Everyone wants to be successful in life, but most often people take the wrong ways to get there. In the 1920s the American Dream was something that everyone struggled to have. A spouse, children, money, a big house and a car meant that someone had succeeded in life. A very important aspect was money and success was determined greatly by it. This was not true in all cases however. The belief that every man can rise to success no matter what his beginnings. Jay Gatsby was a poor boy that turned into a very wealthy man, but did he live the American Dream? Money is actually the only thing that Gatsby had a lot of. Jay Gatsby tries to live the life of The American Dream, but fails in his battle. From his early years Gatsby has his eye one Daisy and throughout his life he is deeply in love with her, but he never marries or even has a life with her. Another one of Gatsbys goals in life was to be an extremely successful, just like his model Dan Cody, but that plan ends up failing as well.
As a part of what Dan Cody taught him, Gatsby attempted to go into business with a man named Meyer Wolfsheim, but failed at that also. For such a long time Gatsby has had his eye on Daisy and has been in love with her, but this does not. Gatsby has always gazed at the green light on Daisys porch. Jordan Baker says,”Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be across the bay.”(page 79). The color green is traditionally a symbol of hop and youth and that is what Gatsby is hoping to find beyond it. When Gatsby and Daisy meet, he tells her about how he has watched the green light that burns at the end of her dock. For so long that light has been a symbol of his dream, of something he has wanted more than life itself. Gazing at it so much, Gatsby must have believed that if he could only have Daisy he would be eternally happy.
In chapter four he suddenly has her and the light is just a light again. It doesnt seem that Daisy could ever be as wonderful as Gatsbys dream of her. Dreams, sadly for Gatsby are most often longed for rather than made a reality. Gatsby never ends up getting with Daisy his shining star in life, much of what he lived for. In his younger years, Gatsby worked on the south shore of Lake Superior earning room and board by digging clams and fishing for salmon. One day he saw the beautiful yacht of the millionaire Dan Cody and borrowed a rowboat to warn Cody of an impending storm. Cody took the seventeen-year-old boy on as a mate, and secretary. When Cody died, he left the boy, now Jay Gatsby, a legacy of $25,000. Unfortunately Gatsby never got the amount of money that he deserved because Codys wife stole most of it.
On the day that he saved Dan Cody’s yacht, he must have seen an embodiment of everything he wanted. In a strange sort of way Gatsby never believed that he was just James Gatz. He had an idea of what he wanted to be. Gatsby had an image of himself, to which he gave the name Gatsby. From the day that he met Dan Cody he decided to dedicate his life to the development of the idea of himself that existed in his head. Although he was successful at making money in business, Jay Gatsby was never able to become a man as successful as Dan Cody who had everything he wanted in life. The experiences with Cody however, helped Gatsby to later pursue a job in business. We are introduced to the business side of Gatsby in the person of Meyer Wolfsheim. Wolfsheim is modeled on the real-life figure of Arnold Rothstein, the man who helped fix the 1919 World Series.
Through Wolfsheim, we learn about Gatsby’s connections with a shady underworld, and we begin to understand for the first time where Gatsby’s money comes from. The discovery of Gatsby’s unsavory business dealings may taint his dreams question his “greatness.” Gatsbys involvement with Meyer Wolfsheim caused his whole idea of the American Dream to be shattered. With these shady business dealings Gatsby could never succeed in life. A combination of bad luck, not being outgoing, and getting into bad dealings leads to Jay Gatsbys failure at the American Dream.
Even though he had the money and house that he needed in order to have Daisy fall in love with him, Gatsby had no idea of how to let her know he was in love. If Gatsby had tried to be more like himself than he possibly would have had a greater chance of succeeding in life. For Gatsby truly did fail. At a point of his life when he had a minimal amount accomplished, he was shot in cold blood by Tom Buchannan while taking his first swim ever. After all the American Dream is not for everyone in life, many did not succeed at fulfilling it in the 1920s when is was so popular. Maybe not all poor men are meant to magically have success in life?