The Great Gatsby, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Grapes of Wrath | FreebookSummary (2023)

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Society expects people to fall in love. That is, society expects people to find a life partner, get married, and have children. Those who do not follow the pattern are generally seen as hermits who sit in their houses with multiple forms of pets to keep them company. This burden life throws at human beings growing up, turns into a moral value. People want to find someone that makes them so happy that their heart hurts when they’re not with them. This would be the case if one does actually fall in love. Love can be a wonderful thing. However, sometimes it can be a devastatingly evil form of torture.

Even though it is expected to make one feel content and comforted, love can make anyone feel more alone than ever before. Love is presumed to be a step in life. The expectation society applies to it leads to alienation of characters in the summer reading of The Great Gatsby, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and The Grapes of Wrath. For some characters, love is a moral value right from the start. Zora Neale Hurston introduces us to Janie in her book, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Janie is a young, vibrant African American living with her grandmother.

She marks the beginning of her need to feel loved and wanted early on in chapter 2 as she gazes upon a pear tree. “She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight.

So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid. ” (Hurston 11). Janie wants to feel the way the bee does when pollinating the flowers on the pear tree. The alienation process begins here. Her grandmother sees her frolicking with the thought of love in tow and decides that she needs to be married at once. Janie, a young girl, is over ruled by society and forces her into a marriage with Logan Killicks. Logan does not treat her the way she wants to be treated.

Janie is put to work as a house wife and nothing more. She still longs to be loved the right way. Feeling sad and lonely, she jumps on the opportunity to leave with a new man who convinces her he will love her the right way. Jody Starks, a power hungry man, takes Janie away with him as his bride to Eatonville, where he becomes the mayor. Unfortunately for Janie, her thirst for comfort is not satisfied with Jody. Jody alienates her and controls her even though she is the mayor’s wife and seen by the public eye every day. Jody makes her work in

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the store that he owns.

She is forced to be polite and quiet as to make for a proper wife. He also makes her hide her hair. His over protective tendencies lead Janie into an even more isolated life. When Jody dies, liberation from the harsh, concealed life with her second husband is put to rest. Janie eases into her independence feeling less lonely even with her husband gone. Then Tea Cake arrives in the store one day. He ends up being Janie’s third husband. Finally, Janie’s thirst for love is quenched. Tea Cake treats her the way that she knew she should be treated. The hurricane takes him away though.

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The hurricane alienates Janie more than any character in the novel ever does. It represents the destructive furry of nature which counteracts the pear tree’s demonstration of the beauty and pleasure in love, the imagery that first spoke to Janie and convinced her that romance was the key to happiness when in reality only led to her isolation. The force of pure destruction makes Janie wonder what kind of world she lives in and whether or not God cares about anyone at all. The aftermath left Janie questioning how she can live in a world filled with such chaos and pain.

With Tea Cake gone, Jody dead, and Logan left behind, the hurricane leaves Janie alienated on Earth with her past loves forever lost. Steinbeck also touches base on how gender affects love and moral values through Rose of Sharon in The Grapes of Wrath. Rose of Sharon is Tom’s younger sister. She is married to Connie Rivers, and has been staying with his family. She is pregnant with their first child, and “she [is] all secrets now she [is] pregnant, secrets and little silences that seemed to have meanings. She [is] pleased with herself, and she complain[s] about things that [don’t] really matter” (Steinbeck 13. 2). She dreams of living comfortably in California with her husband, going to see movies on the weekends, and buying pretty clothes for her baby. She worries constantly about her baby’s health, and relies on her mother for information. While the family encounters obstacle after obstacle, Rose of Sharon can’t seem to shake her self-centered perspective of the world. As their journey progresses, Rose seems to be willing to help more often than not. It is almost as if she has accepted her womanly duties and hopes that in return she will be loved and cared for by Connie. Her plan does not fold out.

As the family gets settled into their first camp site, Connie disappears. Rose’s husband leaves her, while she is pregnant, on a massive trip to California, where she had hoped to start a better life with him and the baby. Love is torturing her. Now that she’s alone, she knows she has to take full responsibility for the life she is carrying. She works herself to help provide for the family as a whole and not herself. Even though she is feeling lost and alone without her husband, and she doesn’t know

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what is going to happen, she fights through her alienation. All of her hard work though is put to shame.

