Societies Surrounded By Wealth And Poverty English Literature Essay

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The books 'The Great Gatsby' written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and 'The Motorcycle diaries' written by Ernesto Guevara de la Sierra set in opposite contexts and decades show clearly through their narrators, Nick Carraway and Ernesto Guevara, noticeable features of the reality of America in the 1920s and Latin America in the 1950s. Each narrator communicates the readers from their own experience about the realities that marked the footsteps and destiny of those who were 'unknown' figures in the history of those societies, and also the viewpoint of the world and fate of these two characters; in America, the decadency of moral consciousness and a growing economy, and in Latin America, poverty and inequality. Through the lines of these stories is able to capture the soul of two societies showing us the worst and miserable side of them; stories that show the human needs in two different aspects. The spiritual need experienced by Americans, and social need experienced by Latin Americans. On one hand, the book 'The Great Gatsby' sets in the 'Jazz Age' or the 'Roaring 20s' reflects the obsession of people to fun and waste the time, reach their personal goals, get wealth and power by whatever mean, etc.; these aspects were a result of the capitalist system that represented an influence on the way of their lives. On the other hand, the book 'The motorcycle diaries', shows the crude reality of working class and indigenous people whose reality was surrounded by poverty and social injustice performing hard works, earning poor salaries, living in miserable conditions, in unhealthy settings, and possessing a lower level of education.

According to the first novel, the narrator Nick Carraway shows throughout the characters the style of life in the 1920s well known as 'American way of life'; the decadency of moral, values and respect, greed, the lack of honesty and scruple, and an urban and crazy life in a series of events and characteristics that represented the core of that society. For example: many of the characters of the novel presented a self-centred attitude, eccentricity and luxury, long for belonging to a well-off life, and an uncontrolled wish to enjoy themselves without limits attempting to look for happiness and freedom. As a result, they demonstrated to possess a spiritual misery due to the fact that the means used to reach the objectives involved frivolous and calculating attitudes, the loss of moral dignity, hypocrisy, arrogance and falseness; with the influence of the dress her personality had also undergone a change. The intensive vitality that had been so remarkable in the garage was converted into impressive hauteur (Fitzgerald 1925; 30). Changing drastically her gestures, tone of voice, glance, the way of dress, and so on, Mrs Myrtle tried to impress and feign an unreal stratum in front of rich people. So, all the acts and ways done by them were valid in order to look for happiness and a way out for their undesired reality that allowed them forget the poor setting they lived and be accepted by important and wealthy people. Another feature of this society was that feelings and sentiments were put in a second place; real love seemed to be forbidden as a sin and money always talked. As a result; weddings and relationships were arranged by convenience; she only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me (Fitzgerald 1925; 130). This fact means not only the importance of the economic situation to carry out social contracts but also how people were greedy and corrupt in order to attempt to access to a better life with luxury and eccentricity. Besides, it is also inferred that the attitude of those people is a reflex of egocentricity; who were concentrated on themselves to get their personal goals without concerning if they were or not damaging the people who were around them; He had discovered that Myrtle had some sort of life apart from him in another world, and the shock had made him physically sick (Fitzgerald 1925; 124). So, that attitude hurt him deeply turning his life in a complete disaster. In terms of social relationships, Nick Carraway also transmits the lack of scruple, sensibility, care and respect at the moment to treat with personal matters; The funeral is tomorrow ...How about saying you'll come?… what I called up about was a pair of shoes I left there. I wonder if it'd be too much trouble to have the butler send them on (Fitzgerald 1925; 169). This event left in evidence that the social relationships and friendship were just a matter of superficial treatment and economic interest. People from 20s were almost never concerned about the life and problems of the rest without involving deeply in their lives; they just looked for fun and have a nice time in whatever place with whoever in order to forget a sad event as the World War I, use their time in something, and attempt their life have a sense. So, the lack of awareness, loyalty, love, and others values reflex the real necessity of people from the 20s in heading its paths and life to find happiness in a society that turned around money.

