The Great Gatsby

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Anti-semitism, predjudice

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It is important to note that Wolfsheim, the novel's symbolic representative of the "criminal element," is obviously Jewish: Fitzgerald gives the character a number of stereotypical physical features (a large nose, a diminutive stature) that were a staple of racist caricature in the 1920s. During this period, anti-Semitism in America was at an all-time high: Jews, as a result of their "characteristic greed," were held responsible for the corruption of the nation as a whole. Fitzgerald seems to uncritically draw on this racist ideology in his presentation of Wolfsheim; the character is nothing more than a grotesque stereotype.