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Jay Gatsby Looking For A Dream English Literature Essay

On one hand, The Great Gatsby is a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it is a fictional story and it talks about a millionaire dreamer that had as a unique purpose in life recovering the love that he had lost. On the other hand, we have "The motorcycle diaries" which is a "diary", is also a type of novel and it tells us the adventures of Ernesto Guevara's travel around South America.

It is important to notice that this essay tries to demostrate the differences and similarities between two fictional literary characters; Jay Gatsby and Ernesto Guevara, focusing especifically on their lifes, their ideals, their desires, and how they changed through their own stories according to the books. Both Gatsby and Ernesto wanted to break the rules stablished, the status quo imposed by society, they wanted to follow their own desires in order to get their personal aims.

First of all, we have to describe the two main characteres in both books in order to have a general view of both of them. Ernesto Guevara was a young man, he was studing medicine in Buenos Aires, but he was not the common example of a student of medicine because he wanted more than a simple life. Ernesto wanted to live different experiences while he was a young man. He was fed up with the status quo imposed by society because he had the spirit of a dreamer. Ernesto had a good friend named Alberto, he was older than Ernesto, but he shared the same adventurous spirit. Ernesto and Alberto decided to make a journey around South America moved just for their brave hearts and their young adeventurous souls.

Jay Gatsby was a handsome middle age man, he had just one purpose in life, recovering his unique love; Daisy. Daisy was a young high social class woman, she met Gatsby when they both were young, she loved Gatsby, but she knew she could not stay with him because of his low social condition. Gatsby after a hard work got make a fortune motivated just for Daisy's love. He passed of being a poor young man to become a rich, popular and well known gentleman. In other words he performed what we know as "the American dream". Each change involves a period of time, and during that time everything changes, while Gatsby was working hard to create his fortune, Daisy met another man and got married. Once that gatsby had earned enough money he started to follow her discreetly. He moved next to her and wait for her despite time is passing by.

According to the books, both characters had important social differences and for that reason their aims were obviously different. Meanwhile Ernesto was concern of social issues; Gatsby was worried about their own issues. When Ernesto travelled through the north of Chile he could see the precarious conditions in which mining workers used to live. He was shaken by that harsh reality that made him think of the necessities of poor people. Ernesto reflected about the government's politics and his ideals started to be formed.

"...the lives of the poor, unsung heroes of this battle, who die miserably in one of the thousand traps set by nature to defend its treasures, when all they want is to earn their daily bread." (Ernesto Che Guevara, The motorcycle diaries, 80)

On the contrary, Gatsby was always trying to make his dream come true and it made him quite selfish, he could not see anything more than Daisy. He was so obsessed with her that he became a strange and misterious person. According to the novel many people speculated different theories about Gatsby's life. Furthermore, Gatsby thought he could recover and live again all the time gone. He claimed he could turn back time.

"Can´t repeat the past? he cried incredulously. Why of course you can! ...I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before." (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby:118)

We could see what happen with Ernesto as a kind of "altruism" because he was worried about social issues, leaving apart his personal interests. Jay Gatsby was a little bit more selfish about it, he did not care about society, and he did not care about what people do, say or think. Gatsby even denied social institutions as marriage, children, and family just to getting his aim. He did not care about Daisy's husband or Daisy's daughter. He just could see Daisy and he together.

Jay Gatsby was not the typical millionaire he did not enjoy his life although he had a lot of money and Ernesto felt something missing, probably his own identity, although he had a good social situation, a good family and a good career. The value of money played a main role within of Gatsby life, he worked hard during his whole life to become rich, and he kept every dollar until he saw his desire come true. But when he earned a huge amount of money he did not care of it. Gatsby became a disinterested person about money because deep in his heart he knew he could not buy Daisy's love. He wasted thousands of dollars giving parties for everybody, waiting that some day Daisy could appear and fall in love with him again.

As Gatsby, Ernesto was not the typical college student. He left all his possetions to go to find his dream. The money was not important for him, in relation with Gatsby. Ernesto was moved by his desire of freedom and search of his place in the world. Both Guevara and Gatsby were in a steady search. Jay was looking for his true love and Enersto was looking for his own identity.

