The books "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Hurston, are both examples of text where the main characters strive to reach their dreams. Similarly, both Gatsby and Janie are searching for love. Gatsby has found his love for Daisy, but he can never have her because of the vast differences between social classes. Janie, on the other hand, spends her journey searching for a sense of self and someone who treats her as an equal. Despite their relatively humble beginnings, they both reach an appearance of wealth and fortune, but neither have earned their riches, thus they do not have the refinement that a person of true wealth has. The money they have adds nothing to their character. For Gatsby, his character is only a delusion created through the rumors spread from the lavish parties help at his mansion. Gatsby's wealth is only a façade because he was given the house, wealth and luxuries through the illegal dealings of Meyer Wolfsheim. Janie's character changes throughout the story in search of herself in the different challenges she has to overcome. Janie inherited her money from the death of her second husband. This is not a problem for Janie because she does not want the money anyways. In the muck, Janie does not need the money because she has Tea Cakes who is able to provide for the both of them through gambling. He is so good that he doesn't even need to take a job unless he wants to. In Gatsby's case, he wishes to gap the distance between his façade and the sophistication of true wealth. Each face challenges on their search for their American Dream.
Gatsby's dream was to attain Daisy as things were before he left for the war. The great distance that separated Gatsby from the green light symbolized the division between old and new money, and the enchanted object that diminished by one was Gatsby's realization that the significance of the green light was gone forever. Gatsby will never be able to bridge the social gap between old money and new money. The nouveau riche are wealthy people who live on West Egg and have recently come to their wealth. They have neither social connections nor the refinement to mingle with the conservative, egocentric people of East Egg. Nick portrays the old rich as aristocratic, self centered people who feel no personal ramifications to their actions and aren't concerned about their consequences for others. "I couldn't forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. 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."(Chapter 9, end, find quote later). Nick Carraway's opinion of the very rich begins to change for the worse as he spends more time with the people from East Egg. It is as though they were children, careless and naive. When Daisy crashed Gatsby's car into Myrtle and killed her, she drove away and felt no consequences to what she had done. The old rich have had their money and social class to separate themselves from the nouveau rich. Not only does Gatsby not have the class to be with Daisy, but he does not even have the money. Gatsby's wealthy appearance only came from Meyer Wolfsheim. Gatsby will never be able to raise himself to the standards that he needs, to be with Daisy. When Gatsby and Daisy were standing on the dock, and Gatsby pointed out that they would be able to see the green light on the end of her dock if there was not any fog, he realized that the significance of the green light was lost forever. He would never be able to attain Daisy and his ambition begins to fade.
Janie's dream is to find a sense of self and a love that will treat her as an equal and allow her to voice her opinion. Janie's strength and search for her voice lead her to become manlier through the different relationships she endures. All her life, she was told how to act and behave so that she could have a good husband who could provide for her. Women were seen as inferior in southern culture during the 1930s and were supposed to serve their husbands in return for support and protection. Janie's grandmother planned her life out for her. She told her that she must get married right away. "Yeah, Janie, youse got yo' womanhood on yuh. So Ah mout ez well tell yuh whut Ah been savin' up for uh spell. Ah wants to see you married right away"(12). Janie's grandmother did want what was best for Janie, but she basically told her what to do instead of letting her know what she wanted for her. Janie's Grandmother chooses Logan Killicks over Johnny Taylor, even though Janie wants to explore her woman hood with Johnny, because Logan can provide protection. But after they were married, Janie realized that she would never love Logan and sought for someone else. Joe Starks stole Janie away from Logan. He saved her from the boringness of their dull marriage. He enchanted her with his words of kindness and promises of happiness. When Joe became the Mayor of Eatonville, Janie was in charge of many things. She was the leading lady. Although this was different than how her life was before, she didn't like having to take care of most everything. In the beginning, it felt important, but towards the end, she felt unappreciated for the things she had done. Over time, Janie realized that the life she had now was not what she wanted either. But through these hardships, she gains the qualities that make her appear more masculine. By the time she meets Tea Cakes, he sees her as an equal through those qualities and power as head of the house. This was Janie's dream, to find a person who respected her as an equal.
