The class system is a prevalent form of oppression in both The Street by Ann Petry and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald as the characters aspire to change their lives. Lutie Johnson is a black woman trapped in the cycle of poverty with her son living in Harlem during the 1940s and Gatsby is a man of new money who attempts to woo his past lover, Daisy in the 1920s. Prejudice against people from a different class leads to classicism being one of the main themes of these texts. Classism is able to control society because it is based on the acquisition and owning of money. Social mobility is the movement of people through the social system and their ability to change class or rank in society. The attempts of Lutie and Gatsby to improve their social stations illustrate the rigidity of class organization throughout the early to mid-1900s. This is emphasized in the narrative of each protagonist, their motivations and end goals, and the narrative styles.
Lutie is a single mother who tries to survive the rough streets of Harlem. Living in a world where she is oppressed by white people for being black and by men for being a woman, Lutie works to save herself and her son. She believes money can support her family, even though working in a home away from her own caused it to fall apart. Her working leads to her husband, Jim, having an affair with another woman. His only response was “What did you expect?” (Petry 54) as her firm belief in the idea that money and wealth will make