The Great Gatsby

The African American Dream

Social class plays a dominant role in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. In fact the title character is living proof that the American dream really exists. Readers recognize the importance Fitzgerald places on social class throughout the novel, but for the purpose of this essay, I will examine how Fitzgerald links social class with race through his portrayal of African American characters in the novel. The notion of the African-American dream would have been a fairly new one in the 1920s, but since the black characters in the novel are paired with Jay Gatsby, it is plausible to think that they would triumph and suffer in the same way Gatsby did as a result of their newly found achievements. This theme can be traced through the actions of Tom Buchanan and in the two scenes that black characters are present in the novel.

The Great Gatsby in set in New York during the Harlem Renaissance, a period of artistic explosion within the black community, so racial issues are bound to be present in the novel. Tom Buchanan voices his opinion about those people outside of the white race. By referring to The Rise of the Colored Empires and stating its ideas - "if we don't look out the white race will be. . .utterly...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 747 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4490 literature essays, 1451 sample college application essays, 183 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in