Gatsby's only goal is to attain Daisy. His belief is that Daisy will come to him if he appears to be rich and famous. But Gatsby's character isn't true to the wealth it is only a façade because the money isn't real. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the rumors surrounding Gatsby, to develop his character. Jay Gatsby, also known as James Gatz, was poor as a child, but became incredibly wealthy after dropping out of college and created a new life for himself through the organized crime of Meyer Wolfsheim. Using the help of Wolfsheim, he appears to be almost a godly figure. This character that Gatsby created is too much to believe, and, like Nick, we're skeptical of him at first. His entire background is skeptical to the people that attend his lavish parties. Many of these parties consisted of people who were unaware of who Gatsby was. Because of his private nature many of his guests began to make assumptions about his past. The rumors created established an outlandish character of Gatsby. Each rumor accumulated and grew like a snow ball. These rumors created an exciting, yet still mysterious character. "Some believe him to have been a double spy during the war, others that he once killed a man, while some see him as a criminal lord of the underworld, dealing bootleg liquor, among other things" (640, Pearson) Through these rumors, they create an image of Gatsby that allow him to be the center of attention without being present for the conversations. A few of his guest become suspicious of his extravagant but ambiguous style. Describing how odd Gatsby's kindness was for replacing a gown that a woman had ripped at one of these parties. "There is something funny about a fellow that'll do something like that. He doesn't want any trouble with anybody"(48). Though it was not Gatsby who had ripped the dress, he felt responsible for replacing it. Gatsby might not know all this guests, but he is committed to insuring they have a good time. This strange benevolence that Gatsby expresses makes his party goers suspicious. This mysterious attribute of Gatsby and lack of character make these rumors spread like wild fire. There are so many gaps in his background and history that people put these rumors in place of the gaps to create a character that they want to see. However, this guise of Gatsby was created through rumors and gossip but not without the aid of the character Gatsby portrayed for himself.
Janie builds her character through the different marriages she endures. At the pear tree in the beginning, Janie found her sexuality and realized that her American dream was to find true love and happiness where she would be free to do as she pleased. "Throughout her life Janie's mission is to realize her adolescent fantasy of the pear tree"(Melus, 51). Janie wanted to explore her ambitions and her limits, but her emotions were suppressed as she endured her first and second marriage because they forced her to remain silent and emotionless. Janie wanted to know what living on her own expense was like. As she told Pheoby, "you got tuh go there tuh know there" (192) Janie wanted to know the unknown that her grandmother couldn't tell her about, but she couldn't. She was meant only to serve as a good wife. Logan wanted her for cleaning and cooking in return for protection and financial security. Further into the marriage, Logan told Janie that she was spoiled and that she should work with him doing the field work and chopping wood. She realized that she could no longer stay with Logan because she would never fall in love with him. Janie was lured away from Logan by Jode Stark with his dreams of wealth and power and ran away with him to Eatonville, believing that that was the path to her love and happiness. At first is seemed as though everything was perfect. She was now the wife to the mayor of the town, but when she was asked to read a speech, Jode said that she was in no position to read a speech because she was a woman. He only wanted her to be a trophy wife. Janie realized that she was, yet again, stuck in a marriage and caged like a bird. The people of Eatonville were very judgmental of everyones actions in the town. After Jode's death, Janie was now free from the marriage and was now head of the house. Yet, even though she is free, when Janie falls in lust with Tea Cakes, she cannot pursue him in public because of the people in the town judging her. Her dream to find love and happiness leads her to leave the town with Tea Cakes in hopes to start a new life where she can explore herself freely and find what is unknown to her.
