Did the American Dream die in 2008, or did it die in 1918—or did it never really exist at all? In The Great Gatsby, the American Dream is supposed to stand for independence and the ability to make something of one's self with hard work, but it ends up being more about materialism and selfish pursuit of pleasure. No amount of hard work can change where Gatsby came from, and old money knows it. Merit and hard work aren't enough, and so the American Dream collapses—just like the ballooning dresses of Jordan and Daisy when Nick first sees them.
Gatsby's experiences in New York prove that the "American Dream" is impossible to achieve.
By referring to figures like Ben Franklin and Buffalo Bill, Fitzgerald suggests that the entire concept of the American Dream is based on a lie.