“Throughout characters and their careless actions represent the

“Throughout F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, we see how the central characters and their careless actions represent the time period of the 1920’s. The characters threw money away and cast other people aside without a care in the world, so that they may obtain what it is that they desire. For example, Daisy had tossed Gatsby aside when they were young and in love because he did not have the money to support her lavish lifestyle. Years go by and Gatsby acquires more than enough money for her, leading him to throw thousands of dollars, if not more, away so that he may present himself in an extravagant manner with massive parties, in the hope that Daisy may one day walk into one and hopefully fall in love with him once more (Fitzgerald). It is exactly this carelessness of squandering money and tossing other people aside, represented in The Great Gatsby, which ultimately led to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The summer of 1929 was when the effect of everyone’s careless actions began to catch up to them, and had taken its toll on the American economy. It was when these people who spent a ridiculous amount of money on numerous different luxuries, began to reduce the amount they spent on purchasing lavish unnecessary items. The trouble with this was that everyone began to cut back at the same time. Soon enough, the once regularly sold out items began to amass in the factories, causing production to slow down, which inevitably caused companies to begin to lose profits. Stockbrokers began to see that businesses all around the nation were losing a considerable amount of money.

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This caused the companies’ stocks to decrease in value, so stockbrokers decided to cheat the system in an effort to prevent the loss of their own money. They decided to raise the prices of several companies’ shares to make it seem as if they were still very profitable. When in reality they knew that the profitability of the companies who issued the stocks was not at all in proportion with the value that they credited the stocks to have.

These stockbrokers figured that eventually companies would become very profitable again, so they did not foresee any negative consequences coming from their actions. This unjust and careless effort to preserve money in the end led to a hugely detrimental event in history known as Black Tuesday. On the morning of Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the stock market caught up with reality and the shares that were supposed to be skyrocketing fell dramatically. Over 16 million shares were traded after panic took its toll on Wall Street. Some of these once hundreds of dollar shares were sold for merely a few pennies a piece, and any gains had been completely lost (“Black Tuesday”).Just as the stockbrokers had fabricated the prices for some shares in a desperate attempt to cling to past times of prosperity, Gatsby does the same while earning his tremendous fortune to win back Daisy.

In an effort to make an extreme amount of money in a very short amount of time, Gatsby carelessly allows himself to be caught up in the illegal business of bootlegging. He even brags to Nick Carraway about his accomplice, Meyer Wolfsheim, and how he had “fixed the World’s Series back in 1919” (Fitzgerald 74) as if it was some big accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated. Despite all of Gatsby’s connections, power, and money his primary focus has always been to give Daisy happiness and comfort. So later in the book, after having run over Myrtle, Daisy is terribly upset and Gatsby’s only concern is for Daisy’s well-being and how the accident is affecting her. He assures Nick that he is planning to take the fall for Daisy, no matter how careless it seems just because he loves her that much. Unfortunately, Gatsby fails to see that his relationship with Daisy is never going to become as he dreamt it.

This is because Daisy is far too shallow of a person who is really only comforted by the assurance of money around her. This shallowness causes her not to take a chance with Gatsby, but rather to stay with Tom. Gatsby, sadly, even after carelessly throwing all of those astonishing parties was not able to win back his heart’s deepest desire, Daisy (Fitzgerald). Tom Buchanan, similar to the stockbrokers, was looking out for only his own interests when he convinced Mr. Wilson that Gatsby was the one who hit and killed his wife Myrtle. It was after slowing down to see what the commotion was that Tom, Nick, and Jordan went over to see that Myrtle was dead. Tom then makes his way to Mr. Wilson who is hysterical and is under the impression that it had been Tom who had run down his wife.

Fitzgerald illustrates how Tom makes very quick work to convince Mr. Wilson that “a friend of his,”(142) meaning Gatsby, was the one who owned the “yellow car”(141), that this “friend” (142) hit her and “didn’t even stop” (143). By doing this, Tom carelessly plays with the lives of two men, Mr. Wilson and Gatsby. He hastily comes to the conclusion that it was Gatsby who killed Myrtle, and by doing this he arranges for Gatsby to be murdered by a deranged man who had just brutally lost his wife. He does this all so that he does not have to face the competition that Gatsby is giving him for his own wife, when in reality it is Daisy who actually killed Myrtle (Fitzgerald).

On top of the stock market crash, the U.S. economy of the late 1920s and early 30s was struck with yet another crucial blow further leading it down the path toward the Great Depression. This blow to the economy came in the form of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. The Act was intended as a way to quickly protect American agriculture; however, it backfired and dramatically hurt American businesses.

The Act raised tariffs on imported foreign products, basically forcing its citizens to buy American made products, because they were cheaper. Additionally it had forced foreign nations to pay higher prices to buy American made products. Congress’ plan worked for a while before the other countries became discouraged and unable to purchase American made products. These other countries had to even implement their own high tariffs in order to balance out the money lost when buying American products. That is until they stopped purchasing many American products all together. This caused U.S. businesses to become even worse off than they were before, due to diminishing international trade worldwide (Sinha).

Congress’ carelessness of looking for a quick fix to America’s economic problems of the 1930’s is a perfect representation to how Gatsby tries to formulate a quick fix to his situation with Daisy. When Gatsby speaks on behalf of Daisy to Tom in the hotel room telling him that “your wife doesn’t love you. She’s never loved you. She loves me”(Fitzgerald 131), he is trying to convince not only Tom and Daisy, but himself as well, that the past five years, when he was not with Daisy, did not truly count for anything. He even goes as far to say, “Can’t repeat the past?..

. Why of course you can!”(Fitzgerald 111) essentially under the impression that if he does not like how something turned out, he can just undo it as if nothing happened at all. In this way Gatsby carelessly casts aside those past five years as if they were of no significance to anyone else’s lives, especially Daisy’s and Tom’s (Fitzgerald). Throughout the 1920s and early 30s, many people in higher classes had made many careless mistakes that led America down the route toward the Great Depression.

These mistakes being the stockbrokers mismanagement of the stock market by falsifying the value of shares in many companies’ stock causing the dramatic economic failure known as the stock market crash of 1929. This led Congress to pass the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in an effort to persuade Americans to buy American made products, but instead led to international trading to significantly reduce between the U.S. and other countries. The careless acts of throwing people and money aside to achieve what they wanted, from both The Great Gatsby and from the real world in the 1920s, only led to the dramatic meltdown of the U.S.

economy known as the Great Depression. Works Cited”Black Tuesday.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Tripod.com, 22 May.


Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 1986. Print.Sinha, Surabhi. Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.

Encyclopaedia Britannica. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica, inc. 2 Aug. 2016.

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