The Great Gatsby (Discussion)

The great gatsbyHappy Halloween! Did anyone read The Great Gatsby with me this month? Does anyone remember reading it in high school and want to join in?

I have a few confessions before we get started. First, I did read The Great Gatsby my junior year of high school, but I didn't remember a thing. Okay, that's not true. I vaguely remembered Gatsby's sprawling lawn being talked about a lot. But when I selected this book I was excited because I felt like I would be approaching it with completely fresh (albeit 12 years older) eyes. 

Second, I read half of the book and listened to the other half (the audio book is performed by Jake Gyllenhaal and is awesome!). This is the first audio book I've used in a long time, and it reminded me how entertaining they can be (and how great it is to be able to "read" and walk or knit at the same time).

And third… I really slogged through the first half of this book. In some ways I felt like I was back in high school with a reading deadline, and it was hard to make progress. But then the second half— chapters 6-9—FLEW for me. I couldn't put it down/stop listening. For me, the characters and the plot really came alive.

 
Elise blaha cripeSo on to the meat of this discussion.
 
1. Was this your first time through or did you re-read like me? Did you struggle to connect like I did in the beginning? Were you enthralled the whole time? Did you ever engage with the story? I'd love to hear.

2. What do you think about Nick as the narrator? I thought it was an interesting choice to basically have a "bystander" tell the story in first person when Fitzgerald could have just as easily "told" the story in third person. Nick knew everything. He knew about all the relationships. He knew who was really driving the car. The characters confessed a lot to him so we, the audience, could have a front row seat to the action. But Nick, while part of the whole thing, doesn't do much to drive the plot.

I thought it was so interesting how the story opens :

    In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
     “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

It's almost like Fitzgerald is saying, "Hey, these characters are all pretty screwed up, but let's not judge them too much and let that get in the way of this story, okay?"

3. In the end, Gatsby (The Great, which turns out is sort of ironic) dies in a quick—not really part of the action—way. We don't see it. We don't read much detail about it. It's just over in less than a paragraph. This flawed and somewhat fraudulent main character dies and then no one really cares enough to go to the funeral. What did you think of that? What sort of a statement do you think Fitzgerald wanted to make?

4. How did you feel at the end? Did you like any of the characters? I didn't really. It almost felt like watching a reality television show from the 1920s. Everyone's crazy and has too much time on their hands. But somehow I'm intrigued… and sad.

I would love your thoughts on these points and any others. I will be responding in the comments. Thank you so much for reading and chatting with me! -Elise (blog & Instagram)
 
P.S. Don't forget to pick up your copy of Not That Kind of Girl for November!
 
Credits // Author: Elise Cripe. Photos by: Sarah Rhodes and Elise Cripe. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.
  • What an excellent comment! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. And thanks so much for mentioning poor Wilson!

  • Isn’t it funny how much difference a teacher can make? I know there are books that I love that I would not have at all liked if it hadn’t been for the teachers that guided me through them.

    The first time I read this book (also my junior year), I did not like it. Then I read it with another professor and I appreciated it so much more. I would actually re-read it on my own now, which I never would have done if it hadn’t been for that second professor.

  • The only Fitzgerald work I’ve read is The Great Gatsby. What else do you recommend from him?

  • Absolutely love this book ( and the movie also ).
    I liked the way it was written In Nicks point of view, i found it made it more interesting and i believe a lot of Fitzgerald’s own views were expressed through Nick as a character. For anyone that hasnt read this book yet and finds it hard to get sucked into a book straight away, I recommend watching the movie first, makes it a lot easier to understand and follow 🙂

    www.maddybffae.blogspot.com

  • I dislike the characters (as in I proooobablly wouldn’t choose them to be my closest friends), but the work is certainly moving. The first time I read this book I was very young and pretty shocked by the characters. The second time I read it, I was significantly older and more experienced with the deep kind of reading The Great Gatsby allows you to engage in. I don’t feel like I’m judging the work by saying its characters are difficult to like. I simultaneously find those characters to be masterfully crafted. It can be difficult for authors to create unlikable characters. It is impressive to find characters with repulsive behavior enmeshed in such an utterly compelling work.

    Maybe some people project their gut level reaction towards a character onto the work as a whole, but for others like me a single work can illicit multiple layers of feeling.

  • 1. So I first read this book in high school and was not a fan. I didn’t actively hate it, but I didn’t like it. I still don’t love it, but after re-reading it in college I appreciate it so much more. It is so rich with meaning.

    2. Hmm. That’s an interesting question, but it would totally change the story to have it told in the third person.

    3. It shows the futility of Gatsby’s pursuits—his pursuit of wealth, his pursuit of the past, his pursuit of Daisy . . .

    You see this futility over and over again in the book.

    In the very first lines, the story is set up with this epigram:

    Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
    If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
    Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
    I must have you!”

    This is supposed to be a quotation from Thomas Parke D’Invilliers–but guess what–there is no Thomas Parke D’Invilliers. Fitzgerald made him up.

