1-20-99 Can't Buy Me Love The depression was an era of extremes. A person was more than likely extremely poor, or in the lucky upper 1% that was extremely wealthy. The middle class was virtually not existent. All of these income groups, including those characterized in our three stories, wanted money because it supposedly brought happiness, but were actually struggling to cling to the intangible, unreachable feeling of love.
If money leads to love, Dexter Green has bought it a thousand times over. He wanted not association with the glittering things and glittering people [but] the glittering things themselves" even if they come in the shape of an object, a person, a house, a manner, or as simple as a life (Fitzgerald Dreams 58). He is still the "proud, desirous little boy" of his youth (Dreams 64). This reincarnation of the Victorian gilded age reinstates the fact those things that look of worth might really be empty of value inside. This glittering hollowed thing for Dexter Green appears as Judy Jones. He wants her; he longs for her because he has everything else.
"Often he reached out for the best without knowing why he wanted it;" just another trophy on his shelf, and seemingly the gift one might give a person who has everything (Dreams 58). He is desperate for the lifestyle, the glittering things, and belonging. Judy, herself, is a symbol of wealth and to men, the ideal of love. She has proper breeding, incredible beauty, popularity, and above of all, lots of money. Though she is what men want to use as an example of love, she can not love. Rather, she is merely the idea of love and evidently the irony of love.
She has no human capacity for it for she is only playing the game to prove that she can "[make] men conscious to the highest degree of her physical loveliness" and make them fall in love with her in an instant (Dreams 65). Judy ha fun with men and "was entertained only by the gratification of her desires and by the direct exercise of her own charm" (Dreams 61-2). She optimizes the evils of money and loses all that is attractive about her when tied down to marriage. She was a goddess with no morals in the eyes of men but was desperate for power, lust, and the thought of finding love. Francis and Margot add an interesting twist to our achieved view of the rich. Francis was a metaphorical light in the darkness of money.
Unlike the rest of the characters, he had a happy ending to his life for he was truly happy during his last moments. Death did not stop him, because no matter what anyone did or said about him, he had won; he beat his stereotype. Life is the lion to Francis Macomber, the "worst one can do is kill you" and in a way it did (Hemmingway 1587). He was the only one to be physically depraved because of his early death.
He, ultimately, was desperate to be a man and desperate to have "no bloody fear" in leaving Margaret (Hemmingway 1587). The name, Margot, will now because of this character, will mean uncaring. Every aspect of her life had been by evil and hate for herself, which she then deposited onto her husband. She is the type of person that in order to make herself feel worthy has to taunt, tease and slander someone; she is "simply enameled in American female cruelty" (Hemmingway 1569).
She is desperate to stay young and beautiful; she was desperate to make sure she was not left behind. She had Francis's ticket in her hot little hand but kept in close to her because without it he would have left her. For "Margot was too beautiful for Macomber to divorce her and Macomber had too much money for Margot ever to leave him" (Hemmingway 1579). This is a marital "check" to keep each other in a position where they might not be able to leave. This is clear connection to Judy Jones and the way she loves to play with a man's mind. Margot does it not like Judy just because she can, but rather because she believes, she has to.
From the examples we can see a model rich woman: idle, sinister, bored, and scared, the perfect jezebel. Marion and Charlie's relationship in "Babylon Revisited" seems to be the internal conflict between the rich and the poor in the depression. Charlie's life is summarized as the pursuit of pleasure. He did not work hard; he played hard, where one might have worried; he would have been carefree. Until he lost "everything [he] wanted in the boom", his world, wife, money, and then his daughter (Fitzgerald Babylon 229).
A man such as this would not be expected to love as he did his wife and he does to his child. Through his character, an "awfully anxious [man] to have a home" can be seen who is trying to find a place where love is present in a loveless world (Fitzgerald Babylon 219). He could receive some love from his daughter, but one person stands in the way, a woman with a grudge. Marion is deprived of money, more than anything in the world, she would love to live the rich life of no responsibilities, but she can not.
She is not able to love, like the other women studied, but because her heart is hardened to it. She now can only hate. Marion hates Charlie because she can see him living the life that she should be living, more than that; she hates him because she blames her sister's death on him. She had "forgotten how hard [Charlie] worked for seven years"; "she only remembers one night (Fitzgerald Babylon 224). He is her broken mind, is evil; evil needs to be punished, so she takes out all of her aggression from her life of poverty and hardship onto him.
Marion, because of all this is "not well and... can't stand shocks" (Fitzgerald Babylon 228). She wants to keep Honoria with her, supposedly to protect her from her evil father, but she is actually keeping her to spite Charlie. For if Charlie has love, he has everything.
Marion is desperate for things she can never have (i. e. money, love, her sister life, freedom from responsibilities). In Conclusion, all of these characters wanted something they could just not have. Most love, some courage, and some money, but the key here is that humans are driven by want. Money can buy a safari, or trip to Paris, or maybe a day on the links, but money can not buy happiness and money can not buy love.
That is why all of these characters and all of us are desperate to feel wanted and loved because it is nothing you can buy; you have to earn it. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. "Babylon Revisited." Fiction '00.
Third edition James H. Pickering. New York: Macmillan, 1982. 210-30.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. "Winter Dreams." The American Tradition in Literature. Fourth edition. Sculley Bradley. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1974.
54-75. Hemmingway, Ernest. "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." The American Tradition in Literature. Fourth edition. Sculley Bradley. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1974.
1564-90. Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States. New York: The New Press, 1997.