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Thus, human life becomes worthless compared to the omnipotence of materialism

Thus, human life becomes worthless compared to the omnipotence of materialism

Day demonstrates how values and morals have retreated, becoming money-branded by the assistance of immigrants:

Likewise, in Main Street there are multiple instances of Kennicott’s preferring money to his patients‘ welfare. 32 However, the seemingly critical Carol is not so very different from the doctor: she is fond of things, beautiful, elegant things. She is far more extravagant than her husband (74). In fact, she even thinks of having “a stated amount – be business-like. System” (76). The fragmentation of the previous sentence into two emphasizes the rigidity as well as the disharmony of such a materialist system which turns marriage into a mechanical and emotionless entity. George Duhamel, a French author, describes his visit to America in 1928 during which he underscores the negative change it has undergone because of modernity masked by industrial civilization:

As yet no nation has thrown itself into the excesses of industrial civilization more deliberately than America. If you were to picture the stages of that civilization as a series of experiments made by some malign genie on laboratory animals, North America would immediately appear to you as the most scientifically poisoned of them all (Duhamel, 1931 , p. xiii).

In the same fashion, the narrator’s xenophobia is obvious in this situation whereby Gatsby is presented as a home wrecker and someone who promotes materialism

This industrial civilization is fueled, principally, by capitalistic thought, which becomes a collective one: in Main Street Gopher Prairie has a kind of a gentlemen’s agreement when it comes to business: a mutually beneficial convention. Since Dr. Kennicott makes his money in the town, he is expected to spend it in the town. Although the doctor claims that Jenson is “tricky” and Ludelmeyer is a “shiftless old Dutch hog,” he would like Carol to “keep the trade in the family” (103).

Mass production of automobiles has also contributed to demeaning American values: “the reckless way Dr. Gould always drove his auto, the reckless way almost all these people drove their autos” (265). Paul Gagnon connects Ford’s cars, the symbol of modernity, with the dissolution of American values and marriage: “Did not Fordism mean mass production [. ] Were his cars not the universal symbols of prosperity? Were they not helping to change the behavior, including the patterns of courtship and marriage, of an entire generation?” (Gagnon, 1962 , p. 439). Unquestionably, modernity has invaded even small towns such as Gopher Prairie: Carol’s small town thinks not in “hoss-swapping but in cheap motor cars, telephones, ready-made clothes, silos, alfalfa, Kodaks, phonographs, leather-upholstered Morris chairs, bridge-prizes, oil-stocks, motion-pictures, land-deals, unread sets of Mark Twain, and a chaste version of national politics” (273). This list-note the unread sets of Mark Twain-confirms that as mass production spreads, once-cherished values decrease.

How strange it sounds in such an age when there are such tremendous exigencies in the varied estate of mankind demanding money-money to furnish men, money to change the face of nature, money to apply healthful, natural, and moral laws, money to inspire self-respect and courage, money to supply our nation, appallingly increasing in immigrated ignorance, with educated citizens. How passing strange in such a land and age for an intelligent man to become alarmed at permanent gifts of five billions in fourteen years to all of these causes (Day, 1907 , p. 253).

Such love of material goods is also obvious in The Great Gatsby. Gatsby tries to seduce the already-wealthy Daisy by demonstrating his own obvious wealth: first by showing off his house; then, by throwing “rich” shirts before her: “shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel [..] shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids” (99). He obviously succeeds in making an impression: she cries “stormily” acknowledging that she has never seen “such-such beautiful shirts before.” This incident does not imply Daisy’s affection to Gatsby, but rather, it reveals her materialism, and his. This fact is demonstrated by Nick’s later notice concerning the obvious change in Daisy’s voice, about which Gatsby enlightens Nick that it is “full of money” (129). Nick admits that Gatsby is right: “That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money-that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals‘ song of it […] High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl.” Daisy’s voice sounds like money and Nick’s observation goes beyond the sound of her voice until all of Daisy becomes golden. This “transformation” of a person turning into a rich, metallic substance points to materialism per se. It enfolds one until it cancels one’s being: it is the gold which talks, laughs, behaves; not one of the human sentiments prevails-no heart, no love, and no real emotions. That is, he uses material in order to attract a married woman.