“The uncertainties were over – there seemed little doubt about what was going to happen. America was going on the greatest, gaudiness spree in history. And, there was going to be plenty to tell about it.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Roaring into the 1920’s The years from the end of World War I to 1929 were a time of phenomenal economic progress and change – was a period of amazing vitality and optimism The new “thriving” economy had incredible influence on areas such as religion, political philosophy, dress, morality, and the uses of leisure time. “Play culture” – instant gratification, live for the moment/take care of “now” don’t worry about tomorrow” ideology
A New Way to Live… Work week cut down from 60 hours to 48 hours per week – leisure time supplied to the masses The automobile gave the population mobility – symbol of status The movies offered spectators an easy escape into the worlds not their own. Radio brought the world to the middle class home. Luxury items became “necessities”
A New Way To Live The Volstead Act “created” a new “profession” called bootlegging - smuggling, transporting, and distribution of alcohol. Immigration and racism, and old money vs. new money
“A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, film star beauty for every adolescent girl, and perhaps an adultery for every marriage – these were the promises and the expectations of the Twenties.”
I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!! The “Flapper” – the new woman of the post-war decade
“She is shameless, selfish and honest, but at the same time she considers these three things virtues. Why not? She takes a man’s point of view as her mother never could, and when she loses she is not afraid to admit defeat, whether it be a prime lover or $20 at auction.”
New types of clothes and shoes A shorter hair cut A few naughty habits……
Exploring the American Dream The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald • Was part of the time • Thought about the time • Heard the sounds of the time • Wrote about the time in a way that gave the name “The Jazz Age” • Made literary legend of the time • “lived it out in all its excesses” with his wife Zelda • “almost certainly died of it”
Something to Think about • “That was always my experience– a poor boy in a rich town; a poor boy in a rich boy’s school; a poor boy in a rich man’s club at Princeton… However, I have never been able to forgive the rich for being rich, and it has colored my entire life and works.” -- F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters
Your thoughts… • How do you define the American Dream? What does it entail? What are some of the physical embodiments of the Dream? Is it a myth or is it achievable?
What is the American Dream? • The term was first used by James Truslow Adams in his book The Epic of America which was written in 1931. He states: "The American Dream is "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." (http://memory.loc.gov/learn/lessons/97/dream/thedream)
In the United States’ Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers: "…held certain truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Might this sentiment be considered the foundation of the American Dream?
Some say, that the American Dream has become the pursuit of material prosperity - that people work more hours to get bigger cars, fancier homes, the fruits of prosperity for their families - but have less time to enjoy their prosperity. Others say that the American Dream is beyond the grasp of the working poor who must work two jobs to insure their family’s survival. Yet others look toward a new American Dream with less focus on financial gain and more emphasis on living a simple, fulfilling life. Thomas Wolfe said, "…to every man, regardless of his birth, his shining, golden opportunity ….the right to live, to work, to be himself, and to become whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make him."
The American Dream • TOPIC + What the author is saying about the topic = THEME • What point is Fitzgerald trying to make about the American Dream in his novel? What is he saying about the 1920’s? • How do each of the main characters in the novel represent some aspect of the American Dream?Tom and Daisy, Nick, Jay Gatsby, Myrtle and George, Jordan