Individual development is a product of social value and social control. The story analyzes the impact of social values on individual development. How does social value and control affect individual development? The post war era is depicted through the behavior of Daisy Buchanan, George Wilson, and Jay Gatsby (Fitzgerald). These characters exhibit changes in behavior because of the past experience with the main focus of their behavior being the change of social values to individual preferences and character. The postwar era brought about women who had the desire to struggle for personal happiness, which was not practiced in the society before the war (Tate 33). Before the war, social controls ensured that women dressed and made the hair in a particular way. They were expected not to participate actively in parties, but the novel brings out the various issues in the post war era affecting women and men.
The character Daisy Buchanan is typical behavior of a post war women behavior. Buchanan refuses to marry Gatsby because she wants someone who his wealthy and does not care. She successfully marries Tom, a wealthy carefree man who makes the life miserable. Despite the lack, of happiness in marriage, the striking part in the marriage set up is the ability to stay together because Daisy values the personal independence (Henriques). In the concluding of the story, Daisy admits that she does not love the two men in her life because she only loves money. The women in the postwar era knew what they want and went for it just as Daisy did in the story. The change of perception brought by the war is evident in Daisy’s character, because she even attends dance parties, which are events that women did not attend.
In addition, postwar era brought men who were not in sync with their environment especially the returning war soldier who did not fit well in the society and seem to live their own life. George Wilson depicts this behavior perfectly. George is married to Myrtle who appears to control the husband. The novel depicts George as blond, spiritless man who is faintly handsome. The inability to work and appearance to live a unique life makes George similar to the war soldier, returning from the war that is unable to fit into the society (Tate). The author describes George as a dumb person without the understanding that he is alive. Despite being dumb, he manages to kill the car driver who ran over his wife showing the power of revenge and the desire to rectify his life. However, his character does represent the tired and misfit characters that existed during the postwar era.
Gatsby character reveals fear and the inability to take action and fight for a love. This reveals a character that was prevalent in the postwar era. Several challenges existed for Gatsby, but he did not overcome the challenge to live with Daisy. Even though, he almost won her heart back, he never took any initiative to communicate with Daisy. The inability to take responsibility makes Gatsby a coward, and in the final event, he loses his life and long term love (Fitzgerald). The failure to take action and the independence of women in the postmodern era is depicted in the behavior of women in the novel. Majority lived double lives successfully without fear of reproach.
Fitzgerald, Francis Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Interactive Media, 2012.
Henriques, Piers. A Contextualised Analysis of F. Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned and This Side of Paradise. Berlin: GRIN Verlag, 2011.
Tate, Mary Jo. Critical Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. Chicago: Infobase Publishing, 2007.