The Great Gatsby: Social Class Separation

The Great Gatsby: Social Class Separation

In his book, Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald talks about many themes such as justice and power as well as greed and betrayal and the American dream and more. However, of all the issues that Fitzgerald has talked about in the book, no theme is more developed as the theme of social stratification. Thus, the Great Gatsby is regarded as the best piece of art that helps people to know life in America in the 1920s.

Nonetheless, Fitzgerald categorically presents his novel in distinct groups. Be it as it may, in the end, each group has its problem to deal with leaving a powerful reminder of what a precarious place the world is. He systematically created distinct social classes- old money, new money, and no money to send a strong message about elitism running throughout every group in society.


Fitzgerald starts his piece of art by attacking the rich in society. As much as he is going after the rich, he and his characters believe that placing all the wealthy individuals in the same category is a mistake. Fitzgerald, in The Great Gatsby, put the wealthy into two different groups. The first category comprises of Buchanan and Jordan Baker who were born in affluent families. The wealthy families are thought to have held the richness for quite several generations and hence called “old money.” The “old money” individuals rarely work but spend most of their times pleasing and entertaining themselves with fancy things. Daisy, Tom and Jordan represent, what I will call the most elite group in the story. The elite group had brought about the element of distinction on other rich individuals such as Gatsby on the grounds of not how much money has but on not only the origin of the money but also when the money was acquired.  Based on the argument brought forward by the elite group in the novel, then Gatsby and other individuals who had recently acquired their wealth can be hated by the “old money” individuals.

The social elite led by Daisy and Jordan and Tom is perhaps right in more than one ways. The “new money” individuals cannot be like the “old money”. The “old money” individuals are not only judgmental but also superficial to the extent that they fail to see the importance of the people that surround them as well as themselves. Rather, they live their lives to show off their wealth and superiority in society. On the other hand, the “new money” individuals are not so different or better than the “old money” individuals. In that line of thought, think about all those partygoers that used to attend Gatsby party and drink his liquor as well as eat his food. They never even bothered to meet their host and disappeared the moment Gatsby died. It would be possible to assume that the “new money” individuals would be not only careful but also sensitive to the world around them but unfortunately, they do not. Unfortunately, according to Fitzgerald, the “new money” individuals tend to live by the day without thinking of what tomorrow brings.

Similarly, Fitzgerald uses people without money to send a powerful message to his readers. Although Nick comes from a family that is somehow better in terms of wealth, he is not as wealthy as either Gatsby or Tom. However, towards the end, Nick portrays himself as not only an honourable but also a man with principles, something that Tom does not exhibit at all. On the other hand, Myrtle comes from a middle class at best.  She, just like many others are trapped in the valley of ashes and spends most of her time struggling to succeed and remove herself from that valley. Myrtle is doing all she can to move up the social hierarchy which ultimately leads her to have an affair with Tom, who is at the top of the regime. This arrangement seems to work in her favour for she becomes happy about it.

The misery pervading Myrtle’s life makes her break her moral obligations and cheat on her husband to get the life that she badly yearns. However, she does not realize that Tom and his friends will never let her in to their circle. Tom has the habit of picking and sleeping with women from a lower-class. He does so because he perceives them as powerless and thus making him superior. To Tom and those people that he stands for, Myrtle is nothing more than just a toy.

Fitzgerald has portrayed himself as having the eagle’s eyes and in The Great Gatsby, he presents a harsh but realistic picture of the world that is around him. The 1920s was the beginning of the growth of the economy after the war and Fitzgerald captured the frenzy of the society in an immense way. Be it as it may, Fitzgerald could not have, of course, seen the collapse of the stock market in 1929, but the world that he portrayed in The Great Gatsby headed to that direction. People have failed to see the bigger picture but confined their minds to think that survival entirely depends on the stratification and reinforcing social boundaries. Erroneously, people place their faith in powerful externalities such as money and materialism and forgetting the most important of all, compassion and sensitivity.