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The Selfish And The Selfless In The Great Gatsby And The Grapes Of Wrath

1128 words - 5 pages

When facing a conflict, one mostly tries to find a solution that will benefit him rather than accommodate everyone. It’s much more satisfactory to have everything go one’s way than having to compromise with another. This selfish mentality is something that repeatedly takes place in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, where many characters act out of their own self-interest. However, throughout The Grapes of Wrath, written by John Steinbeck, the individuals often commit acts of true altruism. Instead of always being on the lookout for themselves, they often make sacrifices for others. The Great Gatsby’s selfish, egocentric acts contrast with the altruistic, selfless acts in The ...view middle of the document...

He knows that if he lets Tom Joad take the blame, he’ll be in even bigger trouble since he’s also violating his parole. Out of his gratefulness to the Joads for taking him in and his altruistic values, Casy sacrifices himself for Tom Joad saying, “I wanna do what’s bes’ for you folks. You took me in, carried me along. I’ll do whatever” (Steinbeck, 2006.) Clearly, Tom’s and Daisy’s selfish act of letting Gatsby take the blame highly contrast with Jim Casy’s selfless act of sacrificing himself for Tom Joad.
Greed is not always a bad thing, but when many important decisions rely on money and self-gain, it definitely is. Throughout The Great Gatsby, there is a myriad of actions and decisions that greed has a powerful sway on. One of the most prevalent ones is Daisy’s decision to marry Tom instead of Gatsby. Even though she is deeply in love with Gatsby, she marries Tom because of his stable, affluent financial background. Gatsby even announces this to Tom during a confrontation saying, “She only married you [Tom] because I was poor, and she was tired of waiting for me…in her heart she never loved anyone except me” (Fitzgerald, 2000.) Rather than following her heart and waiting for Gatsby, Daisy selfishly marries Tom just because he is wealthier. In contrast, the characters in The Grapes of Wrath are less worried about money, and more about the well being of the family and others. When Ma Joad cooks a stew, she makes sure everyone in her family gets enough, and then, rather than being greedy and keeping the leftovers, she gives the rest to a gaggle of hungry children. She also allows Jim Casy to travel with the family, and despite him being another mouth to feed and body to look after, Ma still cares for him as if he was part of the Joad family. Overall, the Joads know that money can’t buy happiness, and Ma demonstrates this best when she says, “Rich fellas come up an’ die, an’ their kids… they die out. But we keep a’comin. They can’t wipe us out… We’ll go on forever… cause we’re the people” (Steinbeck, 2006.)
When something does not turn out right, people selfishly tend to cave in on themselves and give up, but there are some who persevere and selflessly help others along the...

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