What is wasted in “The Great Gatsby”? In what sense Gatsby’s a waste. The Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby” is a chronicle of its times. Times of prohibition, bootleggers and economical prosperity, but also the times of people still recalling the World War I, those who try to forget its horror and compensate all the harms suffered, with the life full of luxury. The period of 1920s, so called Roaring Twenties, is the time when the United States experienced cultural revolution.
The lifestyle changed and the old values, such as morality disappeared, replaced by money and corruption. As the one who lived in that era, F. S. Fitzgerald became a strong critic of his contemporary’s lifestyles. One of the major themes of the novel is the criticism of the society for its trend to waste everything. Americans living in Roaring Twenties used what they want and when they want. In the novel we are accustomed with the parties organized by Jay Gatsby. Parties full of fruits, cocktails and sophisticated dishes.
As Nick describes “Every Friday five crates of oranges and lemons arrived from a fruiterer in New York—every Monday these same oranges and lemons left his back door in a pyramid of pulpless halves. ” (p. 43). It is the image of American society in 1920s, people who use things in excess, just to entertain themselves, and after all discard the remains wasted, everywhere without hesitating. The most noticeable symbol of wasteful nature of the 1920s’s society is situated between New York City and West Egg.
It is “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air” (p. 27), called the Valley of Ashes. It is the landfill where the garbage of West Egg and New York is transported and burnt. The whole area is covered with the ash, which is the only thing that remains after the process of burning the trash.
It may be understood as a metaphor of human existence, with passionate and full of desires life, represented here by the furious burning of the garbage, coming to an unexpected end when the only thing that remains from human body is the ash. In The Great Gatsby there are not only the physical wastes, but also metaphorical one. To the second group belongs Jay Gatsby himself. He lives a real American Dream life, dream that the Dutch sailors had when they came to the shores of America. He started with nothing but come to money and became one of the most popular members of the society.
He succeed because he believed that he is able to get what he wants. It was his own dream - to make Daisy love him, get her back and live happy life with her - that was the reason for everything that Gatsby has done and achieved in his entire life. Jay Gatsby is the only character in the novel not corrupted by the money he has. Even though he posses huge mansion and gives well known parties, he does not do it in order to live full of luxury life but to impress Daisy and make his wish come true.
Unfortunately he did not suit to the era when he lived, he was lost in his romanticism and unable to see that he has no chance to fulfill his biggest desire. He really believed in his illusions and it led him to the dramatic, and lonely death. Death that was also a symbolic end of traditional American Dream. F. S. Fitzgerald, in his novel, presented strong criticism, against American’s attitude to life, and how the American Dream has changed after the World War I. Beginning with the society respecting puritan values, then it has changed to that from Roaring Twenties, when the only value is to be rich and have fun.