Organized Crime In The Great Gatsby

After the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1820, banning the selling and use of alcohol, bands of criminals across the country rose to satisfy many Americans' need for alcohol and much more. This was the catalyst that ignited a spark of crime that burned in America for decades to come. These criminals hid behind the bustle of everyday life, simply doing their job of organized crime. Whether it be bootlegging, laundering, stealing, or murdering this heterogeneous mix of criminals were all banded together through their ability to bypass getting caught. Organized crime flourished in the 1920s influencing the minds of Americans and prominent works of literature, like F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald's accounts of organized …show more content…
Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Throughout his novel, Fitzgerald explores the ins and outs of organized crime and the impact that it has on the individual and society as a whole during the 1920s. One primary example lies within the main character of Jay Gatsby. Towards the end of the novel, there was a realization within many of the characters that Gatsby, a protagonist, acquired all of his wealth through organized crime. In the novel Tom states "'He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That's one of his little stunts. I picked him up for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn't far wrong," (Fitzgerald 133). This demonstrates how common organized crime was because even Gatsby, who was not necessarily a criminal was able to make money bootlegging. This form of organized crime took over during the Prohibition era as seen through the amount of alcohol still being consumed during parties or at speakeasies. Furthermore, bribery and corruption were another typical form of organized crime that increased in the 1920s. In The Great Gatsby, Wolfsheim served as the gangster figure and represented the corruption that embodied the 1920s as an era of not just Prohibition, but also of organized crime. In the text, readers are first introduced to Wolfsheim as the man who fixed the World Series in 1919 and a gambler (Fitzgerald 73). These traits implied that Wolfsheim was associated with organized crime and that he was almost proud of his achievements. This analyzes the mindset of the people in the 1920s because many people just brushed off the thought of organized crime. They drank the alcohol even though they got it illegally, and they gambled, and they set up businesses to conceal their earning from criminal activity. These individuals did not seem to acknowledge or possibly care about the extent of organized crime

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