Identity is real important in order to know who you really are, and Ernesto knew this clearly unlike Jay. Gatsby knew more about Daisy than about him, and pherhaps that is the reason why he became almost crazy by the end of the story. He could not talk about himself without hesitations and contradictions that just comfirmed that he had serius psychological problems.

" I thought you inherited your money.

I did, old sport, he said automatically, but I lost most of it in th ebig panic-the panic of the war.

I think he hardly knew what he was saying, for when I asked him what business he was in he answered "That's my affair", before he realized that it wasn't the appropriate reply." (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby:96)

Another common point that we have to point out is that both Gatsby and Ernesto share a continued effort and determination to reach his aims. If we based on the story of "The motorcycle diaries" there was a moment during the journey in which Alberto gave up and decided return to Argentina, he was devastated because it was a really hard trip, they did not have money, and they did not have anything to eat nor drink. Alberto lost the faith in getting his aim but Ernesto was there to encourage him to go on with the journey until reach their goal. Ernesto's perseverance was bigger than all the difficulties or unlucky situations they had during their journey. Gatsby continued struggling for Daisy's love. Altough he was in a war, he never lost the hope of seeing Daisy again.

A journey in literature always is relationed with a change, an evolution, and meaninful learning. Within the two stories there is a type of "evolution", one is idealistic and the other is psychological. In realtion of "The motorcycle diaries" Ernesto and Alberto lived a real amazing journey started in Argentina and finished in Venezuela. Along the journey they travelled from one place to another, meeting different people, custums, realities and situations. All of them gave them a variety of learnings and made them wise. When they finished their extensive journey they had a different vision of world, of their own lives, of everything. A new reality was opened in front of their eyes. Due to this journey Ernesto Guevara found his own identity, a new way of thinking that probably he never had found without doing that journey. In another way, we could see "The Great Gatsby" a "psychological change" suffered by Jay Gatsby. Although Jay had moved from his native place to New York, it did not imply a change for the character. The change was provided provocated by an evolution of the character through the whole story in contrast to Ernesto. Gatsby was losing the reason while he turns older. His mind was changing, his love for daisy was increasing but his sanity was becoming less day by day.

It is important to point out the constant support that Ernesto receive from Alberto in contrast of Gatsby who did not have anybody with him. May be was Alberto the person who helped Ernesto to keep his sanity during his journey, Alberto representated the connection between Ernesto's ideals and the reality. According to Fitzgerald, Gatsby was completely alone, he did not have any true friend in order to help them and show them the reality. Althogh Nick (the closest person to Gatsby according to the book) seemed to be a Gatsby's friend he could never know him at all. Gatsby made his "psychological journey" alone, living in a fantasy world all story long.

Finally, as we could see Jay Gatsby and Ernesto Guevara shared more things than we used to think. Not only their lives were similar in some aspects but also the way that they struggled in order to reach their own aims despite having difficulties, troubles and falls. While one of them struggled for social issues, the other did it for personal desires. We coul not make judgments about what the writers intend to say when they decided to write their books, but we can based on the facts that appeard clearly expressed in the novel and have our own conclusions. On one hand there is a book that shows an obsessed millionaire that suffers because of he wastes his whole life to get an aim and he culd not reach it despite all the money he has. On the other hand, we have a young idealistic student that leaves all his possetions to find his own identity and what is his place in the world.

The books share differences and similarities, but they have one unique purpose, it is tells us about the perseverance that human beings have to get their aims in order to feel complete as a person. Both Ernesto and Gatsby could be reflected in many boys and girls today. Those who want to become an artist, a singer, a famous person, or a professional. Whatever it was their purpose it has a value, a true value because they struggle to see it come true as Ernesto and Gatsby did it.


Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación

Escuela de Pedagogía en Inglés

Ernesto Guevara and Jay Gatsby; looking for a "Dream"

Assignment submitted as part of the requirements for

Communicative Competences Course.

Camilo Quezada Barros

July 2010

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