The Great Gatsby, The 1920s, and a Drifting Era The decade of the 1920s was a transitional, restless era. Moral values were changed dramatically after the first World War, creating a time in which people were adrift, wandering through life, and wondering what was in their future. This restlessness and drifting feeling that many people experienced throughout the 1920s is skillfully captured by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his 1920s novel, The Great Gatsby. Through his description of landscapes in this novel, Fitzgerald incorporates a floating, unsettled tone, which was the tone of the 1920s. In order to add emphasis to the theme of drifting,
Fitzgerald tells his story through the narrative of an unstable drifter, Nick Carraway.
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“Two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon...their dresses were fluttering as if they had just been blown back from a short flight” (12). There is a sensation that nothing is stable; everything is restless. This very much describes the life that Daisy, Tom and Jordan lead - on the edge, doing whatever pleases them. This description is a foreshadow, predicting the carelessness and instability of the characters’ lives, and the consequences of their attitudes. At the end of the book, when Daisy hits Myrtle Wilson while driving Gatsby’s car, she and Tom are able to carelessly run off. They are able to forget about the incident that just occurred, forget about how it ruined others’ lives. Their careless attitudes and great wealth keep them stable no matter what they do, so they can run off and leave their mistakes, however grave, behind. The description of Jordan also summarizes her attitude towards life - careless and restless. There are rumors of her cheating in golf matches, and “[leaving] a borrowed car out in the rain with the top down and then [lying] about it” (62). Just as
Daisy and Tom, she has careless tendencies, and is able to get away with them by just roaming on through life, leaving them behind. Jordan’s wealth supports her wrongdoing as well. The reference to “anchored” balloons also is symbolic of Daisy and Jordan’s lives. They are described as balloons, which symbolizes their drifting, uncaring