The Role of Food in The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath Essay

837 Words 4 Pages
Eating and drinking is not only a necessity, but also a pleasure. Humans have known and experienced this since the beginning of man. Food plays a very important part in everybody’s daily life. However, the role of food in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work The Great Gatsby and John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath vary immensely. The complexity and need for sustenance differ between the books, but both reflect the events, viewpoints, and attitudes of the time periods they are set in.

The complexity of food and drink changes from book to book. Extravagant and sophisticated food and drink litter the background in The Great Gatsby. For instance, chapter three of The Great Gatsby describes “buffet tables, garnished with glistening
…show more content…
Chapter 3 incorporates a description of five crates of oranges and lemons arriving at Gatsby’s house, amongst many other elaborate food items (Thomas, 2010). These guests take notice of the lavish dishes scattered about the house, but further mentions of indulgence in his cuisine never surface. Also, the story never references Gatsby eating. His body never seems to experience physical hunger. Instead, emotional hunger pervades his mind. Gatsby yearns for Daisy’s love. His made up world engrosses him so much that actual food never is a must. However, the Joads find food immeasurably necessary. To them, sustenance is just that: a way to sustain themselves. Their meals deliver minimum nourishment, but it is just enough to keep them alive. It maintains their strength both physically and mentally. Meals offer time for the family to connect and inspire confidence in each other. Bonding occurs during mealtimes. In addition, they reassure one another that everything will be all right, no matter how dreadful their situation becomes. Food only provides somatic nutrition for the individuals in The Great Gatsby, but the characters from The Grapes of Wrath need food for both physical strength and emotional stability.

The role of food also pertains to the time period in which the stories take place. The Roaring Twenties, a period of American prosperity and optimism, provides a backdrop for The Great Gatsby. Food closely parallels the wealth
Open Document