topics for discussion and the theme of race is among the key ones.
“ The Great Gatsby” consists of direct and indirect indication on racial prejudice. Tom Buchanan feels absolutely free to comment on his attitude towards racial distinction. He believes that the power to rule, manage and control belongs to those who are rich and historically responsible. Tom claims that the society would meet decadence sooner or later unless “ whites” don’t control the “ black” merging to upper class “ It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.” (Fitzgerald, “ The Great Gatsby”) Even Tom’s sporting appearance presupposes that he belongs to the “ dominant” kind of people.
The indirect references to clear social distinction are visible throughout the novel in little details. All the parties and upper class activities are “ white” themselves. The guests drink expensive alcohol and eat food from overseas. And the “ black” people are only seen as an obstacle on the road or a kitchen maid.
Jewish character Meyer Wolfsheim personifies racial minorities who made big money being involved in organized crime, such as illegal drug selling.
Nick Carraway referred to “ black” men as “ Bucks”. Such names were given to them when they were sold as slaves. No one was used to calling them “ Sir” or “ gentleman” as it was considered outrageously wrong.
American dream was available only for white people. The Valley of Ashes becomes the symbol of broken, “ burnt down” dreams, poverty and lower class. This place was like a cage for people who desperately tried to live a better live, to escape hopelessness. For example, when Myrtle tried to escape The Valley she died, which means that American dream was hard to reach or resulted in deadly outcome.
Jazz era was the period of “ white” making a fortune and entertaining. At the same time “ black” population were obliged to work among serving staff at parties. Those who managed to make a fortune after the World War I, didn’t give a chance to feel the power of American Dream to others.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “ The Great Gatsby”. eBooks@Adelaide. n. d. Web. 3. Sept. 2014.