"Her voice is full of money" (Great Gatsby)
Rosemary looks around her on the beach to the two sets of people; the tanned community under the umbrella and the people,
"where the beach was strewn with pebbles and dead sea-weed, sat a group with flesh as white as her own ... Less indigenous to the place. Between the dark people and the light, rosemary found room" (14).
Here then we are presented with a spectacle in physical terms of class and social divisions, those who get the 'plot' and those who do not as Mrs McKisco visions it in a voice of resentment and alienation. They buy an umbrella in copycat and competitive fashion "that they set up with side glances toward the divers, and crept under with satisfied expressions" (28). The McKisco's appear mediocre in comparison to the exquisite Nicole under the parasol and the attractive Dr Diver who entertains his companions; Rosemary prefers the look of them. The Divers and their tanned community are set against the other set through their evident wealth, they are surrounded by luxury goods; "four large parasols... a portable bath house for dressing, a pneumatic rubber horse, new things that Rosemary had never seen, from the first burst of luxury manufacturing after the War" (27) - they are goods crammed with implications then even if surplus to requirements in reality. Their leisure time is filled with useless tasks as Dick rakes Gausse's beach smooth. We can see a radical revision of the class structure in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; it is these differences that are noted and explored by Fitzgerald - he penetrates the surfaces of riches to illustrate a structure beneath. The Divers whilst charming and entertaining are élitist; they invite the McKiscos et al to dinner at Villa Diana because Dick wants to create a spectacle, "I want to give a really bad party ... I want to give a party where there's a brawl and seductions and people going home with their feelings hurt" (36).
In Paris their social circle expands very little and they rejoice in one another's superior company, re- creating their unity and politely excluding and destroying outsiders "They had been two days in Paris but actually they were still under the beach umbrella" (62). Some of his gaudiest celebrations, as Marius Bewley points out, are simultaneously his most annihilating criticisms. In The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, riches are taken to grotesque extremes; the infinite material possibilities of the dream are exaggerated ridiculing the American delusion, and the inhumanity and the basest extent of its aspirations. Whilst there is glamour to marvel at there is also the ridicule as the paper seller shows Dick the cartoon of the Americans pouring from the gangplank of a liner freighted with gold (105). Fitzgerald has what Malcom Cowley calls a double vision; whilst he surrounds the characters on the Riviera of Tender is the Night in a mist of admiration, champagne, glamour, luxury and beauty, he also seeks to dispel that mist as we see in his treatment of Nicole's shopping spree. She is both praised for her grace and condemned:
"Nicole was the product of much ingenuity and toil. For her sake train began their run at Chicago ... Chicle factories fumed ... and as the whole system swayed and thundered onward it lent a feverish bloom to such processes of hers as wholesale buying, like the flush of a fireman's face holding his post before a spreading blaze. She illustrated very simple principles, containing in herself her own doom, but illustrated them so accurately that there was grace in the procedure" (65)
She epitomises the excesses of wealth and individualism as she purchases everything she likes, without a purpose or need. She spends and never saves; acquires instead of accumulates. The system that slaves away is shown as unstable and overpowering as it sways and thunders thus highlighting the Crash to come. Her spending is likened to the spread of a flush or a fire; both beautiful but both indicating negative connotations of ill health and destruction. It is this shift in buying ethics, this un-contained spread, and the expansion of the market of consumers beyond itself and its capabilities, which led to the wall-street crash and the subsequent Great Depression. So Fitzgerald in elucidating the time of the now (as in 1925) he also alludes to the future (of post 1929 into the 30's) - it is time shot through with the future but also the past.
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