The Concept Of The American Dream In The Great Gatsby

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The idea of the American Dream is treated in a similar way in The Great Gatsby. Nick perceives Gatsby as “so peculiarly American” and can be considered for much of the novel as the embodiment someone seeking the American dream. (Fitzgerald 64). However, when Gatsby is killed, and “nobody came” to the funeral, the reader comes to the conclusion that the American Dream is an impossible one (176).

Part of the allure of both of these characters is their personal aesthetic. However, while Dean Moriarty’s style is depicted as an authentic representation of his character, Fitzgerald suggests that Jay Gatsby’s aesthetic is part of his pursuit of the American Dream and is, therefore, inauthentic. From the beginning of Gatsby and Nick’s friendship,
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Sal says of Dean Moriarty at the beginning of On The Road: “Dean just raced in society, eager for bread and love; he didn’t care one way or another” (Kerouac end of chapter 1 p1). This is reflective of Dean’s hedonistic motivations; seeking satisfaction from the sensual and emotional aspects of human nature. This “Dionysian irresponsibility” manifests in his willingness to steal “cars for joy rides” and “quietly filling the gas tank” in order to ensure the attendant doesn’t catch him stealing fuel (Tytell 421, Kerouac chap 1 p1, chap 6 p2). It can be argued that Dean’s hedonism stems from being the son of “one of the tottering bums of Larimer Street” and spending his youth in reform schools where his “speciality was stealing cars” leaving him able to escape the rigid societal indoctrination of the late 1940s and 1950s and able to pursue his quest for “the ragged, ecstatic joy of pure being” (chap 6 p1, end of chap 3 p3). Dean’s hedonistic motivations contribute to the perception of his authenticity. We consider authentic behaviour that which represents deeply held feelings, values, aspirations and opinions (Robinson 720). The rejection of social convention for the pursuit of happiness that Moriarty displays throughout the text is representative of emotion and aspirations being of central importance, encouraging the reader to deem him authentic.

In comparison,
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The notion of Moriarty stealing cars for fun is repeated with frequency throughout On The Road, he laments when he and Sal are in Denver: “every precinct in town knows my fingerprints from the year that I stole 500 cars” (Kerouac p3 chap8). For Moriarty, the car is a symbol of freedom, allowing him to cross country in his quest for joy. Of the countless hitched rides and cars in On The Road, the most significant is the 47’ Cadillac limousine that Dean and Sal drive from Denver to Chicago. The “Cadillac was a distinguished American marque” symbolizing the hard earned success of those who had achieved the American Dream (Heitmann 167). By the end of the trip, Dean’s reckless driving has reduced the beautiful car to a “muddy heap” that the owner’s mechanic does not recognize (Kerouac chap 3 p 10). By destroying this symbol, Dean demonstrates his rejection of the social institutions that governed America of the time. Dean’s unwillingness to uphold this symbol of America, in preference the mad enjoyment that driving gives him, strengthens the idea of his

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