The theme of an “in-group” in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald reminded me of a discussion we had in one of my other classes in which we talked about borders and how they produce certain identities. Borders surrounding countries subdivide the planet and create a distinction between those who are “in” versus those outside. A border symbolically creates inclusion through exclusion of people who are deemed “other”. Divisions between racial groups in particular derive from the fact that racism has played such a major role in history and we are clearly still struggling with equality for all groups of people. Physical borders in countries prevent the mixing of people, and therefore of culture and knowledge. In the novel, Fitzgerald makes it clear that the upper class of society consisted of all whites who had the right connections and enormous amounts of wealth. I think it is interesting how not one of the main characters was a person of color, though I realize that this is because of the historical time frame in which the story takes place.
Gatsby’s lavish parties filled with rich people who seem to lead only shallow lives reminded me of the idea of borders. The scene we watched in class in which Nick was looking out onto the street at how the African American people were spending their night was making a clear distinction between the various classes or racial groups in society. Nick and his group were enjoying life while the girl across the street was looking dreamily out of the window. This scene implied that money and status in society dictate “in” and “out” groups. Wealth and the color of the characters’ skin created a border that meant exclusion for the people of color. Even in today’ society we see clear divisions between racial groups, whether in terms of simply wealth or the meaning of “white privilege” as we discussed earlier. Imaginary borders between groups of people are the result of a long history of discrimination and hatred, however I like to think that coming generations are helping to dissolve these divisions.