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.
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) ThemeTracker
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Quotes in The Great Gatsby
"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."
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.
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.