The concept of "new" and "old" currency is difficult for the average modern reader to understand. In most parts of the country, the term 'nouveau riche' is not used often, and with the onslaught of new internet millionaires and billionaires over the past decade, judgment has come down. certainly no longer there. America today values the self-taught man or woman, the story of 'rags to wealth'. A person who makes a fortune is smart and innovative, an entrepreneur. She is someone to admire.
However, this has not always been the case. There was a time when building one's own fortune was seen as crude, and only the kind of wealth that came to this country on the Mayflower was valued. In the 1920s, the East Coast, particularly New England and New York City, was a land of the haves, have-nots, and had long before the haves. This is the setting for F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel, The Great Gatsby.
In Gatsby's world, the difference between old and new money isn't just a theoretical divide, it's a physical divide. The 'old money' elite (including Jay Gatsby & # 39; s favorite Daisy Buchanan) live in the East Egg neighborhood, while the new rich riff-raff, including Gatsby himself even, are relegated to West Egg. To the uninformed observer, the two eggs are virtually identical, but for the respective inhabitants of the eggs, differences are apparent everywhere. Whenever Gatsby visits the Buchanans in East Egg, he may as well wear a large red "EE" (a new type of scarlet letter) on his lapel.
The social divide between Gatsby and Daisy has been a hindrance to their relationship from the start, and when Gatsby came out to make his fortune as a young man, he did so with the dream of winning Daisy as his motivation. He ends up getting incredibly wealthy and has the house, the clothes and the parties to show it. The only problem? The love of her life, Daisy, married Tom Buchanan in the meantime, and it seems all of his work has gone for nothing.
Those who believe that Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby as a social and economic commentary see the novel as an allegory, an uplifting account of the dangers of the pursuit of wealth. Their take on one of Great Gatsby's most famous quotes, "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future this year after year is drifting away from us. It escaped us then, but this Doesn't matter – tomorrow we'll run faster, we'll stretch our arms further … And one fine morning – "is guided by this notion. The green light, they say, represents money, and the quote demonstrates the futility of pursuing it. There will always be someone richer; the race has no finish line.
But if that was the case; if Gatsby was just a mercenary, and Daisy a symbol of what he could achieve with his wealth, Nick is unlikely to love him that much. "You're worth it," he tells Gatsby, despite he "completely disapproving" of the Gatsby way of life. If the reader trusts Nick's judgment and believes he is truly as honest as he claims to be, his loyalty to Gatsby (loyalty to the end – Nick ends up being the one) one of the only people to attend Gatsby's funeral) must be worth something.