We like to make generalizations. Generalizations based on race, gender, age, country, state, region, school, time period, etc. However, these generalizations aren’t always true for everyone.
On page 130 of The Great Gatsby Tom, in a moment of anger, says “I know I’m not very popular. I don’t give big parties. I suppose you’ve got to make your house into a pigsty in order to have any friends – in the modern world.” This quote stood out to me because it made me wonder, “What is the modern world?”
See the trouble is that the “modern world” looks very different for everyone so how can we possibly determine how to describe the “modern world”?
It reminds me of the Ted Talk “The Myth of Average” that talks about how we can’t design for an average person, because there is no average person. Everyone is different with a different situation.
The 1920s is often imagined as a time of glamor with lots of parties, but not everyone has the luxury of high society life. Part of the whole purpose of the book is to make you think differently about society back in the 20s. On the one hand there were great extravagant parties, but the people at the parties in The Great Gatsby often had hidden backstories full of greed and cynicism that allowed them to gain money to throw the parties.We even learn that Gatsby himself had a hidden motive as to why he threw his parties: in hopes that Daisy would show up to one and be impressed with him.
All of the glam was like a guise to cover up the hidden motives of all of the individual attendants at the parties. The glam is like a generalization that we try to place on an entire time period, but when you talk to individual people at a party, you learn that every person has their own unique story.