Janie reaches her dream to find her strength but lost her dream of love when she lost Tea Cakes. Gatsby is never able to attain his dream of Daisy. She became such an idol to Gatsby that he convinced himself of wanting nothing more that to be reunited. The green light at the end of Daisy's dock symbolizes Gatsby's aspiration to win Daisy's love. The green light literally guides ships into port, but symbolically, Daisy guides Gatsby's actions. Gatsby owns a large home and has many lavish parties with hundreds of people that he does not know personally. All of this is an attempt to gain Daisy's attention. Even with his luxurious surroundings and interesting people around him, Gatsby still longs to be reunited with Daisy. Nick, Daisy's cousin, advises Gatsby not to be greedy with Daisy's feelings, but Gatsby feels he can rekindle the past. He wants to have their relationship to be exactly the way it was before he left for the war and believes that he cannot fail. Gatsby's dreams to be with Daisy, "must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp them" (189). The green light gives Gatsby hope , blurring the reality that he had already lost. Because the light is just in the distance, he believes that he can have Daisy back. Just as the Moon occasionally appears beyond human reach, so too is the green light just out of Jay Gatsby's grasp.
Janie finds her true sense of self and achieves her dreams through her marriage with Tea Cakes and the different hurdles they have to overcome. The hurricane forces Janie to resort to help from Tea Cakes because she realizes that her idea of strength is only an arrogant false sense of security. Thus, she is helpless against the storm. The hurricane crushes Janie's arrogance that she can control everything in her surroundings. The hurricane is such an unbiased crushing force, that she and the other people of the muck realize that they are not the ones in control of their environment. The storm forces Janie to go back from finding her place of equality in society and rely once again on another man's help. In Janie's first and second marriage, she is put down by her husbands, Logan and Joe, because they see her as an unequal human. Logan used her as a servant and did not respect her in anyway. She was a slave to him. Joe seemed to be the solution to her problems because she did not want to be a slave she wanted to be able to voice her opinion. But marrying Joe only exacerbated the situation. She was now only his object. She was not allowed to read a speech or talk with the other women on the porch. After Joe's death she exhibits a sense of being a strong individual as head of the house. Tea Cakes gives her something that she hasn't experienced before, respect. He treats her as he would anyone else that he felt was equal. She is able to now express herself the way she wants to and is even taken hunting and fishing. After moving to the muck to avoid the gossip of her peers, she becomes eye candy to the town. Tea Cakes loves her and is willing to go with everything she does, but because it isn't normal for a woman to be able to express herself this way, he hits her to show dominance to their neighbors and how much he loves her. But when the hurricane hits, she is forced to return to needing help from Tea Cakes because the storm has made her helpless and weak. Tea Cakes jumps in the water to protect her from the rabid dog and is bitten instead. He also leads her through the storm to safety. This intimacy that they share allows them to survive the storm. Janie reaches an epiphany through the hurricane. "The dog that mortally wounded Tea Cakes has metaphorically killed her, too."(Hattenhauer, 47) With the death of Tea Cakes, Janie realized that there was nothing worse than the loss of what she had and nothing could affect her more than that. Not only till after having to kill her only love, did she realize her true strength. The loss of Joe did not leave her with strength; it only gave her an illusion of individuality because she was head of the town. She finally gains a sense of self from her marriage to Tea Cakes and the hardships they endured. This sense of self allows her to endure the hostility of the women on the porch of Eatonville. "Ah don't mean to bother wid tellin' 'em nothin', Pheoby. 'Tain't worth de trouble."(Hurston,6) When she has returned to Eatonville, she does not even care about the opinions of the women that gossip on the porch. She is willing to let their imaginations run wild upon her return because she has found her enlightenment. The hurricane gave her the strength to maintain her inner peace. This was the character and sense of self that Janie was looking for through her journey.
Janie and Gatsby both lost their loved ones, but were affected differently. Gatsby finally realized that he would never be able to obtain Daisy and fell into a deep depression. Surrounded by failure, Wilson shoots Gatsby in his pool because he was led to believe that Gatsby was the one who killed his wife. Gatsby dies filled with regret and an unaccomplished life. Janie, on the other hand, betters herself through the loss of her love and finds her true inner strength. She feel that Tea Cakes was still with her in spirit Both characters fought to reach their goals but neither of them could maintain their goals of love, the only difference is that Gatsby's life ends with failure, while Janie's life is brought to a higher power.