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F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby and The Roaring Twenties. 1920-1929: Changing Times. The 1920’s were a time of unprecedented social and technological change in so many areas:. An economy stimulated by WW1 fueled a massive economic boom. . General Business Conditions. Stable prices

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F scott fitzgerald the great gatsby and the roaring twenties

F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsbyand The Roaring Twenties

1920 1929 changing times
1920-1929: Changing Times

The 1920’s were a time of unprecedented

social and technological change in so many areas:

An economy stimulated by WW1 fueled a massive economic boom.

General business conditions
General Business Conditions

  • Stable prices

  • High employment

  • Number of firms increased annually until 1929

  • Steady failure rate

  • Prime interest rate averaged less than 5%

  • Stock yield higher than bond yields

Income distribution
Income Distribution

  • Equalizing effect of income tax during the war but

  • 1922: Top 1% held 32% of nation’s wealth

  • 1929: Top 1% held 38% of nation’s wealth

  • “The rich get rich and the poor get… children”

The Roaring Twenties

The decade of the twenties is often referred to as the

“ Jazz Age’. However, the term has much as much to

do with the jazzy atmosphere of the time as with the


Jazzy sounds
Jazzy Sounds

  • Prohibition brought many jazz musicians north from New Orleans to Chicago and New York

  • Joe “King” Oliver” was one of the best

  • Jazz became the soundtrack of rebellion for a younger generation

Jazzy duds
Jazzy Duds

  • Flappers were typical young girls of the twenties, usually with bobbed hair, short skirts, rolled stockings, and powdered knees!

  • They danced the night away doing the Charleston and the Black Bottom.

Jazzy talk twenties slang

All Wet - wrong

Bee’s Knees - a superb person

Big Cheese -an important person

Bump Off - to murder

Dumb Dora - a stupid girl

Flat Tire - a dull, boring person

Gam - a girls leg

Hooch - bootleg liquor

Hoofer - chorus girl

Torpedo - a hired gunman

Jazzy Talk -Twenties Slang

Gee I wish a torpedo would bump off this flat tire




  • Prohibition was a period of nearly fourteen years of U.S. history in which the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor was made illegal. It led to the first and only time an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was repealed.

  • The Volstead Act allowed alcohol consumption if it was prescribed by a doctor. Needless to say, large numbers of new prescriptions were written for alcohol.

  • For people who didn't buy cases of alcohol in advance or know a "good" doctor, there were illegal ways to drink during Prohibition. A new breed of gangster arose during this period.

  • Al Capone in Chicago is one of the most famous gangsters of this time period.

F scott fitzgerald
F Scott Fitzgerald

  • Descendent from “prominent” American stock

  • Attended Princeton but left without graduating

  • Missed WWI (just)

  • Met Zelda but couldn’t afford to marry her

  • Published This Side of Paradise in 1920 at the age of 24: instant stardom

  • Married Zelda, his “golden girl”

  • Wrote “money-making” popular fiction for most of his life, mainly for the New York Post: $4000 a story (which equates to about $50,000 today)

  • He and Zelda were associated with high living of the Jazz Age

Fitzgerald continued
Fitzgerald Continued

  • A daughter, Scotty

  • Wrote what is considered his masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, in Europe in 1924-25

  • Zelda has an affair and Gatsby poorly received

  • Attempts to earn a clean literary reputation were disrupted by his reputation as a drunk

  • Zelda becomes mentally unstable

  • Moved to Hollywood as a screen writer

  • Dies almost forgotten aged 45

  • Zelda perished in a mental hospital fire in 1948

  • Only became a “literary great” in the 1960’s

Literature of the 1920s
Literature of the 1920s

  • Authors wrote about their personal lives as something “knowable”.

  • Gatsby contains a great deal of autobiographical material and references to the 1920’s.

The modernist era
The Modernist Era

  • Rejection of Romanticism and the advent of moral uncertainty

    • World War I is over

  • Embracing the new i.e. mechanization and industrialization

    • Cars

    • New (replaceable) fashions

    • Mass entertainment

  • Using new means of Representation

    • Development of cinema

    • Mass media and advertising

The great gatsby characters
The Great Gatsby Characters

Nick Caraway – Narrator

Jay Gatsby- mysterious man, protagonist

Daisy Buchanan – Nick’s cousin

Tom Buchanan – Daisy’s wealthy husband

Jordan Baker – Daisy’s friend

Myrtle Wilson – Tom’s lover

George Wilson – Myrtle’s husband


  • Money

  • Honesty

  • Decline of “The American Dream”

  • Gender

  • Class