The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald And The Sun Also Rises

1061 Words5 Pages
Materialism is one of the fundamental American attitudes and encompasses a wide array of desires, such as those for power, wealth, and excess. As outlined in L. Robert Kohls’ piece “The Values Americans Live By,” the value of materialism is used in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, to illustrate how collecting or consuming an excess is used in attempts to stave off regret. Characters in both novels show how far Americans take this, and help to perpetuate Kohls’ ideas regarding self-indulgence and its effect on people and their relations with others. In The Great Gatsby, the character of Jay Gatsby acts a great example of American acquisitiveness, due to his tendency to turn to material wealth for comfort. An important part of his past was having his family die and leave him a large monetary inheritance, which only made him yearn for more money. When Gatsby is explaining to Nick his life, he says “‘After that I lived like a young rajah… collecting jewels, chiefly rubies, hunting big game, painting a little, things for myself only, and trying to forget something very sad that had happened to me long ago’” (Fitzgerald 65-66). This shows how he spent his time securing these treasures and focused only on himself, in an effort to forget about an event that troubled him in the past: a regret. The use of the word “trying” in the quote is important, because it implies that his attempts to forget this past event had failed. Yet
Get Access