What can I say about The Great Gatsby that hasn’t already been insightfully discussed? It’s one of those books that are mandatory to read in school. The school walls know more on the subject than any being, and if you listen carefully you can hear them whisper the knowledge of the past, adding to the well-known conversation in literature class.
The Great Gatsby was a book that linearly loomed in my room for years. I read it once mindlessly in high school. I tried to read it again for my own enjoyment, but I never got half way or half way of half way. It’s a slim beast, and I mean that in a positive manner. If you wanted to, you can read Gatsby in one sitting, but Gatsby is too great of a book to be skim through.
It tells the story of Jay Gatsby, through the eyes of Nick Carraway, and his love and his obsession for a girl he dated for a month five years back, Daisy Buchanan.
Simplistically, The Great Gatsby is a love story, but it is also entails the dangers of chasing the American Dream or rather the wrong dream, and notes the lack of empathy from the aristocracy. It takes place in New York during the Jazz Age an age where “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” as the New York Times noted. To F. Scott Fitzgerald, that was the American Dream in the 1920s.
Fitzgerald was a poet I see that now. He wrote beautifully. He wrote about the ugly inners of the rich, but describes them as lovely diamonds. Look at the way he painted Daisy’s voice, “I looked back at my Cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.” In this way, you fall in love with a character’s façade that masks their immoral personality.
I lovingly envy the way Fitzgerald wrote. If I could, I would copy The Great Gatsby word per word in my notebook. The words easily roll off the tongue from the beginning of the novel, “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” Listen to it. It’s poetry but not in the form that a poet writes a poem, it’s lyricism.
As I reflect on the emotions Gatsby has encompassed me in, I ask myself is the American Dream now so different from the American Dream back then? The answer, I think, is no. We are all trying to get a little more drunk and little more richer. Enough is never enough. For Gatsby it wasn’t enough for Daisy to just love him, but she had to say she never loved Tom. For Tom one women isn’t enough. As Nick says the closer we get to our dream the further away they seem, but that doesn’t matter cause, “tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther,” and maybe one day we will be satisfied.