With a perfect, “rare” smile, and tremendous wealth, what could go wrong? Before Jay Gatsby expires, he was en route to achieving his version of the American dream. The reader discovers that Gatsby did not have it easy, for outside forces prevented him from ever attaining his dream. All of the “foul dust [that] floated in the wake of his dreams” defeated Gatsby before he could get there (2). Like many writers, Fitzgerald had a point to make. Gatsby assumed the role as a character written to portray Fitzgerald’s theories. Strategically giving Gatsby this “foul dust” to deal with, he writes a beautiful yet tragic story of a man’s triumphs and travails while making it in America. Jay Gatsby illustrates Fitzgerald’s disappointment in the ‘American Dream,’ exactly why the character and the American dream are doomed to fail. Because of his ambitions for bigger and better things beyond North Dakota, James Gatz creates a new persona, Jay Gatsby. James Gatz grew up in North Dakota and “his parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people” (98). Something in him wanted more out life than working as a janitor and suffocating in North Dakota. He meets Dan Cody the wealthy entrepreneur who becomes his mentor. Soon the idea of becoming wealthy like Dan Cody consumes him. Prohibition during the 1920’s gives Gatsby his opportunity.
Thus began Gatsby’s dark path into his bootlegging and selling grain alcohol over the counter of side-street drug stores. Unlike everyone Gatsby surrounds himself with, he began with nothing. Nothing to his new name, and after Dan Cody’s death he knew no one, much less anyone in the East. Unclear at first exactly how Gatsby made his money, Tom Buchanan says, “I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong” (133). People speculate about Gatsby’s real identity because of his massive wealth, over night fame, vague past and his extravagant parties. They begin to invent their own stories about him to explain the mystery. Gatsby himself hints to Nick about his shady character when he says, “Well, this would interest you. It wouldn’t take up much of your time and you might pick up a nice bit of money. It happens to be a rather confidential sort of thing” (82). Fitzgerald purposely gave Gatsby this occupation to further prove his point. It’s sad that to achieve his grand, whole-hearted American dream of money and success, he had to be a criminal.
Class has always divided American societies. In East and West Egg the only thing more important than the size of a persons house, is where they came from. In this aristocratic town, money and status define the people. Jay Gatsby had no choice but to start from the bottom and work his way up the social classes. Without his lies Gatsby never could have fit in. His way of fitting into this tough upper class is flaunting his money and pleasing everyone with his entertainment. In this harsh town where Gatsby is of inferior birth, “He doesn’t want any trouble with anybody” (43). To blend in he stays behind the scenes and pleases the town with his parties. Without his camouflage of Rolls Royce’s and extravagant parties he would be the social pariah.
Gatsby joined the war with nothing to his name and as a soldier, first met Daisy, the intriguing, “full of money” girl (120). Nick Carraway, the narrator describes this time saying, “However glorious might be his future as Jay Gatsby, he was at present a penniless young man without a past, and at any moment the invisible cloak of his uniform might slip from his shoulders” (149). Gatsby was only able to meet Daisy because of the disguise his uniform gave him. Without his uniform disguising his rank in society, the two people from completely different worlds never would have met. Eager for marriage, Daisy could no longer wait for Gatsby who