The Other in Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
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The Great Gatsby is a canonical work of literature. It is found in most of the university curricula and high school programs. In sum, it is a classic of the 1920s. Gatsby is a reflection of that period of gendered, ethnic, and racial tensions. The main characters of the narrative are all from old white established Anglo‐Saxon backgrounds. It is described to be about the suppression of otherness and change required to maintain the illusion of identity. The novel has long been noted for its author’s regional obsession with the East and the West. My aim in the present dissertation is to realize a thematic study of the novel, by looking for the way women, Jews, and Blacks and Orientals are placed in the position of “Other (s)” in relation to the identity of the main characters; an identity the author identifies with, barricades, and tries to maintain its supremacy. As the United States ended the settlement of the West with the closing of the Frontier, the beginning of the twentieth century required Americans to look for a new sense of manifest destiny. The twenties are renowned for their intolerance and broad‐scale nativism. The Great Gatsby is said to be the perfect novel of the Jazz Age, which mirrors its immediate issues. This dissertation is divided into four chapters. The first one is an attempt to put the novel in the context of various tensions which reflect the conservative and nativist character of the decade. The chapter also informs the reader about the major literary orientations and current of the time. It ends with the way the novel is liable to be approached from the point of view of looking for the discourse of Orientalism within it. Chapter II is about the demonstration of Fitzgerald’s ideal notion of male identity which is to be a member of Tom Buchanan’s group. Tom is the stereotyped masculine character who is even “more of a man than” Nick. Nick refuses identification and/or associations with women. Women for Nick/Fitzgerald are weak, irresponsible, absurd, dishonest, and destroyer. Chapter III focuses on the overt and oblique expressions of Fitzgerald’s anti‐ Semitism and dislike of ethnic immigrants. Ethnic immigrants were often linked with the organized crime, and constituted‐by their half whiteness‐a threat to the purity of Anglo‐Saxon identity and the homogeneity of the Nordic element. Nordics for Fitzgerald are responsible for “all the things that go to make civilization”, and are set‐that is my argument‐ in opposition to the Semite or Jewish immigrant who is the anti‐thesis of development. Chapter IV pays attention to the Fitzgeraldian ideal of whiteness and its supremacy, domestic and foreign. The major threat to “civilization going to pieces” is to end by getting “intermarriage of blacks and whites”. This chapter explains the way Fitzgerald associates Gatsby with blackness, and how Gatsby reflects the “natural segregation” of the two races. However, the second half of this last chapter is a suggestion of the study of the novel in relation to the global Western myth of the superiority of whiteness. Blackness in the United States of the time was parallel to what the colonial subject meant to imperial powers. The focus is on references to the brotherhood with English imperialism and to the early imagined geographies of the rising imperial States. N.