America and the Decay of Morality: The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises Introduction

2110 Words 9 Pages
America is a popular image in literature and films. Dozens of writers sought to expose America’s vices and evaluate the consistency of its values, morality, and ethical norms. The pursuit for material wealth and the American dream were the topics most frequently discussed in American literature during the 1920s. The effects of World War I on individual beliefs and ideals, the ongoing decay of morality, the hollowness of dreams and convictions, and the failure to materialize one’s life goals together created a complicated situation, which often resembled a journey for nothing.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises are equally similar and different. The two stories are similar in their commitment
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Americans wander aimlessly in their search for self-satisfaction. Moral standards and ethical norms give way to material things, which determine one’s belonging to the upper social class and define the number and scope of material benefits individuals are willing to enjoy.
In the past, a number of immigrants traveled from east to west in search of their land, what is called The American Dream. In The Great Gatsby, contrary to the frontier spirit, characters move from west to east leaving behind “the dull rectitude” of the west with a hope that they can enjoy eastern cosmopolitan life (Ornstein 140). In this sense, Gatsby is the best representation of how The American Dream worked not for, but against, the social and ethical stability of American society. Now The American Dream represents money in a sophisticated urban life rather than the land, or nature itself. “To Fitzgerald, however, the lure of the east represents a profound displacement of the American dream” (Ornstein 141). Gatsby, a self-made man, views his goal as an extraordinary achievement of wealth and wins Daisy’s love by means of his prosperity. Hardly had Gatsby seemed to obtain Daisy’s love, when he was put to death.
Nick’s comment also demonstrates the failure in the ideal goal: “I see now that this

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