Footnotes: The Great Gatsby

bfz5ovh9ecolxdr1f3j00fka2.534x800x1      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.

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10 thoughts on “Footnotes: The Great Gatsby

  1. Someone that loves Gatsby! And the magic of how Fitzgerald wrote. I love the part in the very beginning where Nick enter’s with Tom and the line: ‘The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and thend rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea…..” Then it continues on to the dresses of the young women on the ‘enormous couch’. I know what you mean about wanting to write the entire book in my journal. My father mocks the story, having never read the book, but seen the film, and not being a writer himself, can’t appreciate the way the words fit together in this tight little puzzle of amazing things.
    Ah, I could gush more. You get it. I’ll stop. 🙂

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    • I get what you mean. As I was writing this piece I called a few friends to talk to about the book, in order to bounce off ideas, but sadly none of them read the book and only seen the movie. I was frustrated because for a while I wanted to just talk about this novel and share lines from it. I feel your pain.

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      • Oh that is so frustrating. Boo on people that haven’t read it. Incidentally, I am reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. While a total tomb and rather daunting, the style of writing/prose is rather magical in its own way. Especially how Ayn describes her characters.
        That being said, I’m on page 60 of 1168 pages….. I sighed loudly when I realize that earlier on in the day.

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      • Ah, I would always see that book at every bookstore I go to, and thought about reading it. The book has influenced a few of my favorite things like a game called Bioshock. I have to admit, the size of it is a bit intimidating.

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      • The size is VERY intimidating. It does help to listen to the audio… but even still, it’s daunting. It’s the same reason I haven’t read The Count of Monte Cristo. The size is exhausting. And because most of the books I read come from the library, I have about 3 weeks to read a massive book. It’s not gonna happen. 😛

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      • I think the most daunting book I have planned in my reading challenge (that I’m actually looking forward to reading) is Ulysses. It’s the last book I’ll read to close the challenge.

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      • Oh lord, Brave Soul you are. I had attempted the Iliad a while ago, but that was before I understood what form of verse I was reading, and I found it so tiring. I think it depends on my frame of mind. I keep trying to read Bronte’s Jane Eyre and I have yet to get anywhere near it. I own it. I sigh when I see it on my shelf. It’s not that large books scare me, but sometimes I don’t have the patience for them and if I start them, but don’t finish them, then by the time I get around to starting them up, I have forgotten what the premise was and I have to start all over. I applaud you for closing out the challenge with Ulysses.

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