Failure of the American Dream The setting is in Long Island, New York on the parts of East Egg and West Egg. West Egg is home of the “new” rich people and East Egg is home to the distinguished rich families. Nick Carraway has just moved into his new shack right next to the huge elegant mansion of Jay Gatsby in West Egg. In East Egg lives Nick’s cousin Daisy with her husband Tom Buchanan. These two places are separated by a large mass of water, but are connected by land on the side. Midway between New York City and West Egg lays a dump known as the valley of ashes. This valley is the home of George and Myrtle Wilson. All of the main characters pass through this ash dump at one point or another during the novel. All of the main characters are chasing the American Dream. They might not be doing it in completely legal ways, but they were all after the same thing. They did not think before they acted and ended up worse off than they were originally. Almost all people chase after the American Dream, but it can ultimately be catastrophic.
Nick had participated in World War I and after returning home found himself restless in the Mid-West and decided to move to New York to get into the bond business. He was egger to start his new job and had a positive outlook on the world. Nick then meets his new and mysterious neighbor Jay Gatsby and everything slowly begins to unfold about his past and wealth. By the end of the book Nick has lost his friend and is so disgusted with the moral less values of the East that he decides to return back to the Mid-West, “After Gatsby’s death the East was haunted for me like that, distorted beyond my eyes’ power of correction. “¦ I decided to come back home” (185). He went for his dream and at the end it is easy for the readers to come the conclusion that Nick will always have a bad impression of the East considering the events he has seen and the corrupt people he has interacted with.
Tom Buchanan was a big and strong manly man. He acts on pure emotion and never thinks before he acts. He is married to Daisy and is in love with her very much, yet has an affair with another woman named Myrtle. Proving Tom acts on impulse, he breaks Myrtle’s nose at a party, “Making a short deft movement Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand” (41). Daisy Buchanan was more of a quite woman. She seemed to just kind of go along with the program and sometimes not knowing what she was supposed to do or where she was going. At the end of the book, Tom is still the same person, but in a way he has aided the murder of Jay Gatsby by telling George Wilson who owned the yellow car that had hit and killed his wife, “I told him the truth ” He was crazy enough to kill me if I hadn’t told him who owned the car “¦ What if I did tell him? That fellow had it coming to him” (187).
Daisy will forever be scared knowing that she is responsible for the death of a human being. She ran Myrtle down even though it was an accident; she still has to live with that hanging over her head. Tom and Daisy do not think before they act and do not take responsibility for their actions, “It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made “¦” (188). Tom and Daisy are still very wealthy people, but they will never be complete mentally knowing what they have done.
George and Myrtle Wilson are probably the least wealthy people in the book. The pretty much live in the middle of a dump, but what George does for a living is honest. George Wilson was “anemic and faintly handsome” (29) and somewhat lifeless as described by Tom, “He’s so dumb he doesn’t know he’s alive” (30). Myrtle Wilson was “in the middle thirties and faintly stout” (29). She was not an incredibly beautiful woman, “Her face ” contained no facet or gleam of beauty (30). At the end of the book, both of these people have met a tragic fate. Myrtle has been killed by Daisy with the car and George takes his own life after taking Gatsby’s. George and Myrtle both went for the American Dream and both were shot down. Myrtle tried to attain it by having an affair with a wealthy man and trying to marry into the American Dream, while George earned it honestly and died never having achieved his dream.
Jay Gatsby is probably the most confusing character to decipher in this book and perhaps that is why his name appears in the title. We are never really sure if he is happy anywhere at any point in the book and we are also unsure of what his dream is until later. We are first introduced to him near the end of chapter 1. He is standing on his lawn with his arms outstretched towards a green light across the water. At his elaborate parties he keeps himself distant from his guests. He requested Jordan Bakers company in private. Later in the evening when everybody is beginning to leave, she and Gatsby emerge and Nick asks Jordan how long they have been in there and her reply is, “Why, – about an hour” (57). He also does not seem to partake in the consumption of alcohol, which he as provided such an abundance of. He has incredible wealth, but the readers are not sure where it comes from. In chapter 4 we learn that Gatsby is friends with Meyer Wolfsheim who acts somewhat odd at lunch we learn that “” he’s a gambler”.
He’s the man who fixed the World Series back in 1919″ (78). Gatsby is also pulled over for speeding on the way to lunch, but upon showing the policeman a white card, is immediately released and receives an apology. It is most certainly clear that Gatsby has some underground connections, which is a possible explanation for his wealth. Later in chapter 4 learn the Gatsby and Daisy were once in love, but when Gatsby went away in the war, and Daisy ended up marrying Tom. Gatsby bought his mansion in West Egg to be near Daisy. Gatsby wants Nick to arrange a meeting between himself and Daisy. At their reunion it is first awkward, but then they seem to hit it off pretty well. He invites Nick and Daisy to his house to show off his wealth to Daisy and she is overwhelmed by it, “Suddenly with a strained sound Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily” (98).
Daisy and Gatsby share this secret love for a few weeks and Tom begins to become suspicious. Gatsby wants things to be like they were in the past, but Nick points out that you cannot recreate the past. In chapter 7 we find Tom, Daisy, Gatsby, Jordan, and Nick all at the Buchanan’s house for lunch and this is where Daisy and Gatsby can no longer hide their love for each other, “As he (Tom) left the room again she (Daisy) got up and went over to Gatsby, and pulled his face down kissing him on the mouth” (122). A little later after lunch, Tom notices their love, “She (Daisy) had told him (Gatsby) that she loved him, and Tom Buchanan saw” (125). They all decide to go to the city and get a place at the Plaza Hotel. There is some confrontation between Tom and Gatsby and it is during this that Daisy begins to realize that she really loves Tom. Daisy and Gatsby then drive back to East Egg followed by Nick, Tom, and Jordan.
On the way back they come across a horrid scene and find out that Myrtle Wilson has been killed by a hit and run. It was the car that Daisy was driving that killed Myrtle, but Gatsby decides he is going to take the rap for it. Gatsby waits in the bushes by Daisy’s house to make sure Tom does not harm Daisy. The following day Gatsby decides to take a swim in his pool, but ultimately meets his death in the pool. He is shot by George Wilson and then George promptly shoots himself then. Gatsby died by himself without anybody. He had the American Dream of being wealthy, but he was missing the love he desired and ultimately led to his death.
People want to be happy and wealthy and that is what they go after, but sometimes you cannot have your cake and eat it too. All the characters I have described in the book went for the American Dream and all did not achieve it. People should also be more careful about their decisions and actions and this could help them reach their goals.