Life and Society in The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and published in 1925. I liked the fact that this novel accurately depicts what life was like in the 1920’s, and the types of people who lived it. The setting of this novel takes place in New York, and the area in which the main character, Nick, lives is set in West Egg and East Egg. Both of these cities are considered to be wealthy cities. West Egg, where Nick has a home, is considered to be “new money,” while East Egg, where his cousin, Daisy and her husband Tom Buchannan live, is thought to be “old money.”

West Egg is the type of city in which people have earned their money and East Egg is where people have inherited their money from older generations. However, Nick’s neighbor, Jay Gatsby, is known to be the wealthiest of them all. He lives in a humongous mansion and throws parties almost every weekend where anyone is free to attend.  An example of how this novel reflects the conventions of the time period, the 1920’s was known as the “Roaring Twenties,” and the types of parties held signified how careless people were about spending money and that they did not care about ruthless behaviors.

Another example would be that one of the important characters in this novel, George Wilson, lives in an area known as the “Valley of Ashes,” a place where the poor working class live. In the Valley of Ashes, the eyes on a billboard of one of the wealthiest citizens, Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, seems to always watching the entire city. George Wilson believes that Eckleburg is a God after stating “God sees everything” while looking at the billboard. This signifies that the national religion of the United States during the twenties was business and wealth instead of God Himself.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel as this precisely described how life was like in the “Roaring Twenties” with many people becoming wealthy due to the economic boost and how those people were being careless with their money and behaviors. Also, George Wilson believing that the wealthiest are like Gods was also interesting and accurate. However, due to many careless spending, this would ultimately lead to the crash of the stock market and the rise of the Great Depression starting in the 1930’s. I would recommend this book because of how it relates to the accurate history in the United States that occurred and the outcome.

-Matt J

The Great Gatsby is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive and Hoopla

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

yellowwallpaper_charlotteperkinsgilmanThe Yellow Wallpaper is a short fictional story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It was written in the late 1800’s and tells the story of the daily life of an average woman living in the late 1800’s. The main character’s name is not revealed, but is referred to as The Narrator. The narrator is suffering from postpartum depression, which is condition where women are ill or depressed after giving birth and seeks to find help.

I really enjoyed this short story as it related to the reality of women being treated poorly and unequally. Back then, men believed that women should just stay put at home and do nothing because they did not want them to stress about working hard shifts like men did. They also believed that women should not be educated because it will make them even more stressed. In The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator does have a male physician to make her feel better, but the physician only tells her to do nothing at home and did not even bother to give her any medications as physicians would normally do in today’s world.

While she is at home, the narrator starts having hallucinations as she sees yellow wallpaper. She stares mysteriously at it and believes that the color carries horrible symbolism. She believes that the yellow wallpaper is intriguing as it gives her something to do in her life rather than sitting and doing nothing all day. This relates to sarcasm and the average woman living in the late 1800’s because it relates to how women had nothing to do everyday and was desperately looking for a hobby that intrigues them; although, staring at a wallpaper would not intrigue anyone. Considering how she is at a state of having hallucinations, she does not notice that she is actually in a house that is meant for the mentally ill as the beds are similar to those of mental hospitals. Also, another example of how she is suffering from hallucinations is that she believes that the physician is actually her husband. Overall, I would recommend reading this story as it was very interesting due to how it influenced thought on the treatment of women and how it should be changed.

-Matt J.

“I, Too” by Langston Hughes

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“I, Too”, written by Langston Hughes, is a short poem/book that influences the equality of the African-American culture. “I, Too” is one of the most significant poems written considering how this poem has changed peoples’ views toward African-Americans. Also, since February is considered Black History Month, many people around the world celebrate and remember the important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. That being said, Langston Hughes, would be one of the most important people to remember for Black History Month as he would influence African-Americans’ equality by his style of writing. Hughes also described the rich culture of African-American life using rhythms influenced by jazz music.

This poem was written during the time where the significant Harlem Renaissance was occurring. The Harlem Renaissance was when many African-American writers, artists, and musicians would gather and present black culture to white audiences for the first time. The sentences in this poem are very short;however, they are very significant as well. Hughes writes, “They send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes… Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table when company comes. Nobody’ll dare say to me, ‘Eat in the kitchen,’ then.”

These sentences are very significant as it shows that the character is standing up for his/her self and believes that equal treatment should be the answer. The final sentence in the poem is, “I, too, am America.” This is also very important as it describes pride in the African-American culture and that they are part of the people of America and not known as “things.” I really enjoyed this poem as this poem has changed many views of people throughout the world.

-Matt J. 11th grade

“I, Too” by Langston Hughes is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

hunger_games_coverThe Hunger Games contains very important characters by the names of Katniss, Peeta, Gale and Prim. Katniss in my opinion, was the most dynamic character in this novel. She transforms from a very obscure girl whose sole job is to simply take care of her mother and younger sister Prim to being a “hero” and a victor, alongside with fellow competitor Peeta. Katniss volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games in her sister Prim’s place.

The Hunger Games is focused primarily on action, but partially romance as well. The plot was very well thought out and written as it maintained suspense throughout the entire novel. There were many instances where Katniss and Peeta were almost murdered by other rivals during the games and whether or not they would survive long enough to win this horrific competition.

I really admired the fact that Collins put a ton of emotion into these characters for their willingness to survive and take care of their loved ones which would make the readers actually care about them. The ending was redemptive as Katniss and Peeta were both able to win the Hunger Games.

The style of this novel was rather easy to read. Adjectives I would use to describe Collins’ style would be distinct and understandable as this book didn’t use much complex, long words and did not use much of short, simple words as well. Overall, I would without a doubt, recommend The Hunger Games because it puts readers on the edge of their seat as the story becomes more intense and suspenseful and even makes the readers actually care about the characters.

-Matt J.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive and Hoopla.