The 1920s is the decade in American history known as the “roaring twenties. ” Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is a reflection of life in the 1920s. Booming parties, prominence, fresh fashion trends, and the excess of alcohol are all aspects of life in the “roaring twenties. ” The booming parties in Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby reflect life in America during the 1920s. Gatsby displays his prominent fortune by throwing grand parties. From next door, Nick Carraway witnesses the scene of Gatsby’s fabulous summer parties:
There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and women came and went like moths among the whisperings of champagne and the starsOn week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city, between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all the trains (Fitzgerald 43). Gatsby’s house illuminates, the jazz music blares for the entire town to hear, the bubbly is served, and the guests dance until one A. M. The parties are “roaring.
Gatsby’s parties display the way Americans socialized and the lifestyle they lived during the 1920s when “Americans danced to the decades joyous music at a frantic and accelerating paceAmericans began to improvise leisure time activities that had no purpose other than having fun. People roared through the decade intent on enjoying every exciting moment of it”(Nash 370). Life in the twenties consisted of fun, fun, and fun. Americans partied like there was no tomorrow. Gatsby’s parties reflect the way society partied in the 1920s. Americans threw expensive never-ending galas. One result from the grand parties and riches was the gain in fame.
Prominence in The Great Gatsby is imperative for life in Long Island and also reflects 1920s America. Gatsby throws magnificent parties, boasts about his car, and flaunts his costly materials. Gatsby’s materials and riches result in his vast popularity. During one of Gatsby’s parties, Nick becomes intrigued when he overhears a group gossiping about Gatsby. The gossip “was a testimony to the romantic speculation he inspired that there were whispers about him from those who had found little that it was necessary to whisper about in this world”(Fitzgerald 48). Gatsby’s fortune and parties cause great speculation and gossip all over Long Island.
The “talk” is based on his materials. The materialistic nature during the twenties was everywhere. Some Americans embraced it and some attacked it. For President Calvin Coolidge and his followers it was embraced: “Sharing so visibly in the wealth of society, more and more Americans came to feel that the booming Coolidge economy was working for them”(Nash 379). The wealthy nation satisfied materialistic Americans and Coolidge became a prominent leader. For American writers, materialism was attacked and “they questioned the society that placed more importance on money and material goods”(Nash 390).
Leading to their fame in literature, the writers who were concerned with American materialism moved to Europe. Materialism lead to prominence in 1920s America just as it did in The Great Gatsby. Gatsby’s prominence is an aspect of how Americans used materialism in the 1920s. One way materialism is shown is through fashion. The fashionable clothing flaunted in The Great Gatsby is an example of life in the 1920s. Gatsby’s parties are used as a spacious “catwalk” for men and women to exhibit the latest and most expensive designer wear.
At one of Gatsby’s parties, Lucille, a young female guest, chats with Jordan and Nick about an expensive new gown she received. She states, “When I was here last I tore my gown on a chair, and he asked my name and address-inside of a week I got a package from Croirier’s with a new evening gown in itIt was gas blue with lavender beads. Two hundred and sixty five dollars”(Fitzgerald 48). Lucille expresses the importance of brand, the detail, and the price of the evening gown. All of these aspects determine the fashionable from the unfashionable.
Another aspect that determined high fashion in the 1920s was fads. Fads were spread throughout America and “the 1920s could be called the age of fad-a sudden explosion of interest in some product”(Nash 382). Interest in fashion exploded throughout the nation. Certain styles became favorable. Fashion is an important aspect in the novel The Great Gatsby. The men and women who use Gatsby’s home as a fashion show demonstrate 1920s Americans flaunting their clothing. Fashion is not the only asset to society during the “roaring” decade. The infamous liquor plays another very strong role.
The consumption of alcohol in The Great Gatsby directly reflects the way of life of Americans at the time. During each of Gatsby’s parties, the entire social event revolves around serving, tasting, and excessively drinking alcoholic beverages. At the beginning of one of Gatsby’s parties, Nick examines the scene: “The bar is in full swing and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside until the air is alive with chatter and laughter and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names”(Fitzgerald 44).
The alcohol that is served has a major effect on the guests. Their evening revolves around how much they drink. Nick, too, indulges himself at one of Gatsby’s parties and describes his experience: “I had taken two finger bowls of champagne and the scene had changed before my eyes into something significant, elemental, and profound”(Fitzgerald 55). Nick’s perspective on the evening has changed in an instant. In 1920s America, alcohol was just as important as it is in the novel The Great Gatsby.
In America everyone was rebelling to Prohibition. Despite the law, “women who had not been allowed to drink in saloons went to the new speakeasies, where men and women gulped down Prohibition’s new drink, the cocktail”(Nash 398). Americans drank liquor when they and where they could. The consumption of alcohol in the 1920s was significant just as it was in The Great Gatsby. The amount of alcohol served at Gatsby’s parties and in general is an illustration of the overindulgence of alcohol during the 1920s.
The drinking, the parties, the rich and famous, and the fashion elite make up not only Gatsby’s life but the 1920s as well. Lavish parties, prominence, stylish clothing, and the surplus of alcohol are aspects that frame 1920s America. The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a direct reflection of the lives of American during the time. American history will always know the 1920s as the “roaring twenties” due to the spontaneity and rebellion that existed. It is no reason the decade is known as “roaring. “