The Face of Gatsby

In “Face-Work and Interaction Rituals” Erving Goffman discusses the importance of reputation in society. He states that individuals claim positive social value or “face” through the lines they take or parts they perform during interaction. So how one is judged during interaction can have a great effect on their value. If someone were to have a bad interaction with someone they may be in wrong face and make the person feel negative about their social worth. I used Jay Gatsby as an example for this because he is constantly trying to show that he has a high social value by showing off his money and throwing extravagant parties. However, his face quickly turns into a wrong face when people realize how he got his money, for example when Tom calls him out for being “new money”. Gatsby’s starts to feel bad when he realizes he will never be on the same social level as people like Tom that come from old money. Gatsby typically avoids people he keeps his life very secret and how he got his money so his reputation isn’t threatened, which is an example of self – explanatory face work. Keeping a positive face in society can be difficult because we will always encounter interactions that make us feel somewhat devalued.