In the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, we learn that every character, except Nick and George, uses wealth as a means of happiness, which in turn, gets in the way of their own morals to act as decent, respectable human beings.
Nick Carraway, the main character in the book, seems to be that decent, respectable human being. He is the voice of reason in the story. It is through his point of view that we can distinguish who is corrupt and who isn t. Nick even says he is an honest man, which gives him some credibility. He gives a vivid depiction of each character he meets over that summer, and every one of them except a humble garage mechanic, George Wilson, is claimed by greed and wealth in one form or another.
For Tom Buchannan, his greed came in the form of another woman. The wife of George Wilson, Myrtle Wilson, is his mistress. He is corrupt because he is being disloyal to his wife Daisy and George Wilson. His wealthiness is a reason he is disloyal because he can use his money to get any woman that he wants. Tom is hot tempered, ready to snap at anyone who gets in his way. He is also a racist, always talking about the White Race needing to conquer all.
It s up to us who are the dominant race to watch out or these other races will have control of things. Tom is the perfect example of the kind of amoral people described in the book. Greedy, ignorant and wealthy.
Myrtle Wilson is just the same. She is dishonest towards her husband and speaks highly of herself. But she is one over Tom because she takes him for granted. He is the one buying all of her clothes and beauty accessories. He even went as far as to buy her a dog. This doesn t seem to bother Tom a bit though. At her party in New York, things turn a bit sour though. Tom and Myrtle are fighting about something when Myrtle brings the name Daisy into the argument. Hot tempered Tom gets upset with Myrtle and actually breaks her nose. Myrtle s sister Catherine gives Nick an Interesting piece of information.
Neither of them can stand the person their married to. These two people are probably the most parsimonious pair in the book. They love each other one minute and hate eachother the next, being dishonest and disloyal to anything and everything around them.
Daisy is closer to being less of a prude than Myrtle, but she is still underhanded because of her affair with Gatsby. She has an innocence about her, but as the story goes on, her immoral attributes start to shine through. In the end, Daisy didn t even call Gatsby, and she let him take the blame for the auto accident that killed Myrtle.
Well I tried to swing the wheel- He broke off, and suddenly I guessed at the truth. Was Daisy driving? Yes, he said after a moment. Even though Gatsby was willing to make the sacrifice for Daisy, Daisy was nowhere to be found when Gatsby needed her most.
Finally, Jay Gatsby, the man who gives his name to the book, has a different kind of selfishness to him than any of the others. All of his work, whatever it may be, all of his success and all of his parties, even though seeming like a nice gesture to other people, were done for something that he wanted for himself. But what he wanted was for someone to be happy with him. Ever since he fell in love with Daisy, he hasn t ever forgotten about her. When Daisy didn t keep her promise to wait for him, he was devastated, but he still didn t give her up. He went to great lengths to impress her and win her back from Tom. He even kept newspaper clippings of her. His efforts didn t go to waste, however. Daisy did end up having a small affair with him. So Gatsby was amoral to Tom.
Daisy, that s all over now, he said earnestly. It doesn t matter any more. Just tell him the truth-that you never loved him-and it s all wiped out forever. (139). Gatsby s efforts to be with Daisy went a little overboard. He is trying to tell Daisy how she felt. Maybe he has fooled himself so much that he believes that they were already together.
Throughout that entire summer, Nick was subject to many acts of selfish, dishonest, disloyal, prude and greedy behavior. It s from these people s ignorance that made the end turn out how it did. From Gatsby s parties in his house to the murder that took place in his pool. From the get-togethers in Myrtle s apartment to her tragic death. The time was as corrupt as the people that lived in it. There was never really any hope for the fates that lied waiting for these characters during the summer of 1922. I believe Nick stated it best when he said; They were careless people….they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…. (187). They were careless people, careless in everything except themselves.