June 25, 1923
This week has been quite eventful. I woke up to the light of the sun shining in my eyes. After almost tripping over myself heading down the stairs, I helped the maids cook breakfast. I was ecstatic for the night to come. My sister Lily and I were heading to one of the famous Gatsby parties. After Lily awoke, we decided to head to the city for the day. Lily found a dazzling gold dress that sparkled (“gold was wealth!” she reminded me), whereas I just found a simple one in white. On our way back home, we passed through the Valley of Ashes, as many like to call it. Glancing out of the window, I noticed the hundreds of young and old men working through the soot. Lily wrinkled her nose at what I assumed was the smell of smoke.
“You’d think that with how hard they’re working they would be a lot richer,” I wondered out loud.
Lily laughed. “What does it matter how rich they are?” I remember her asking, before I tuned her out and drifted into my own thoughts. As I’ve mentioned before, that was Lily in a nutshell. She cared nothing about those below her; to her it was just the rich and the poor. She tended to only concern herself with money, clothes, and men. The perfect little woman.
Later that afternoon, we slipped into our dresses. Lily caked herself in makeup, as always. Half an hour later, we climbed into the white car and the driver whisked us away. The entire trip, Lily talked my ear off about the guests and Gatsby and the type of men she was hoping would attend.
We pulled into the gates an hour early. Nevertheless, the party was already in full swing. The second the driver stopped, Lily grabbed my hand and darted out of the door and toward the mansion. Once inside – as always – it took me a second to adjust to my surroundings. Hundreds of people crowded the house, as well as decorations displayed everywhere. A group of women were dancing and singing on a platform as others watched and danced along. Although it was banned, there was also alcohol in almost all of the guests’ hands. It didn’t matter, though. When you were as rich as a man like Gatsby, the law tends to obey you instead of the other way around.
As always, Lily separated herself from me about ten minutes into us arriving. The last I saw of her, she was dancing openly with the girls on the platform. I grabbed a drink and decided to loosen up a bit. I danced with a few men here and there, but eventually got tired. I pushed my way up the stairs to the balcony where a young man was just standing and watching. We talked a bit, and I learned a few things about him. His name was Nick, and he had just moved from the West. We talked of the party, but mainly of the host himself. Nick wondered about how he achieved so much money, at which I responded to not knowing. I told him of all the rumors I had heard, with none of them seeming to add up. He showed me his invitation, and I recall being startled. I told him that nobody received an invitation. At this, he was startled.
“So all these people; they just show up?” he inquired.
I remember nodding, puzzled.
“Well in that case, I’d like to meet my host. Could you point him out to me so I could thank him?”
Just as I was about to start looking around, it hit me: I didn’t know what he looked like. I voiced this to Nick. He looked at me, dumbfounded. Just as he was about to reply, a woman claiming to be Jordan Baker dragged him away. Once again, I was left in my own thoughts.
How could I not know the face of the man whose house I partied at once a week? Did anybody know what he looked like? Did anyone actually know how he became so ridiculously wealthy?
As the night drew to a close, I found Lily wrapped around a young man, both with empty champagne glasses in their hands. I saw that as my cue to intervene, and grabbed my sister by the arm. She protested the entire way to the car, and of course I ignored her. Once inside, I decided to ask her about Gatsby.
Throughout my “interrogation,” as she liked to call it, Lily’s answers only confused me more.
“Why does it matter, what he does or how rich he is? All that matters is the fact that he has a ton of money and that he throws the best parties in the state,” she snapped.
The ride was silent the rest of the way home.
Now I ask this: is that all that society is?Those who work hard are poor and ignored while those who are rich and upper class don’t have an apparent reason for their wealth at all?
Now focusing on the upper class in general: Why is everyone so oblivious? Why does one not care about another unless for his or her own benefit? The upper class only pays attention to those of their class or higher, not caring about those working to death in places like the Valley of Ashes. They get away with paying off the law when a mistake is made, whereas those with little money are forced to spend what they can to get off clean.
But, as always, it isn’t orthodox to speak of these things aloud. Could you imagine what Lily and mother would say?
That’s all for now.