The Great Gatsby

How are the excess of times 1920s shown in the beginning of description of chapter 3


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Fitzgerald gives great attention to the details of contemporary society: Gatsby's party is both a description and parody of Jazz Age decadence. It exemplifies the spirit of conspicuous consumption, and is a queer mix of the lewd and the respectable. Though catered to by butlers and serenaded by professionally trained singers, the guests are drunk, crude, and boisterous. The orchestra plays a work by Tostoff called The Jazz History of the World; though it had had a fantastic reception at Carnegie Hall, the piece is the antithesis of classical respectability.

At the time of The Great Gatsby's publication, cars were still novelty items; in the novel, they are imbued with a sense of luxurious danger. A car accident disturbs the end of the party, when a drunken man crashes his car into a ditch. Nick admonishes Jordan for being an unspeakably awful driver, and her near-accident serves as a metaphor for the behavior of her contemporaries. Jordan is a careless driver because she considers caution the responsibility of others; she feels that the onus is on them to keep out of her way.