Jay are, where we live, or how we

Jay Gatsby in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s
Death of a Salesman are both American men in pursuit of the American Dream – that is, to
acquire wealth, success, and prestige. This quest for money drives modern-day America, but
behind our perpetual urge to consume and possess lays a grim motive. It is human awareness of
mortality and the subsequent desire to prove we are special and somehow resistant to death that
fuels the longing for wealth and possessions. Belief in Christianity and the afterlife used to
provide an answer to the fear of death, but now money and materialism have come to substitute
for God. Even though we know everyone will eventually die, we strive to attain enough money
and objects so that we might be the exception, or at the very least, our possessions will be passed
on to our family and let our name live on after death. Gatsby and Willy demonstrate this
tendency to deny personal mortality through conspicuous consumption, a version of the
American Dream, and the inevitable death of these characters proves the futility of human
beings’ attempts to deny and defy death.
Every human being is aware of his or her own mortality. No matter who we are, where
we live, or how we live our lives, we will all die eventually, and although we can take steps to
maintain our health and thus increase our longevity, none of us can escape our inevitable demise.
Humans seem to accept death as a sad but normal and unchanging aspect of life, and people go
about their daily business without seeming to give much thought to their impending deaths.
While people do not typically discuss their own death seriously in polite conversation, death is
made trivial through various jokes and plays on words (“You scared me half to death” or “This
job will be the death of me”). The knowledge of human mortality does not appear to impact dayto-day
life.

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