Jay Gatsby: Friend or Fraud?

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In class we discussed the many reasons we read literature and one was the common humanity we can take away from texts. In Gatsby, I found a kindred narrative within the rag to riches story of James Gatz and the creation of his persona, Jay Gatsby.

I think to some extent we all come with a persona and feel the anxiety that comes with keeping it up. When we first come to college, at some capacity we all share a deep seeded fear that we will be “found out”. Such thoughts as: “Maybe they will find out I’m not as smart as I seem.”, “Maybe everyone will find out I’m not good enough to be here.”, etc, etc.

In James Gatz’s case, I found the same. He fears he will be found out by the old-money elite. He shares his past with Nick as if it is a deep, dark secret and that is exactly why I believe he lets the general populous and party guests believe the dramatic rumors they circulate about him (like the German spy one).

So was Gatsby just a fraud? A creation of James Gatz’s dillusions of grandeur? Or do we all to some degree shape our public personas?

2 thoughts on “Jay Gatsby: Friend or Fraud?

  1. baileydolloff

    As we discussed last class, I think Gatsby functions as a symbol of a main problem depicted in the novel which envelopes, not just him, but all of the characters. Gatsby symbolizes the problem with the American Dream, because, even though he achieved it in its basic form, he is not satisfied. This is because he has his priorities wrong. He can’t enjoy his lavish possessions, as he is preoccupied by stress and the false notion he must impress by way of personal wealth, status, and material things. His love for Daisy seems shallow and if he realized that he could have spent less time worrying over putting on a show for people. Also, I believe that if Jordan wasn’t so dishonest, she’d be more comfortable. If Tom stopped trying to impress people with his money and power and supposed superiority, he likely wouldn’t be so hateful. If Nick spoke his mind and didn’t hide his disapproval, perhaps the sad ending of the story could have been avoided, but it is unfortunately human nature to put on these masks.

  2. tselmuun319

    I think his strange yet extraordinary affection for Daisy was probably the major reason why James Gatz created his Jay Gatsby persona. In fact, James Gatz despised his own low social class to begin with, abandoning his own family to reinvent himself. So when he met Daisy, she symbolized everything James Gatz wanted to fit himself in – old money. Daisy was the embodiment of old money – charming, beautiful, wealthy, famous and classy. Moreover, Fiztgerald often describes her as a Golden Girl, which I think symbolizes old money or high social class.
    So Jay Gatsby could be a result of James Gatz’ extreme dislike for his true identity, an illusion that he can escape the reality. He’s neither friend nor a fraud, just somebody who is really insecure of his social standing in the materialistic era of 1920s.

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