However, in the second story, told from the own experience of the author, is feasible to see an opposite reality lived in the 50s by Latin Americans; Indians, lepers, and working class people, etc. The lack of money, health, and social justice demonstrated the miserable living conditions of those who just asked for a world fairer and more human. In the misery, these characters fought for looking for the way to survive instead of living, an inhuman condition that grew as a parasite which nobody who had the faculty and power stopped. This wretched reality that possessed a set of a great amount of things such as sacrifice, sadness, illness, hard work, endeavour, and so on, which were part of hundreds who were not protected and trampled on; It´s time that those who govern spent less time publicizing their own virtues and more money, much more money, funding socially useful works (Guevara 2003; 70). Besides, many of these social factors show a harsh reality which did not enable them to live with dignity or hope and leaving them unprotected and alone in a hostile word. The couple, numb with cold, huddling against each other in the desert night, were a living representation of the proletariat in any part of the world. They had not one single miserable blanket to cover themselves with… (Guevara 2003; 78). These people surrounded by desolation and crudeness looked like creatures lost in time and place waiting for something that help them wake up from their deep reverie. During the 50s, the living conditions of those who every day tried to earn the familiar maintenance and the ways to subsist underwent a life with needs and sacrifice having an extremely simple and humble life without luxury and comfort; as a consequence, the cost of it was high; ruining their health, working long hours, earning lower salaries so that their life ended wrapped by loneliness and pain;

I went to see an old woman with asthma, a costumer at La Giaconda. The poor thing was in a pitiful state, breathing the acrid smell of concentrated sweat and dirty feet that filled her room, mixed with the dust from a couple of armchairs, the only luxury items in her house.(Guevara 2003; 80).

Through Ernesto Guevara's narrations is also experienced the lack of awareness and responsibility by the governments which run the countries of Latin American in order to provide good education, health and housing services and betterment working conditions of Indians and lower and middle social classes ;

Hospitals have no money and they lack medicine and adequate facilities. We have seen filthy operating rooms with pitiful lighting, and not just in small towns but even in Valparaíso. There aren´t enough surgical instruments. The bathrooms are dirty. Awareness of hygiene is poor (Guevara 2003; 87).

So, these social groups daily faced the injustices and inhuman treats that turned their lives unhappier, miserable, and gloomy which found them prevented and unable to attempt changing their harsh present and future by cause of those who had the means to change their present and give them what they deserved by the only fact of being humans.

To sum up, America and Latin America experienced a profoundly unhappiness despite each one was based on realities with opposite features. However, these realities made their protagonists live a similar destiny in different ways; a bitter and sad life. In each society people suffered, looked for hope, get better living conditions, and were victims by power, greed, and money. From my point of view, none of them were able to find a moment of real happiness. Their wretched and poor lives, in terms of moral and social dignity, were outraged by a sort of unfair luck, it means, the effects of both societies left deep scares and ravages in their lives, since they were only victims of changing and corrupt societies that gave them just different elements to live or survive. Besides, in these worlds, people not only lived in solitude but also in desperation to find a miracle that could show them happiness and a place that let them do their dreams, and also the lack of commitment and love were clear deeds in their lives making those who were around experienced a sort of sadness, anger, and injustice; I could only remember, without resentment, that Daisy hadn´t sent a message or a flower(174). This event experienced by Nick Carraway at the moment of Gatsby´s funeral showed that the real love was not present and far away from their lives, since the woman, who loved him, was not able to accompany him in his funeral in any way and that all the means used to be happy did not work. Moreover, the loss of hope lived by Latin Americans; why, when all it'll ever see is shit( Guevara 2003;125) made them live as people who looked like zombies cursing their born, and waiting for a far way future, that was hardly coming, may change their living conditions. So, these protagonists of the 20s and 50s saw passing their lives in a setting that made them feel empty and completely alone because their lives were controlled by the features of those opposite but at the same time so much similar.