The Great Gatsby and Scoliosis

Background on Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby, is widely renowned for its exploration of themes like the pursuit of the American dream and the hollowness of the upper class. However, the novel also contains subtle references to physical health, particularly in its main character, Jay Gatsby. At the time of its publication, the novel’s reference to scoliosis was groundbreaking, as it highlighted an issue that was rarely discussed in public.

Gatsby’s physical condition is implied in several passages throughout the novel, suggesting that he suffered from scoliosis. In particular, there is a scene in which Gatsby is described as having an “eccentric” posture, his “left shoulder” being “somehow a littlehigher than his right.” This description is consistent with the posture of someone with scoliosis.

The following list outlines the key facts surrounding Gatsby’s possible scoliosis:

  1. Gatsby was described as having an “eccentric” posture, with his left shoulder being higher than his right.
  2. The descriptions in the novel are consistent with the posture of someone with scoliosis.
  3. Scoliosis is a medical condition that causes an abnormal curvature of the spine.
  4. It is a condition that was rarely discussed in public at the time of the novel’s publication.
  5. Gatsby’s scoliosis serves as a metaphor for the emotional and psychological burden he carries.

Given the subtle and nuanced descriptions of Gatsby’s physical condition in the novel, it is reasonable to surmise that he suffered from scoliosis. In addition to being a physical affliction, Gatsby’s scoliosis serves as a metaphor for the emotional and psychological burden he carries, adding a new layer of meaning to the novel.

Background on Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a complex medical condition that occurs when the spine curves abnormally sideways. It is usually diagnosed in adolescents, but can also occur in adults. This condition can range in severity from mild cases, which may not require treatment, to more severe cases which can cause the spine to twist and rotate, resulting in severe deformity, pain and even disability. While the exact cause of scoliosis is not known, current research suggests that it is a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition and may include exercises, bracing, or in extreme cases, surgical intervention. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald contains elements of the scoliotic condition, providing readers a unique and insightful look into the impact of this musculoskeletal disorder.

Themes in The Great Gatsby related to Scoliosis

In the novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald utilizes the theme of health to delve into the psychological effects of scoliosis on the protagonist, Jay Gatsby. Through his depiction of Jay Gatsby’s physical struggles and the impact that his condition has on his life, Fitzgerald portrays scoliosis not just as a physical limitation but as a psychological burden that affects Gatsby’s ability to lead a fulfilling life. Within the novel, Gatsby is plagued by a sense of shame associated with his physical appearance and his inability to be accepted by the upper classes he so desperately yearns to join. Even with his multiple accomplishments and wealth, Gatsby’s scoliosis still takes its toll on him, creating a sense of insecurity and a distorted view of himself as a misfit in society. His physical disability also serves to impede his romance with Daisy Buchanan, as Gatsby fails to win her affections simply because of his physical deformity. Ultimately, The Great Gatsby serves as a reminder of the importance of celebrating physical differences, with the view that such differences should not impede personal happiness.

Connections between Scoliosis and the Characters

The famous novel, The Great Gatsby, is a story of several characters that are entangled in a web of relationships. As a reader, you may overlook some of the subtle connections between the characters and their experiences, specifically regarding physical health. One of the underlying diseases discussed in the novel is scoliosis.Scoliosis is a musculoskeletal disorder of the spine where the vertebrae are curved. The curvature of the spine can occur in any direction, especially in the thoracic region. This is when we look at characters like Daisy who reveals shoulder pain to Gatsby. Her shoulder pain could be a symptom of the disease. Additionally, when Gatsby throws his shirts away due to them being too tight, he may have been experiencing pain from the increased pressure of scoliosis, causing his clothing to feel tight and restrictive on the affected areas of the body. The following is a list of physical and psychological effects of scoliosis, as it could relate to The Great Gatsby:

  1. Difficulty breathing/ diminished lung capacity
  2. Hip, shoulder and knee pain
  3. Limping and walking challenges
  4. Poor posture and decreased self-esteem
  5. Back pain, rib prominence, and an asymmetrical appearance

Scoliosis can have a tremendous impact on a person’s life, as evidenced in The Great Gatsby. The physical and psychological symptoms of this disease show the fragility of the characters, demonstrating the importance of understanding the effects of physical health and the connection to the narrative.

Contrast between Gatsby and the Lead Character

The Great Gatsby is a classic novel of triumph and tragedy. In this story, Jay Gatsby leads a life of great affluence and excess. However, in contrast to Gatsby, the lead character in the novel suffers from scoliosis. Scoliosis is a medical condition of the spine which results in a curvature of the spine, causing physical pain and discomfort. While Gatsby is able to live a life of luxury and joy, the lead character must struggle on a daily basis with this chronic condition. Gatsby and the lead character have strikingly different experiences when it comes to health and well-being. By juxtaposing Gatsby’s lavish life with the lead character’s struggle with scoliosis, Fitzgerald illustrates the stark differences between those with enduring health conditions and those with the privilege to remain healthy and carefree.


In conclusion, it is evident that the physical condition of Jay Gatsby was an important part of his life. Gatsby had scoliosis, a medical condition that causes curvature of the spine, which had significant impact on both his physical appearance and psychological state. Despite his physical limitations, Gatsby was a determined man who strived to reach for his dreams. His physical condition emphasized the importance of health, and inspired people to strive for success in spite of their limitations.

  1. Be mindful of your physical health
  2. Strive to reach your dreams
  3. Do not let any physical limitations stop you
  4. Embrace determination and courage

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