Narrative Essay

Submitted By John_digiorno
Words: 689
Pages: 3

The Great Gatsby, published in 1925, is hailed as one of the foremost pieces of American fiction of its time. It is a novel of triumph and tragedy, noted for the remarkable way its author captures a cross-section of American society. In The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald, known for his imagistic and poetic prose, holds a mirror up to the society of which he was a part. The initial success of the book was limited, although in the more than 75 years since it has come to be regarded as a classic piece of American short fiction. In 1925, however, the novel served as a snapshot of the frenzied post-war society known as the Jazz Age, while today it provides readers with, among other things, a portal through which to observe life in the 1920s. Part of Fitzgerald's charm in The Great Gatsby, in fact, is his ability to encapsulate the mood of a generation during a politically and socially crucial and chaotic period of American history.

To understand Fitzgerald's genius more fully, one must be aware of the politics that underlie the story. To remove the story from its full historical context is to do it a grave injustice. The novel, published in 1925, explores life in the early- to mid-1920s. Politically speaking, this was a time of growth and prosperity, as well as a time of corruption. World War I, the first war of its kind anyone had ever known, had ended in 1919. When Warren G. Harding assumed the presidency in 1920, one of his goals was to bring the country back to business as usual. However, this proved to be a difficult task because Harding's administration was plagued by scandal and corruption, as well as opposition mounted by both unions and organized crime.

After WWI ended, Harding's administration targeted business as a means of rebuilding the country. What this entailed, however, included undermining striking laborers and largely siding with management in labor dispute issues over such things as minimum wage, unions, child labor, and so on. In addition to favoring management in labor disputes, Harding and his successor, Calvin Coolidge, enacted tax legislation that benefited the wealthy more so than any other group. In addition, because of administrative policy decisions, industries such as agriculture, textiles, and certain types of mining suffered greatly, and as a result, cities grew as people moved to urban areas to make a living. Many of them, however, remained trapped in a purgatory of sorts, looking for a better life but unable to get it, not unlike the people in The Great Gatsby's valley of ashes.

Economically, the 1920s boasted great financial gain, at least for those of the upper class. Between 1922 and 1929, dividends from stock rose by 108…