The word “careless” sums up one of the most important ideas in the book. Nick refers to Jordan, Tom, and Daisy as careless in one form or another. Their actions are careless and they are careless people. This is due to the ease of their life, an ease that Fitzgerald traces back to Civil War times. In The Great Gatsby, wealthy people enjoy the decadent lifestyle of the roaring twenties that many of the writers of this era were criticizing: the mindless, indulgent, irresponsible lifestyle where consequences are just an afterthought, and other people are used and discarded. Fitzgerald uses these characters to expose the “upper crust” and their selfish actions, and, in a broader sense to critique the American Dream that fueled their excesses and arrogance.
Fitzgerald’s story shows the clear delineations between different social/ economic classes: new money/ old money, “the haves”/ “the have-nots.” How are readers to interpret his comments on each of these groups? Does he hold any one group above the other? Are there ways in which people of all groups are alike? What are Fitzgerald’s views of the American Dream, social class, and “equal opportunity”?