The Great Gatsby: Behavior and the Failure to Pass in Society

Hannah Stroup Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Hilene Flanzbaum Butler University
Jay Gatsby attempts to pass for old money and assimilate to a different social status; however, his passing is unsuccessful because he has behaviors that give him away as an imposter. There are two types of rich people in the novel: the people like Tom and Daisy, who were born into the old money environment and fit into their roles effortlessly; and Gatsby, who is not able to infiltrate this high-class environment because he was not born into it. Instead, he must constantly perform his role to maintain his image of an old-money elite. Gatsby attempts to mimic the behaviors associated with old money in the societal role he wishes to play, but he fails. He is far from the cool and languid Jordan Baker, Daisy and Tom Buchannan, and even Nick. Instead, he is a nervous man who speaks his mind and does not know when to hold back. He cannot successfully pass because he simply does all of the small, yet very important, things wrong. His appearance, his lavishness, his language – he does everything incorrectly. He shows off, completely overcompensating and overdoing the behaviors he believes to be those of the old-money elites, effectively giving him away as an outsider.
Competitive Paper--All Disciplines (includes an Oral Presentation)
Competitive Paper (includes an Oral Presentation)

When & Where

09:45 AM
Jordan Hall 242