In Fitzgerald’s finest work, The Great Gatsby, the author adopts a reminiscent, acceptant tone in order to highlight the futility of trying to change America further, as it has matured as an entity, as well as to enlighten the world of “the republic[’s]” limitless future, at the same time limited in another way. The time period described in the book happened to the roaring twenties, a time of economic boon and domestic excess, which Fitzgerald realized was the foundation of a huge bust, as well as the foundation of a bad habit, perhaps still widely practiced in the very same republic today.
Fitzgerald believed that the United States had gone beyond a point of return of sorts, as it could never go back to being an infant country, and must take on the responsibilities of the real world. He illustrates this through his use of reproduction and nursing related diction. An “orgastic future” lay in wait for people of the old world who ventured to the new world, drawing many in, only to have a new country “borne” as the United States of America. This country relied on the “fresh, green breast of the new world,” the trees and other natural resources, just as a baby must rely on their mother’s milk. However, those vast forests, those resources had given way to cities, filled with “inessential houses,” which meant the time for the nation to suckle and grow strong naturally was over. Though this seems positive, a negative lies just below the surface. The trees had given way to cities, meaning those trees were gone. That “fresh, green breast,” so alluring and seductive, yet useful was gone by man’s own use of it. Perhaps he wished to point out the fact that eventually these trees and other resources will fade away, and that the “roaring twenties” should give way to a “conservative thirties”—before everything faded away.
At the same time, Fitzgerald uses the night, the darkness therein pierced only by the moon above, in a metaphor for what must happen. As the narrator sat, watching the city, the moonlight made it seem to melt away in his eyes. The moon itself is nearly a metaphor for change, metamorphosis, transition. Also he mentions “the dark fields of the republic,” pointing out the fact that people did not know the limit of their power or resources at that time. The darkness obscured their metaphorical vision to the edges of the field where their limits were clearly set by a tree line or fence or cliff. Should America continue barreling through that dark field, buying incessantly in a whirlpool of consumerism, America would eventually hit one of the obstacles, knocking ourselves out, becoming ensnared, or falling over the edge. Going back the moon reference, the way to remedy this is to put some attention on not stretching our cities too far into the unsettled wilderness, and saving some of those trees in which so much promise lies.
Like many great classics, a great author pens a great book pointing subtly out a great social problem, and The Great Gatsby is no exception. Fitzgerald noticed the spreading over consumerism threatening the nation and world, and strove to rectify the problem. However, it almost seems as though his wise words fell on deaf ears and America continues flying toward the end of its dark field, never sure of exactly where that boundary line may lie, and perhaps, unfortunately, not even caring.
(This was a timed style analysis and one of the last I did. Reflection is in the comments)