Trending Failure of Selfish Society

How does "Gatsby" mirror society now in it's downfall

Nathan Quade

Barrington High School

October 2012

Overview

In a world plagued with a neglectful, careless, and parasitic populous, the material stature of modern society threatens to collapse. As shocking as it may seem, the current sociological trends observed modern society reflect many similarities with the 1920s era "Gatsby" society. These societies are both characterized by the inability to address present problems, the obsession with irrelevant topics, and an inordinate amount of carelessness. The patterns exemplified in both societies demonstrate debilitating characteristics, and can lead to eventual destruction. Both the current events of modern times and the story of "The Great Gatsby" are ridden with evidence of characteristics consequential to societal failure. It is imperative for these trends to be discerned as an impending crisis. There is frequent correlation of the behavior and conditions in a population and that population's success. Such triumphs throughout history like the American Revolution demonstrate the success resulting from an ambitious, aspiring population. Inversely, disunity and negative sociological trends in a population will consequently lead to a downfall, like in the Roman Empire. Amending this flawed social fiber would require years of social progress, which seems like an insurmountable challenge. At the present rate, the demolition of society is but an inevitable fate attributed to the defective social behavior.

The Demise of Modern Society?

Both modern society and the high society of "The Great Gatsby" are associated with inherent carelessness. This theme of carelessness is evident throughout the entire novel, and can be seen in various forms when observing modern society. A famous example from the novel "The Great Gatsby" involves Jordan Baker, a member of the wealthy upper class and her view on driving. She confesses “They’ll keep out of my way,” she insisted. “It takes two to make an accident.” (Fitzgerald 58). This quote demonstrates her general and complete disregard. When driving, she ignores the safety of herself and other drivers, relying on others to ensure avoidance of an automobile accident. Too many of these careless people in one population will cause inexorable ruination of the society. This behavior has a great deal to do with the eventual failure of high society in "The Great Gatsby". Unfortunately, similar characteristic can be seen in demographics of civilization today. One example would be the excess amount of individuals irresponsibly partaking in driving under the influence. In 2010, 1.4 million Americans were arrested for driving under the influence, and noted, that statistic only includes arrested individuals. It is fearful and of great danger that a society would contain such a concentration of careless individual. Alarming statistics in many other categories display corresponding results. Littering (shown below) shows a rising trend in the U.S., only further establishing the presence of careless, self-centered individuals in society. There is no possibility of a modern society succeeding with this handicap existing in it's population.

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The careless act of littering is a growing problem in the United States, further demonstrating the sociological trend of the populous becoming more careless.
The inability to address current problems plagues the story of "The Great Gatsby", as it does in modern society. This crippling incapability is a constant throughout the novel and can be viewed today in many tiers of our complex civilization. The model of the inability is demonstrated in governments neglecting domestic predicaments as they spend time and money in irrelevant, useless affairs. The storyline in Great Gatsby follows Tom and Daisy Buchanan, who incessantly ignore their problems and continue to stumble through their purposeless lives. They faced marital problems among other obstacles while in Chicago, and all that was done to attend to the problems was move to a new place. Fitzgerald digresses (on Tom and Daisy) "they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness..."(Fitzgerald 188). This shows the pattern these type of people from Gatsby's society have to deal with their problems, as they repeatedly destroy their environment and relationships and do nothing to compensate. At the end of the story, Tom and Daisy move to another place after the death of Gatsby, instead of staying to make peace with the past and fix their problems. The existence of this characteristic is undeniable, and it drove the society to failure. Adversely, the same incapability from "The Great Gatsby", that leads to a failing society, is found in modern times. The lack of proper infrastructure in the U.S. caused lives to be lost in hurricane Katrina in 2005. New Orleans's levy system was outdated and needed to be upgraded, but failure to complete that task caused many deaths from the storm. Additionally, the involvement of more developed countries with unnecessary foreign affairs exemplifies the inability to address problems in modern society. As present problems are ignored, conflict continues to build. This characteristic of a society will not allow domestic progress and will contribute to the destruction of itself, as it happened in "The Great Gatsby".
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The levees were broken due to the hurricane, this should have been attended to because of New Orleans's vulnerability.

A Reminder, A Warning

Let the example of a selfish, careless, and inefficient population within a society from the novel "The Great Gatsby" serve as a warning for the potential demise of a society. As a member of the populous in distress, may it be ever apparent that the fate of the inhabited society depends on one's unconditional kindness, caring, and atonement. The foundation of a successful society is consequential to the characteristics of a population. Currently, the ultimate failure of our modern society is imminent, and the salvation of society is contingent to the general awareness of how possible failure is in it's current state, as epitomized in "The Great Gatsby".