In the book, The Great Gatsby, the setting is in America, showcasing a range of themes that the author depicts in the reading. Of the subjects, the author places the most emphasis on the subject of social stratification. Other themes include strength, corruption, justice, betrayal, and the American dream (Fitzgerald 10). Fitzgerald’s book raises a slew of problems that concern people in society, both socially and economically. The novel’s characters’ pasts dictate their futures, no matter how hard they want to avoid them. The objective of this paper is to show how the past defines the characters present status and where they are. Also, it determines whether the past can be repeated or not.
Analysis of the Characters Past
The characters in the novel play a vital role in showing the aim of the author in bringing out the meaning in the themes discussed. The role of each character in determining the past is discussed especially how they are trying to deny being defined by it. The overall pattern in the behavior of the characters owing to their current position, location, and the economic status dictated by the past that they lived.
Nick Carraway’s as one of the key characters in the novel played a vital role in bringing out the meaning in the themes of the author. The traits portrayed by Nick show a correlation between the past and the present steps in his life. Being a westerner, Nick was a morally upright young man whose conduct in his society was considered better and within the demands of his society in the Western. In the year 1922, Nick moved to New York in the United States to get bonds (Fitzgerald 29). This was a period of great advancement and economic prosperity in the United States. In regard to this, his personality changed from the point in which he was better than the Western world. Nick became famous as he was charged with responsibility of retaining what his father had told him one day, as the author says, In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’ (Fitzgerald 5). This has always been the stand point of Nick, despite the challenges of staying in a setting where social class and wealth determined the behavior of the residents. For instance, he stayed in a modest house where he maintained the advice his father told him. Also, however much Nick tried adapting a life style of high social class that did not belong to him, his past still beckoned at him.
In addition to that, Nick falls in love with Jordan Baker who was beautiful. His romantic relationship with Jordan was established through material things and wealth. On top of that, infatuation was the driving force of the relation. Nicks past did not favor the relationship, it was still following him (Fitzgerald 78). He was from a family that did not have anything for him to hold on such a beautiful lady, so he ended the relationship after the death of Gatsby who was the link between them. Furthermore, Nick arranges the meeting between Gatsby and Daisy despite him knowing that she was a wife to Tom. This tarnished his reputation and at the end he was faced with the same challenge and he broke his relationship with Jordan. Through Gatsby, Nick looked like he belonged to people of the high social class. He received a big blow since the past proved to still follow him.
Also, considering Jay Gatsby one of the famous character in the novel, the past got hold of him despite him denying it. In his past, Gatsby worked for a millionaire. This determined his future especially his dedication towards finding wealth. This dictated his life despite him making his fortune in a manner that was unknown to people through wrong means that finally left him in the same hustle he had in the past. This is evident from life that he lived, his life revolved around the secrete relationship between Gatsby and Tom’s wife, Daisy and furthermore Gatsby rich through dubious means which involved getting money through criminal acts like drug trafficking and smuggling of illegal alcohol. Gatsby used Nick to get his relationship with Daisy restored, after which he was he was successful in reviving it. Daisy was a wife to Tom, it is clear that this was moral disrespect to Tom since he planned to harm Tom in bid to secure his relationship with Daisy (Fitzgerald 88). However, despite all this moral decay, the evil he was planning instead turned to him. He was shot by Gorge and his future was aborted, the past was still following him, his past did not want him succeed despite him denying his past by using all means to grow rich. In addition to that, because his vehicle ran over Gorges wife and he planned to kill Tom because of Daisy, this warranted his shooting (Fitzgerald 80).
Daisy Buchanan is another character who experienced the relationship and torment of the past and still justifies or denies despite living in it. Daisy lived in Louisville prior to the war. In this regard she was courted by Gatsby during that time. Daisy was loved by Gatsby and because Tom Buchanan was a wealthy young man by then, she decided not to wait for Gatsby. Therefore, she decided to get married to Tom hurriedly. However, the past still held her in ransom. This is evident from the love she still had for Jay to the degree that she met him secretly and decided to reignite the love between them. In addition to that, she was given a car to drive and she ended up knocking Gorge’s wife to death (Fitzgerald 95).
Form the novel, its clear that the past can be repeated. What we treasure much from our past dictates what we do in the present and may affect the future. Also, the behavior we portray affect our relationship with others, the society, and disengages us from our future prospects. The nature of behavior wen show when we ascend the ladder especially to a high class of an individual will depict what we went through in our past. Therefore, the past has got power to influence our lives as shown from the characters, regardless of how much they tried to deny it.
Fitzgerald, Francis Scott. The Great Gatsby. NSW Department of Education Division of Guidance & Special Education., 1949.