Thinking and Making

english 2 benchmark

Great Gatsby Historicism Criticism Lense Essay

Looking back on books using a Critical Historicism Theory can reveal a lot about the time period they take place in. Through reading “The Great Gatsby” you will see some of the racist and sexist behavior that is a reflection of how American standards were post WW1 in the early 1920s. To narrow it down, chapter two of the book has many questionable moments that may question a character’s morals. A side character in the book Mrs. McKee makes remarks on a Jewish man she was almost wed to and Tom Buchanan smacks his mistress in the face and breaks her nose. Many times in this book, Tom Buchanan and others are painted as a bad character but they are only a reflection of the standards of his time.

In the backend of chapter two but still in the front stretch of the book on page 26, Mrs. McKee was talking to Myrtle Wilson who was Tom Buchanan’s mistress. They began to discuss' 'mistakes'' they made in their lives and as Myrtle finished talking about running out of money in Monte Carlo, Mrs. McKee stated “I almost made a mistake, too,” she declared vigorously. “I almost married a little kyke who’d been after me for years. I knew he was below me. Everybody kept saying to me: ‘Lucille, that man’s ‘way below you!’ But if I hadn’t met Chester, he’d of got me sure.” (Fitzgerald 29) She made this statement in reference to her nearly marriage a man of Jewish descent but chose to refer to him as a kike which is a term you can go your whole life without hearing nowadays. This was before World War 2 as well so this term was not considered as negative as it sounded. To her it may have been no different then calling a black person colored or negro, but non the less, it was an uncalled for act of racism.

Not long after Mrs. McKee speaks on her “mistake” on the last lines of page 28, Myrtle Wilson the mistress of Tom Buchanan began to annoy him by saying the name of his wife repeatedly and he struck her for it. “Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand.” (Fitzgerald 28) During the time Tom was drunk and did it without a thought but during the early 1900s hitting your wife or in Tom’s case “women” was considered normal. Back in these times it was socially acceptable to two-piece women serving cold chicken at dinner because she was home all day and this is all she had to do. Nick did not make any sly or shocked remarks or reaction to this in his narration but rather treats it as an insignificant act and proceeds to talk about an elevator boy. If something of this caliber were to happen now, Tom would be jailed and sentenced before he could finish swinging his hand, but once again Mr. Buchanan is a reflection of the standards of his society and what he was taught or grew up watching happen.

Taking into account all that has been discussed, it is safe to say that there was a more openly sexist and openly racist society during America's past. Through reading “The Great Gatsby” you will see some of the racist and sexist behavior that is a reflection of how American standards were post WW1 in the early 1920s. Chapter two has some of the earliest and most prominent examples of this much more openly prejudiced society, but it is all throughout the book and can be seen in almost every chapter. This book is like a picture back in time that we can look into and see the darker past of this country.

Should you hit ya women i don't know man

You should never even if you are a grown man

Prolly shouldn't hit her cause you drunk yo

Go and take a break for a minute why you mad bro

Think how'd you like it if she hit you

Know you would like it at all cause you isn't meant to

Know you would like it at all because its mental

If she had you pinned to the wall would you have been through

In The Great Gatsby we get lots to talk about and i never understood it all perfectly

But I understand all the injustices that take place from chapters 1 2 and 3

Tom hit myrtle who was his mistress so i know he isn't getting nothing but coal for Christmas

And Mrs. McKee didn't marry a man bc he was Jewish yeah she was racist, he was dismissed

These aren't the worst things to ever happen but they were some of the biggest wrongs of the past

Racism and sexism were the worst things to happen to the world and Americas dead last

On the list of the countries with the lowest amounts of racism and sexism in the past century

And i cant tell a lie about how it all started but i can be sure that its ends with you and me

I feel like this story was one for the ages to look and reflect on what was happening in the roaring 20’s

Hit’n your women was common in the 20’s and it wasn't for a joke it was never very funny

I don’t think that tom and Mrs. McKee were bad people for what they did in private

But i think if tom beat her across the face again Mr. Wilson would start a riot

by sammed monk

I made this poem with the story "The Great Gatsby" in mind. I think it was a very good book and there are some moments that reflect more upon the times than the characters. There were points in chapter two where they were racist and sexist but although out there were moments like this. I chose to analyze this part of the text because it helped me analyze the time period and what it was like. They even had an elevator man who was stationed there, which hasn't been popular since the 1960's. This revealed how society was back in the 1920's and shows the difference between the two time periods.

When: may 2021


What to Wear: nothing

Do's & Don'ts: steal my work without emailing me or i will get you done down

Journal Entries

I did not do an entry for chapters 1-3

Chapter 4-6:

What language/characters/events present in the work reflect the current events of the author’s day?

In this book they speak a little differently than us. I can't say it was old-timey like medieval, but it was a lil weird. The text reads, "“I thought you didn’t, if you’ll pardon my — You see, I carry on a little business on the side, a sort of side line, you understand. And I thought that if you don’t make very much — You’re selling bonds, aren’t you, old sport?” If you read this you might understand it after 2 or 3 tries, but he's simply saying "I has a side business". It took him 3 sentences to say a 5 word phrase and he used the term "old sport" which sounded like a 1920 British movie to me.

Chapter 7-9:

How is the relationship between men and women portrayed and what does this say about a woman’s role in society?

They are portrayed as money leaches in my eyes because they dont make any money yet ask to do and go while the men are out and about working. The text says, {"I don’t see the idea of going to town,” broke out Tom savagely. “Women get these notions in their heads ——” “Shall we take anything to drink?” called Daisy from an upper window. “I’ll get some whiskey,” answered Tom. He went inside. Gatsby turned to me rigidly: “I can’t say anything in his house, old sport.” “She’s got an indiscreet voice,” I remarked. “It’s full of ——” I hesitated. “Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly.} In this chapter it also talks about how Daisy would have married Gatsby but he was broke before he went to the army. Daisy is portrayed as a money snake aswell. She blames Gatsby for vehicular manslaughter even though she was driving the car and goes back with tom.


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