The Great Gatsby

by

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
Past and Future Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Great Gatsby, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon

The Great Gatsby portrays three different social classes: "old money" (Tom and Daisy Buchanan); "new money" (Gatsby); and a class that might be called "no money" (George and Myrtle Wilson). "Old money" families have fortunes dating from the 19th century or before, have built up powerful and influential social connections, and tend to hide their wealth and superiority behind a veneer of civility. The "new money" class made their fortunes in the 1920s boom and therefore have no social connections and tend to overcompensate for this lack with lavish displays of wealth.

The Great Gatsby shows the newly developing class rivalry between "old" and "new" money in the struggle between Gatsby and Tom over Daisy. As usual, the "no money" class gets overlooked by the struggle at the top, leaving middle and lower class people like George Wilson forgotten or ignored.

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Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) appears in each chapter of The Great Gatsby. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Quotes in The Great Gatsby

Below you will find the important quotes in The Great Gatsby related to the theme of Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money).
Chapter 1 Quotes
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker)
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:
"And I hope she'll be a fool — that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool."
Related Characters: Daisy Buchanan (speaker), Pammy Buchanan
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:
My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this middle-western city for three generations. The Carraways are something of a clan and we have a tradition that we’re descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch, but the actual founder of my line was my grandfather’s brother who came here in fifty-one, sent a substitute to the Civil War and started the wholesale hardware business that my father carries on today. […] Instead of being the warm center of the world the middle-west now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe—so I decided to go east and learn the bond business.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker)
Related Symbols: East and West
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes
This is a Valley of Ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Valley of Ashes
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes
On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold. In the main hall a bar with a real brass rail was set up, and stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Related Symbols: Gatsby's Mansion
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes
“I am the son of some wealthy people in the middle-west—all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition.”

He looked at me sideways—and I knew why Jordan Baker had believed he was lying. He hurried the phrase “educated at Oxford,” or swallowed it or choked on it as though it had bothered him before. And with this doubt his whole statement fell to pieces and I wondered if there wasn’t something a little sinister about him after all.
Related Characters: Jay Gatsby (speaker), Nick Carraway (speaker), Jordan Baker
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
“Meyer Wolfshiem? No, he’s a gambler.” Gatsby hesitated, then added coolly: “He’s the man who fixed the World’s Series back in 1919.”

“Fixed the World’s Series?” I repeated.

The idea staggered me. I remembered of course that the World’s Series had been fixed in 1919 but if I had thought of it at all I would have thought of it as a thing that merely HAPPENED, the end of some inevitable chain. It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people—with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe.

“How did he happen to do that?” I asked after a minute.

“He just saw the opportunity.”

“Why isn’t he in jail?”

“They can’t get him, old sport. He’s a smart man.”
Related Characters: Jay Gatsby (speaker), Nick Carraway (speaker), Meyer Wolfsheim
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:
“Why didn’t he ask you to arrange a meeting?”

“He wants her to see his house,” she explained. “And your house is right next door.”

“Oh!”
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jordan Baker (speaker), Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan
Related Symbols: Gatsby's Mansion
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes
"It makes me sad because I've never seen such — such beautiful shirts before."
Related Characters: Daisy Buchanan (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Related Symbols: Gatsby's Mansion
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
“That huge place THERE?” she cried pointing.

“Do you like it?”

“I love it, but I don’t see how you live there all alone.”

“I keep it always full of interesting people, night and day. People who do interesting things. Celebrated people.”
Related Characters: Jay Gatsby (speaker), Daisy Buchanan (speaker), Nick Carraway
Related Symbols: Gatsby's Mansion
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
We went upstairs, through period bedrooms swathed in rose and lavender silk and vivid with new flowers, through dressing rooms and poolrooms, and bathrooms with sunken baths—intruding into one chamber where a dishevelled man in pajamas was doing liver exercises on the floor.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, Ewing Klipspringer
Related Symbols: Gatsby's Mansion
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:
“If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay,” said Gatsby. “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.”

Daisy put her arm through his abruptly but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said. Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.
Related Characters: Jay Gatsby (speaker), Nick Carraway (speaker), Daisy Buchanan
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes
The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:
For over a year he had been beating his way along the south shore of Lake Superior as a clam digger and a salmon fisher or in any other capacity that brought him food and bed. […]

A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock ticked on the wash-stand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:
“Who is this Gatsby anyhow?” demanded Tom suddenly. “Some big bootlegger?”

“Where’d you hear that”’ I inquired.

“I didn’t hear it. I imagined it. A lot of these newly rich people are just big bootleggers, you know.”

“Not Gatsby,” I said shortly.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Tom Buchanan (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes
"Her voice is full of money," he said suddenly.
That was it. I'd never understood before. It was full of money—that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals' song of it.
Related Characters: Jay Gatsby (speaker), Nick Carraway (speaker), Daisy Buchanan
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
“She’s not leaving me!” Tom’s words suddenly leaned down over Gatsby. “Certainly not for a common swindler who’d have to steal the ring he put on her finger.”

[…]

“Who are you, anyhow?” broke out Tom. “You’re one of that bunch that hangs around with Meyer Wolfsheim—that much I happen to know. I’ve made a little investigation into your affairs—and I’ll carry it further tomorrow. […] I found out what your ‘drug stores’ were.” He turned to us and spoke rapidly. “He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That’s one of his little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him and I wasn’t far wrong.”
Related Characters: Daisy Buchanan (speaker), Tom Buchanan (speaker), Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, Meyer Wolfsheim
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes
"They're a rotten crowd," I shouted across the lawn. "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together."
I've always been glad I said that. It was the only compliment I ever gave him, because I disapproved of him from beginning to end. First he nodded politely, and then his face broke into that radiant and understanding smile, as if we'd been in ecstatic cahoots on that fact all the time.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:
However glorious might be his future as Jay Gatsby, he was at present a penniless young man without a past, and at any moment the invisible cloak of his uniform might slip from his shoulders. So he made the most of his time. He took what he could get, ravenously and unscrupulously—eventually he took Daisy one still October night, took her because he had no real right to touch her hand.

He might have despised himself, for he had certainly taken her under false pretenses. I don’t mean that he had traded on his phantom millions, but he had deliberately given Daisy a sense of security; he let her believe that he was a person from much the same stratum as herself—that he was fully able to take care of her. As a matter of fact he had no such facilities—he had no comfortable family standing behind him and he was liable at the whim of an impersonal government to be blown anywhere about the world.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:
“Did you start him in business?” I inquired.

“Start him! I made him.”

“Oh.”

“I raised him up out of nothing, right out of the gutter. I saw right away he was a fine appearing, gentlemanly young man, and when he told me he was an Oggsford I knew I could use him good. I got him to join up in the American Legion and he used to stand high there. Right off he did some work for a client of mine up to Albany. We were so thick like that in everything—” He held up two bulbous fingers “—always together.”
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Meyer Wolfsheim (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:
I shook hands with him; it seemed silly not to, for I felt suddenly as though I were talking to a child. Then he went into the jewelry store to buy a pearl necklace—or perhaps only a pair of cuff buttons—rid of my provincial squeamishness forever.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis: