Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Truth Comes Out: Gatsby Chapter 6

After reading this chapter, I had one burning question in mind: is it ever revealed why Gatsby chose to go by the name of “Jay Gatsby”? Obviously, it’s very close to James Gatz, his real name, but I can’t help but wonder why Jay and Gatsby were chosen. I’d predict that Gatsby chose his name solely on the fact that he figured it sounded wealthy and successful to him, but I hope that there is some sort of explanation for it later on in the book. Chapter six included two big events: the reveal of Gatsby’s real background story, and Tom and Daisy attending one of Gatsby’s parties together. An interesting aspect of Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy is that Gatsby doesn’t feel completely content with being with Daisy again. I think part of this is because of Tom, and the fact that Daisy is still married to him doesn’t allow Gatsby to be completely happy with Daisy. Gatsby has been dreaming of the perfect love story with Daisy for years, and Tom is the only person getting in the way of his dream coming true. Nick describes how Gatsby “talked a lot about the past and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was . . .” (Fitzgerald 117) Ever since Gatsby and Daisy ended their romance five years ago, Gatsby had felt that he was missing something in his life, and that a part of himself went away went Daisy went away. Now that Daisy is back, however, Gatsby is so close to going back to his old self, but Daisy’s marriage to Tom is preventing Gatsby from feeling that his original relationship with Daisy is alive again. How sad! On the subject of Gatsby’s past, I can’t help but wonder if Gatsby had maintained contact with any family after he left home and became successful. Talking about how Gatsby had changed his name to Jay Gatsby, Nick mentions that he “supposed [Gatsby] had the name ready for a long time, even then. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people--his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all” (Fitzgerald 104) Was Gatsby really that unhappy with his lifestyle that he didn’t even consider his parents to be his actual parents? I understand that people dream of living lavish and luxurious lifestyles, but it seems that Gatsby was almost embarrassed of his upbringing, and wanted any way out. Could it be because of disagreements with his family, or other family issues? I’m sure we’ll never find out.

They Meet Again: Gatsby Chapter 5

Chapter five is the type of chapter in which you feel completely awkward while reading, and where you just can’t help but cringe at some of the situations that happen. Or, at least that’s how I felt. In this chapter, the much anticipated reunion between Gatsby and Daisy took place, and while awkward at times, it happened exactly as I expected it to. Upon first sight of each other, Gatsby and Daisy make awkward and small conversation, as Daisy is clearly in disbelief, and Gatsby is so nervous that he makes a fool out of himself multiple times. However, once Daisy learns about Gatsby's lavish lifestyle, and the luxuries that she could indulge in, their relationship becomes just as loving as it once was years before. In my opinion, the reunion with Gatsby is Daisy’s way out of  a miserable life. Daisy, upset with Tom’s affair and his constant neglect for her, is now presented with the opportunity to enjoy life alongside one of the wealthiest men in the area. Daisy’s exaggerated happiness and reactions towards Gatsby’s lifestyle is justified, in my eyes.  At one point, Daisy begins sobbing at the sight of Gatsby’s wardrobe, stating that “‘They’re such beautiful shirts,’ she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. ‘It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such--such beautiful shirts before’” (Fitzgerald 98) The fact that Daisy is crying simply at the site of expensive shirts shows just how much she has waited to be with a man like this, or even, just how much she has wanted to see Gatsby again. Daisy has always wanted to live a powerful, lush, and lavish lifestyle, and I think that from here on out, she will stick by Gatsby’s side so that she’ll be able to enjoy the life she has always dreamed of living. Apart from the reunion between Daisy and Gatsby, chapter five included something that has not been found before anywhere in the book: humor! Describing the awkward first moments of the meeting, Nick describes how “The automatic quality of Gatsby’s answers set us all back at least another minute. I had both on their feet with the desperate suggestion that they help me make tea in the kitchen when the demoniac Finn brought it in on a tray” (Fitzgerald 92) Imagining Daisy, Gatsby, and Nick standing awkwardly and silently in a room together, with nothing to be said or discussed, is actually funny. In addition, Nick’s choice of words for the Finn--”demoniac”-- is Fitzgerald’s humorous way of describing how Nick was mad that she had ruined his plan. Of course, humor is subjective, and many would probably argue that this scene is more tragically awkward instead of funny. In a book where nothing is funny, however, this lighthearted scene was much appreciated.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tea with Jordan: Gatsby Chapter 4

In the last post I complained about the lack of extravagance and mystery surrounding Gatsby’s life, but luckily, chapter 4 provided a background of Gatsby’s past that paints the famous picture of him as a man of elegance and adventure. One thing I find to be interesting about this novel, and this chapter in particular, is that all the men describe the war as if it was a non-significant event. Nick and Gatsby describe the war as if it was just a minor roadblock in their lives, and as if it was just an “obligation” for them to complete before they went ahead with their wealthy and successful lives. When Nick and Gatsby went out for lunch, I picked up on a sense of annoyance from Nick in regards to Gatsby. After Gatsby’s says that he needs a favor from Nick, Nick describes how he “hadn’t the faintest idea what “this matter” was, but I was more annoyed than interested. I hadn’t asked Jordan to tea in order to discuss Mr. Jay Gatsby. I was sure the request would be something utterly fantastic and for a moment I was sorry I’d ever set foot upon his overpopulated lawn” (Fitzgerald 72) Nick seems to be annoyed at Gatsby, and I think it is because he thinks Gatsby is using him just to get closer to Daisy. To me, I think it’s not right for Gatsby to befriend Nick solely because he wants to reconnect with Daisy. Jordan goes on to describe how madly in love Gatsby and Daisy were, and if this is true, Gatsby should have no trouble talking to Daisy by himself. This quote also hints at Nick beginning to develop feelings for Jordan, because he states that he didn’t invite Jordan to tea to help Gatsby, and we can infer that he wanted her to come to tea so that he could spend individual time with her. Something else that I found interesting was the events regarding Daisy’s wedding to Tom. Jordan describes that she “was a bridesmaid, and came into her room half an hour before the bridal dinner and found her lying on her bed as lovely as the June night in her flowered dress--and as drunk as a monkey. She had a bottle of sauterne in one hand and a letter in the other” (Fitzgerald 81) Why did Daisy even marry Tom in the first place? It’s clear that she would rather have been with Gatsby, and even if it was not possible for her to marry Gatsby at the time, she should have never have went through with her marriage to Tom at the time. Unfortunately now for Daisy, she’s stuck in a marriage that she doesn’t want to be in, with a man that she hates.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Gatsby has arrived: Gatsby Chapter 3

To be honest, Chapter 3 was a disappointment in my eyes. This chapter was the first formal introduction of Gatsby, and the first time we've seen him interact with others. I think Gatsby's introduction was disappointing, and I was surprised that it was such a low-key, informal event when the whole book is surrounded around him and he is such a lavish character. At the dinner party, Nick described how "For a moment he looked at me as if he failed to understand. 'I'm Gatsby,' he said suddenly." (Fitzgerald 52) I was waiting for some grand, elegant introduction of Gatsby, but all we got was "I'm Gatsby." So boring! Part of me thinks that Fitzgerald did this on purpose, however, as I believe that he wanted Gatsby's first introduction to be minimal so that he could build upon his character later on. Even though I’m predicting that there will be more lavish and expansive portrayals of Gatsby down the line, I still wish that Fitzgerald hadn’t introduced Gatsby in the way that he did. Chapter 3 also dove further into the relationship between Nick and Jordan. What I find interesting the most about their relationship is the fact that Nick isn’t actually romantically attracted to Jordan, rather he is just interested in being friends with someone like her. Jordan represents the arrogance, but also the glamour of life in the Eggs, and I think that Nick wants to stay close to her so that he can fit in with the others. Also, the fact that he feels a sense of exclusivity around Jordan definitely plays a role in him befriending her. Speaking on his feelings about Jordan, Nick claims that “I wasn’t actually in love, but I felt a sort of tender curiosity. The bored haughty face that she turned to the world concealed something--most affectations conceal something eventually, even though they don’t in the beginning--and one day I found what it was” (Fitzgerald 62)  Nick is not shy in admitting that he has no romantic feelings towards Jordan, but rather just a strong curiosity about her. I feel like many people think that this is not a good thing, and that it’s misleading towards Jordan. However, I think it’s smart of Nick. Jordan is probably the best option for Nick out of all the women in the novel, and I think that if he doesn’t have romantic feelings for her, then he should at least befriend her. Jordan knows that ins and outs of the Eggs, and its residents, so I think that she would be a great person for Nick to count on. Besides, who wants to be alone in a place like the Eggs during the summer?

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Valley of Ashes (and affairs): Gatsby Chapter 2

Chapter 2 revolved mainly around the relationship between Tom and his mistress, Myrtle Wilson. Upon first introduction of Myrtle, I knew that I didn’t like her. She seemed arrogant and ungrateful, and she treated her husband coldly. I think part of the reason why I do not like her so much is that her husband is a humble man who truly loves Myrtle, but she wants nothing to do with him. Nick’s first glance at Myrtle made me laugh, when he described that “She was in her middle thirties, and faintly stout, but she carried her surplus flesh sensuously as some women can. Her face, above a spotted dress of dark blue crepe-de-chine, contained no facet or gleam of beauty, but there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smoldering” (Fitzgerald 29-30).  Nick, in a somewhat elegant description, describes Myrtle as an ugly woman, with an ugly personality. I liked Nick’s further description of Myrtle and her personality because upon first reading, I thought that she had an ugly personality too. To me, however, it’s no surprise that she has an affair with Tom, as Tom is equally arrogant and ugly in my opinion. Speaking on the affair, I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal for Tom and Myrtle to keep their relationship a secret when almost everyone knows the details of their affair. On their way to Myrtle’s secret apartment in New York City, Nick explains that “Tom Buchanan and his girl and I went up to New York--or not quite together, for Mrs. Wilson sat discreetly in another car. Tom deferred that much to the sensibilities of those East Eggers who might be on the train” (Fitzgerald 31) While I understand that obviously no one would want to admit to an affair, I think that Tom and Myrtle should just make their lives easier and go public with their affair. That way, Tom and Daisy can live without worry of their spouses, Daisy can feel free to find another man, and Mr. Wilson won’t have to live with a woman who doesn’t have the same feelings that he does. But, of course, this is a fictional book set in the 1920’s, so obviously the solution can’t be as simple as that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Welcome to the Eggs: The Great Gatsby Chapter 1

In the opening of The Great Gatsby, author F. Scott Fitzgerald sets the scene for a hectic summer on Long Island. While I wasn't particularly excited for the rest of the book after reading this chapter, I did like the fact that Fitzgerald started out with detailed descriptions of the characters who will most likely be playing the biggest roles in the novel. What I found the most interesting in this chapter, however, is the portrayal of Tom and Daisy’s marriage. On the subject of an injured knuckle, Daisy claims that “You did it, Tom,” she said accusingly. I know you didn't mean to but you did do it. That's what I get for marrying a brute of a man, a great big hulking, physical specimen of a--” (Fitzgerald 16) This quote, and the events that follow it, showed me that Tom and Daisy are both unhappy in their marriage, but neither of the two will leave the other, even with knowledge of affairs and cheating. Tom and Daisy having a rocky marriage also makes the book more interesting in my opinion, because who doesn't love a good relationship scandal? Nick, in my opinion, is the most likable character, due to his down to earth personality, and his lack of an inflated ego. I’m interested to see how he will survive the summer in the Eggs surrounded by wealthy, snobbish people. In the presence of Daisy, Nick describes that “‘You make me feel uncivilized, Daisy’, I confessed on my second glass of corky but rather impressive claret. ‘Can’t you talk about crops or something?’” (Fitzgerald 17) Nick’s confession about him feeling uncivilized around Daisy makes me wonder how he’ll be able to have any type of true relationship with anyone in the Eggs. Jordan Baker, Daisy’s equally gaudy friend, will definitely make Nick’s life interesting in my opinion, as I can definitely predict by their first introduction that a relationship of sorts between the two will begin to blossom further down the road. My first thoughts on The Great Gatsby are mixed. I’m not really interested in reading this book, but since I must, I am curious to see how Nick (my favorite character) will make a name for himself in the Eggs. Besides, I can see some of myself reflected in Nick. While Nick feels uncivilized in the presence of the people in the Eggs, I feel too civilized in the presence of some of the people that live in my area. Is that too harsh? Until Chapter 2...