Essay, Research Paper: Great Gatsby

Literature: The Great Gatsby

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The more things change, the more they stay the same "The Times They are a-Changin,
or so 60's singer/songwriter Bob Dylan thought. But have we really matured
enough as people to say that racism and prejudice are no longer words in the
English vocabulary? Most people like to think so, but the facts paint a
different picture. The novel, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald can be
used to illustrate these points. In the mid-20's, when American author F. Scott
Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby, it was common to use words to describe
African American people that today would be seen as offensive and degrading.
Mainly the sole purpose of using such words were to depict African Americans as
objects, not human beings. When Nick describes the "two Bucks" and a
Negro girl passing them in a horse-drawn carriage with a white chauffeur he
thinks to himself "Anything can happen now that we've slid over this bridge
anything at all" This shows how people in Fitzgerald's time reacted to free
black families. Nick describes the black males as "Bucks" because
that's the name people used when they auctioned them off as slaves. He couldn't
just refer to them as "men" or "gentlemen" because it was
inappropriate to give blacks a high status. Throughout the novel discussing the
downfall of the white race is a common topic. Tom and Daisy share thoughts about
the downfall over dinner and Tom states that "If we don't look out the
white race will be-will be utterly submerged," and Daisy follows that
comment up with "We've got to beat them (minorities) down." Because
nobody looks the same and because people fear anything different, they had no
choice but to fear minorities. If you were not wealthy and white, you were
feared. But racism wasn't the only degrading thing in the book; characters spoke
condescendingly about people's financial status as well. If you lived in East
Egg, you were wealthy and glamorous. If you lived in West Egg, you were well off
but not nearly as wealthy as the people in East Egg. And because Nick lived in
West Egg, Tom thought of himself as the better man. "Just because I'm
stronger and more of a man than you are," declares Tom to Nick about his
overrated ego. It wasn't only Nick who was the "outsider", Gatsby was
as well. If Gatsby would've been rich in the beginning of his life, Daisy would
have married him instead of Tom, and Daisy proudly admitted that to Gatsby, but
sobbed when she had to tell Tom. And now here we are in the late 90's and times
are still pretty much the same. People still think they are better than you are
if they are richer or are a different race. A recent article in the Sacramento
Bee on Ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke states facts that show we really
haven't changed. Duke, who is running for U.S. Congress states proudly he will
be "the first to stand up openly and proudly" to defend the rights of
Christian whites. He and Edward Fields read a 30-minute speech blaming Jews and
Israel for the ills of the world. They also stated that American culture is
overly influenced by African Americans and other minorities and that that should
come to an end. Duke ended his speech by saying, "If we lose European
Americans, we lose America." How can this be any different than Tom's?
"If we don't look out the white race will be-will be utterly
submerged." It was scary for me to see how similar Duke's quote and the
comment made by Tom in Fitzgerald's story are so similar after 70 something
years. I guess that really does show that even after all of these years, we
still have not changed. I think rapper Tupac Shakur said it best when he said,
"It's time for us as the people to start making some changes. Let's change
the way we eat, let's change the way we live, and let's change the way we treat
each other. Because it's up to us as the people to survive."

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