How many people do you need for a party? Andy Warhol once said, “One’s company, two’s a crowd, and three’s a party”. According to Warhol’s definition, Jay Gatsby spent most of his life at a party. Therefore it makes sense for F. Scott Fitzgerald to use the extravagant parties Jay Gatsby throws for his friends in The Great Gatsby to showcase the important values during the 1920s. The get-togethers Jay Gatsby throws for his friends show the important values of the characters during the time period such as money, power and class.
Jay Gatsby’s parties show the characters valued money. He often throws lavish parties for his friends where no expense is spared. Jay Gatsby attempts to fulfill the characters love for money by supplying every possible luxury to his guests:
There was music from my neighbour’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens, men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.
Prices start at $12
Prices start at $11
Prices start at $10
At high tide in the afternoon, I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his two motor-boats slit the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam. On week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains. And on Mondays eight servants, including an extra gardener, toiled all day with mops and scrubbing-brushes and hammers and garden-shears, repairing the ravages of the night before. (Fitzgerald 39)
This quote demonstrates the great lengths Jay Gatsby goes to as a host to provide his guests with everything they could ever want and need while also using the opportunity to show his great wealth.
Jay Gatsby’s parties exhibit society’s value of power. During the events Jay Gatsby throws for his friends, he is always in a powerful position. Most men in the roaring twenties felt in power when they were showing off their strength or dominating the conversation. Jay Gatsby is different. He feels in control when he is hidden among his peers, watching from afar: “[…] and this man Gatsby sent over his chauffeur with an invitation. For a moment he looked at me as if he failed to understand. ‘I’m Gatsby,’ he said suddenly. ‘What!’ I exclaimed. ‘Oh, I beg your pardon.’ ‘I thought you knew, old sport.’ […] He smiled understandingly — much more than understandingly” (Fitzgerald 48). This quote shows Jay Gatsby’s comfort in remaining out of the limelight and how he maintains a powerful, although very unorthodox, position during the parties he throws for his guests.
Jay Gatsby’s parties show that class is very important to the characters. It is apparent that the guests value class because only the elite attend Gatsby’s extravagant parties. The reader can infer that the characters value class when the author states, “I had been actually invited. A chauffeur in a uniform of robin’s-egg blue crossed my lawn early that Saturday morning with a surprisingly formal note from his employer” (Fitzgerald 41). This quote demonstrates the obsession with class because not only does the narrator seem genuinely surprised to be invited to such an exclusive event, but he is invited in such a manner that shows how lavishly and royally the usual guests to Jay Gatsby’s parties are treated.
Money, power and class are central values to Jay Gatsby’s friends and can be seen by the parties he throws. These values are still extremely important in today’s society. Many hosts, and people in general, still attempt to portray these values to their guests and friends to prove their worth; there is no limit on how far people will go to become accepted. No matter whether it’s a crowd of two or a party of three, social events showcase the current values that are important to society.
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