How has Fitzgerald used cars as a motif in the novel The Great Gatsby?

Topics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Automobile, The Great Gatsby Pages: 2 (1007 words) Published: November 17, 2014
How has Fitzgerald used cars as a motif so far in the novel of The Great Gatsby?

Fitzgerald creates a clear motif throughout the first few chapters of The Great Gatsby, surrounding cars and their effect on society and the characters in the novel.

The first introduction we have to the vehicles is in chapter two, in the run-down description of the Valley of Ashes. Fitzgerald writes “occasionally a line of grey cars crawl along an invisible track, giving out a ghastly creak”: describing them as one body and comparing the difference between rich and poor during 1920’s America. The Valley itself represents the effect of the rich’s consumerism on the country and the line of cars, as one, could perhaps show the poor’s inability to establish their own status when following the crowd, consequentially appearing bleak and uninteresting. The noise created by the vehicles body suggests the difficulty of living in poverty in New York at that time, particularly when in such close proximity to those who have everything. “The motor road hastily joins the railroad…so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land”- this portrays the divide between wealth and poverty, how the ‘superiors’ use transport to distance themselves from anything poor and below them. This idea is developed through Myrtle, a character that is from the valley yet uses Tom Buchanan’s wealth to her advantage, and whose ideals shift once she leaves her home. At the garage, the only car there is described as a “dust covered wreck of a Ford”, portraying the mass production of cars such as the Model T, and creating a comparison against the car she chooses later in the chapter “she let four taxicabs drive away before she selected a new one, lavender-coloured with grey upholstery”. Her ability to be so particularly selective once in the hands of the wealthy shows the security and safety that money provides. Later on in the book, this develops as Gatsby is relied on to supply vehicles for those at...
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