The 1920’s was an age of extravagancy. The automobile brought great things for the wealthy. They would ornate their cars with gold plated mirrors and expensive furs for the women to place on their laps while they rode. While there was no drivers test anyone who could afford an automobile could drive one. In The Great Gatsby, a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the automobile, a symbol of wealth, serves as an instrument of death and destruction. Many of the characters in The Great Gatsby are horrible drivers literally and figuratively. Jordan Baker decides being a careless driver is necessary as long as the other drivers are cautious. Tom and Daisy Buchanan where described as being careless people, “…the smashed up things and creatures and then they retreated back to 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…” This was an accurate description of the way most wealthy acted in the 1920’s as well as most characters in the novel. Jordan Baker, Nick Carraway, and Jay Gatsby were primary examples of the carelessness literally and metaphorically speaking in the novel. Jordan shows the carelessness of the wealthy in the 1920’s through her careless actions, Nick shows the theme of bad drivers in the novel through his inability to hinder, and Gatsby shows the theme of bad drivers in the novel through his impossible dream.
The wealthy in the 1920’s were constantly neglectful of the way they behaved and when they realized they realized they were wrong they would retreat back to their money. They believed that what they did could never be wrong. They thought of themselves to be superior. Gatsby perceived Jordan to be an honest person but Nick notices she cheats and lies to make things better for herself. He reads in a newspaper article that she had moved her ball from a bad lie in the semifinal round of a golf tournament. He describes her as “… incurably dishonest. She wasn’t able to endure being at a disadvantage…” Jordan has a discussion with Nick on the topic of bad drivers and it is then she tells him her thoughts on her actions. She says she can be careless and worry free as long as everyone else will be there to clean up after her.
Nick Carraway is not the best driver, figuratively speaking, himself. Nick is an example who makes bad choices in life. Nick witnesses first hand the affair between Tom and Myrtle. He first knows when he visits Tom and Daisy’s home and meets Jordan. Jordan is who tells him that Tom is on the phone with his mistress, Myrtle, when he leaves the room to take a call. He rides along with Tom into downtown New York and meets Wilson, Myrtle’s husband. He’s present at the hotel where Tom takes Myrtle and meets Catherine, Myrtle’s sister and Mr. McKee. He knows that Tom takes Myrtle here often and they lie to their spouses of their destination. Nick does not inform Daisy or Wilson of this affair or correct Tom when he speaks of morals and honesty in family. Nick also acts as a link between the affair of Daisy and Gatsby. When Jordan tells him Gatsby wishes him to ask Daisy for tea at his house so they may see each other again he invites them both over knowing Gatsby is infatuated with Daisy and Daisy is not happy with her marriage with Tom. Nick is present at the argument at the Plaza Hotel in New York when Daisy and Gatsby tell Nick that they too are having an affair. He does not speak up when Tom and Daisy argue over morals, when he knows Tom is in an affair. Nick makes choices in this novel that could have prevented the death of Myrtle and Gatsby.
Gatsby is also another example of a life driver who makes bad choices. Gatsby’s life long dream is to acquire wealth and power in order to acquire happiness. He devotes most of his life trying to recapture the past and dies in its pursuit. His tragic flaw is inability to read people. He assumes that Jordan is an honest person and believes Daisy is still in love with him. At the Plaza Hotel Gatsby still believes that Daisy loves him. He is convinced of this as is shown when he takes the blame for Myrtle’s death. “Was Daisy driving?” “Yes…but of course I’ll say I was.” He also watches and protects Daisy as she returns home. Gatsby cannot accept that the past is gone and done with. For Gatsby, his American Dream is not material possessions, although it may seem that way. He only comes into riches so that he can fulfill his true American Dream, Daisy. However, he never gets to fully fulfill his dream and ends up paying the ultimate price for it.
As the 1920’s was full of flamboyancy The Great Gatsby was full of bad drivers. The wealthy were the most careless and in The Great Gatsby the wealthy were so careless people died. Jordan Baker believed she could do whatever she wanted, cheat or lie, as long as someone else was there to clean up after her mess. Nick Carraway stood by and watched the corruption in his group of acquaintances. Gatsby spent his whole life trying to reach an unattainable dream. All 3 characters can be described as bad drivers who lead to the tragic end of this novel.