The Poor Gatsby

This past year, I was bought a copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic The Great Gatsby. The book was a particularly luxurious edition, with a suitably art deco dust jacket and smooth, cream paper, the words printed in a pleasant mid-20th-century Dante font. I need to move with the times and start using my Kindle, but books like this hold me back.

The plot itself revolves around a number of wealthy, young characters, including the spoilt Daisy, the arrogant Tom, the sneering Jordan and the opulent Jay Gatsby himself. Their lives are one long hedonistic party, moving from one luxury home to another, from one round of socialising to the next. They have so much, yet not one of them appears happy or content. Are rich people really like that? The likes of me know so few, I base my assumptions upon well-written novels rather than lived experiences. Gatsby’s world for all its fresh flowers, beautiful mansion, fast cars and live music is decadent and hollow. I am not sure the novel hosts any truly content or happy persons; what a miserable life they had:

There was music from my neighbor'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. 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 motor-boats slid 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.

Today’s world is far richer than that of the Roaring Twenties. Our magnates are wealthier, their corporations more global, the rewards more dazzling. I should also add that the human heart is just as empty, the rambling mansions just as lonely, the smart clothes just as pointless. Wealthy Solomon observed that God has placed eternity in man’s heart, which means that temporal things can never satisfy, they can only ever accompany and supplement. Life without Christ always will be as hollow if all we live for are ‘things’. If you seek happiness, you’ll never find it. If you seek Christ, it gets thrown in for free.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Image from Pixabay