She becomes ill and goes into early labor. The child is born still. Rose’s world collapses around her. First her husband, now her child, have both been taken away from her. Alienated to the point of no return, Rose of Sharon doesn’t express much emotion and carries on with her womanly duties with her family. Gatsby is not a typical guy. Fitzgerald characterizes Gatsby as being the greatest man to have ever walked the earth. Instead though, it can be argued that he is the most alienated out of all the characters in the summer reading. The Great Gatsby tells the tale of a man who has the world on a string.

Nick Carraway moves into West Egg. His new neighbor is Jay Gatz. Gatsby is a fabulously wealthy young man. Everyone loves him and he has,”… one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced, or seemed to face, the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself. ” (Fitzgerald 36). His house is a gothic mansion with a pool and a view of the waters edge.

He is famous for the extravagant parties he throws every Saturday night. The people who attend these parties don’t really know who he is, what he does, or how he can afford to have parties like that every single week. Nick learns that Gatsby was born James Gatz on a farm in North Dakota; working for a millionaire made him dedicate his life to the achievement of wealth. Class and wealth can alter egos to the point where the thrill of money isolates people and ruins their social well-being and chance to find love. Nick has a relative living in East Egg. Her name is Daisy.

Her husband Tom is a rugby player and they make lavish amounts of money too. Tom has a mistress that lives closer to the city and coincidently is in love with her rather than with Daisy. No one is aware of the fact that Daisy and Gatsby have a history together. Gatsby met Daisy while training to be an officer in Louisville. He fell in love with her. But when Gatsby went away to war, Daisy didn’t wait for him like she said she would. She marries Tom instead. When Nick finds out about Daisy and Gatsby, he helps Jay figure out a way to reunite with her again. An afternoon tea is planned.

The instant connection between the two previous lovers is undeniable. They continue their affair throughout the novel, even in front of Daisy’s husband Tom. Nick also learns that Gatsby made his fortune through criminal activity, as he was willing to do anything to gain the social position he thought necessary

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to win Daisy. Nick views Gatsby as a deeply flawed man, dishonest and vulgar, whose extraordinary optimism and power to transform his dreams into reality make him “great” nonetheless. His greed consumes his life until meeting Daisy. Their romance is short lived however.

On a trip back from the big city, Daisy and Gatsby are driving together when Tom’s mistress notices his car coming down the road. She is unaware that it wasn’t Tom and runs out to greet it. Daisy, not paying attention, accidently runs over the mistress and does not stop. The death of Tom’s lover angers him to a murderous rage. He blames Gatsby for Mrtyle’s death and makes sure that Mrtyle’s husband kills Gatsby the next day so his hands were not dirtied in the process of getting rid of the problem. Gatsby’s funeral is a small affair, compared to the parties he held.

This is because no one loved him. His money, his class, his previous criminal expenditures, alienated him from the loving that he needed. With a disappointed father, Nick, and a small handful of other individuals, the life of Jay Gatz is sent away without much emotion. Gatsby will forever be isolated and without love. “All you need is love to be happy” is an incorrect statement. All you need is love to make one feel alienated can be proven true. For the characters in the summer reading, love is hard to come by without being crushed by society’s expectations in the end.

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How does Their Eyes Were Watching God relate to The Great Gatsby? ›

In The Great Gatsby and Their Eyes Were Watching God the main characters both have a dream that are essential to them. Each wishes to live their dream, but runs into conflict preventing them from fulfilling that ambition. Dreams can transfer the character of a person, or simply change itself.

How does Gatsby compare to Grapes of Wrath? ›

Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby vividly portrays the pursuit of pleasure that was so common in the 1920s, while John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath shows us the suffering and hardships common to many Americans in the 1930s. These works of literature powerfully reflect the ''spirit'' of their time.

What is the theme of Their Eyes Were Watching God? ›

Their Eyes Were Watching God illustrates how no human pursuits—for love, money, or self-worth—can stand against God or the forces of nature.

Where does Their Eyes Were Watching God take place? ›

The Sundial Book Club is reading Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God" this March. The book, which is a favorite for high school students across the country, takes place in the real Central Florida town of Eatonville and follows a middle-aged black woman named Janie Crawford.


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