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What do Gatsby's parties symbolize in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby?"?

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Quick Answer

Jay Gatsby's parties in "The Great Gatsby" represent the lavish lifestyle and exuberance often expended by newly wealthy people. In contrast, Daisy, Tom and the society of East Egg symbolize old aristocracy and families with a long tradition of wealth.

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Full Answer

One of the many themes explored by F. Scott Fitzgerald in "The Great Gatsby" is wealth and its relation to society. Gatsby, his enormous mansion, expensive cars and larger-than-life parties represent his foray into upper-class society. Fitzgerald portrays the new money culture as gaudy and vulgar; those associated with the label often lack social cues and graces so revered by those in the old money society. Corruption is also shown at the parties, from bickering couples to cheating husbands.

Gatsby's parties are luxurious yet over the top, with a seemingly unlimited supply of champagne and entertainment. He hosts the parties to gain the attention of and win back his lost love, Daisy, who lives just across the river in East Egg. However, though his house is filled with people, most of the attendees don't even know who he is, showing the hollowness and shallowness of the American dream and also of the upper class. This concept is further expanded when only a few people attend Gatsby's funeral, though hundreds have previously attended the parties for purely superficial reasons.

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