Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Five Things you Should know about The Great Gatsby

If you read The Great Gatsby or did not read The Great Gatsby here are five things you should know.

1. The green light at the end of Daisy's dock. Pivotal symbol of the book. This is the light Gatsby holds his hands out to as if embracing God. This represents (so literary interp profs tell us) the future, the dream Gatsby does not yet possess because he doesn't possess the golden girl yet. The green light across the bay from his mansion represents his impossible desire  (ironically) to repeat the past and it represents the American Dream in all it's promise. How is that for a  dock light?

2. Famous line number one of The Great Gatsby. "Can't repeat the past, of course you can repeat the past!" This Gatsby's response to Nick Caraway when he says you cannot repeat the past. He is referring to Gatsby's affair with Daisy when he was young and that he cannot duplicate. This line then sums up Gatsby's credo. Of course he can repeat the past and he will do it. He will remake his life and grab the beauty he had once before. But of course he is doomed.

3. The famous shirt throwing scene. Gatsby throws brand new shirts into the air for Daisy who breaks down because she has never seen such beautiful shirts before. Interpret this one as you will but the critics hold this scene up as a metaphor for Gatsby's dream and his doom. Daisy loves the shirts at the same time she knows noone can possesses such beauty. She and Gatsby are doomed but she loves the dream. She will never leave Tom and marry Gatsby. She knows this even if he doesn't. There are also interps on this scene as to sex. The shirts represent the sexual ecstasy she can have with Gatsby. Also it shows Gatsby believes his dream can be bought.

4.Famous line two and three. "The man wears a pink suit!" Tom Buchanan throwing dispersion on Gatsby. He is already pointing out that Gatsby is a charlatan,  a bootlegger, and that he will never stand up to the light of day. Or at least to Daisy. Famous line three. "So I drove on toward death." Nick Carroway line presaging the demise of Gatsby and Toms girlfriend Myrtle and his own mortality. He has just realized he turned thirty.

5. Famous Ending. "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." This is the final sentence of the novel. And what Fitzgerald is doing is summing up America. The lines before run..."No matter, tomorrow we will run faster, jump higher we beat on..." That we are doomed. That we are chained by our own ghosts even as reach for what we cannot see. That the America Dream of always wanting more will never make us happy because our happiness is behind us.

There. Now go talk about the book.

Rocket Man...the upside down American Dream

Books by William Hazelgrove