The Original: Females
Does the book contain one or more female characters? Yes
Do these characters have names? Yes: Daisy, Jordan, Myrtle, Catherine, Lucille
Do these characters talk to one another? Yes
Do they discuss something other than men? Yes. Travel (p.34)
Other-Though Fitzgerald seems to be less sexist than many of his contemporaries, the predominant sexist attitude of the time tends to slip through on occasion. For instance, when Nick first describes the lavish parties at Gatsby’s house: “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths” (p.39). One could make the argument that, like many of the wealthy men of today, the men of Gatsby’s parties are attracted to women very much their juniors, and therefore, Nick is simply describing the party-goers as he sees them. However, when speaking about his lover Jordan, this bias becomes clearer: ”Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply” (p.58). Clearly, Nick can’t hold Jordan to the same moral standard as he would a man, because she is just a weak woman. The last sexist moment doesn’t come from Nick, but rather from Tom. Tom serves as the window character to show some of the more repulsive commonly held views of upper class society members of the day. Near the end of the novel, Tom makes Daisy drive home with Gatsby shortly after Gatsby reveals to him that he is in love with Daisy and that he intends to run off with her. For some reason, Daisy agrees, showing that both she and Gatsby are powerless in the face of Tom. To add insult to injury, Nick tells Gatsby after the fact, ”I don’t think she ever loved him…You must remember, old sport, she was very excited this afternoon. He told her things in a way that frightened her” (p.152). Ah, yes. Women are known to betray every emotion and relationship they’ve ever had once they get excited, just like a dog that urinates on itself.
Does the book contain one or more characters of a minority race? Yes: “A Finnish woman, who made my bed and cooked breakfast and muttered Finnish wisdom to herself over the electric stove. ” (p.4)
Do these characters have names? No.
Other: Fitzgerald uses Tom to show the worst traits of upper class society, therefore making him a racist, along with many other things. Tom goes on and on in long rants about his views of minorities: ”The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be–will be utterly submerged…It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out of these other races will have control of things;” ”Nowadays people begin by sneering at family life and family institutions, and next they’ll throw everything overboard and have intermarriage between black and white” (p.130). This racism also extends to Myrtle, Tom’s mistress, but to a lesser extent: ”I almost married a little kike who’d been after me for years. I knew he was below me” (p.34). However, the idea that Fitzgerald is using racism as a literary device falls through once the narrator starts saying things a bit off color: ”As we crossed Blackwell’s Island a limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish negroes, two bucks and a girl. I laughed aloud as the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry” (p.69); ”A pale well-dressed negro stepped near” (p.139).
Does the book contain one or more gay characters? No.
Does the book contain one or more lower-class characters? Yes and no. The book is aware of lower class characters, and even pitches Nick as one of them, as he is not super rich. However, someone whose parents pay for him to take a year off after college to find himself is pretty far from poor by any standards. The book constantly refers to these characters, but treats them as mythical creatures that they’ve all been told about in fairy tales: “One thing’s sure and nothing’s surer / The rich get richer and the poor get—children” (song p.95). Oh plight of the lower classes, you’re so funny.