    And then of course, it ends with these famous words of futility: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

    4. Of course I didn’t like the characters. 😀 Well, some are less likable than others. Your reality TV analogy is hilarious. I think Fitzgerald described it best: “They were careless people.” Ouch. He really hit a nerve there.

    “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

  • I, too, read this book in high school and it became one of my favorites. So much so that I went out and bought my own copy when it came time to hand back in the school’s copy. It now sits on my bookshelf as a book I’ll keep, and read, forever. F Scott Fitzgerald writes wonderfully and with such detail about that era; the glamor, the fun, the parties, the glitz. All of it told so well. It’s a book that just draws you right in and won’t let you go. I love it, and always will.

  • Late to the game, but Nick really isn’t unbiased. His words in the opening of the book are ironic; all he does is judge people. He wants to be in their world, but he knows he never will be. He also knows that he shouldn’t want it. He’s resentful, but he’s also a little jealous of those around him. Nick is in awe of Gatsby, but he’s also a little disgusted by the excess in Gatsby’s life. And obviously, he judges Tom and Daisy. Some of his judgments may be right on the mark, but still, he does judge a lot.

    Also, this book has the greatest last line of all time. I can’t even think of it without choking up!

  • In high school, my English teacher had us read The Great Gatsby in class, we followed along in the book with the audiobook and the result was that everyone in the class really enjoyed the book. I still enjoy the book, and while it can be wordy at times, it had a coolness to it, I think that helps that Nick is a bystander because it feels engaging, like you’re there, moreso than if it were in 3rd person. It’s the lavish parties by a mystery host, the sad romance of living in the past and for someone, it’s the hope and the action and the tragedy. The ending really speaks to superficiality, Gatsby lived a superficial life to gain the attention and praise of Daisy, who ultimately chose to keep her own superficial life and Gatsby had no true friends to mourn for him because he was, like you said, basically a reality TV show and it was over and everyone just forgot about it. I really liked the most recent movie, I felt like it showed the story very well.

    complete aside: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was also written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, after seeing the movie and noticing that in the credits, I read a collections of his short stories which I also enjoyed.

  • Right. I think that the point of having Nick as the narrator (rather than Fitzgerald simply stating what’s happening) is that we, the audience, are then exposed to Gatsby in the same manner as if we actually met him in person. We experience the mystery, the awe, the questioning, and then, the disappointment. If we had an omnipotent 3rd-person narrator (what we would have had with Fitzgerald rather than Nick), there would be no mystery. To fully know a person is to know their flaws, so it makes sense that the reader is introduced to Gatsby little, by little so that we can experience his splendor and then eventually witness his cracking facade.

    I understand the allure of getting swept away into another era, but I feel that idolizing the time kind of misses the whole point of the book. The 20s were an era of excess, what was supposed to be the ultimate representation of fruition of the American Dream. The characters and the time, however, are flawed and empty. Gatsby is obscenely wealthy but missing what he most desires, the desire to re-live the past (I would argue that he doesn’t want Daisy as the person that she is, but for what she represents). What he wants can never be achieved. The perception that perfection can exist is erroneous. Everything was supposed to be perfect and shiny, yet nothing was right. We’re not supposed to like the characters — we’re supposed to see their flaws and the flaws behind what they represent.

  • I did wonder if Daisy was in love with Gatsby. We never really hear her say the words. I can’t really seem to explain some of Daisy’s actions. The description of the past was solely from Jordan and Gatsby. Did she just “get back together” with Gatsby as a distraction from Tom and his mistress?

  • I like how you say you wouldn’t want to be friends with anyone in the book because that is always what bothers me about Nick. He claims to be just an observing and non judgemental and never seems like a bad guy, but he is so easily dragged into a life with horrible people and never speaks up.

  • Oh man oh man this is the blog post for me, Miss English Degree and lover of this book. The first time I read it, junior year – I hated it. But then I read it again for a class the next year and the teacher made all the difference. I’ve read it a few times sense and just love it.

    The effect of having Nick, a character without much pull on the story, is an interesting one. Usually the narrator drives the plot but as you said in this case, that isn’t the case at all! I think if we were to read it from Gatsby or Daisy or any other point of view, we wouldn’t get reliable information. All the other characters are too self absorbed to really offer great insight – though of course, Nick isn’t always the most fair either – since they are too focused at the events happening now or in the past.

    Gatsby especially, which would make the most sense be narrator, wouldn’t be good at all. He’d spend most of his time chatting away about Daisy and the past that the book would probably be twice the size. So in the end, Nick ends up being the best person to tell the story. Although I have had a teacher that says he becomes a little…how we say, unreliable in that he may or may harbor some feelings toward Gatsby. But that in itself opens the whole story up in a different light!

    And I have a question you didn’t ask: does anyone think that Gatsby was too good for Daisy, in the end? I would go as far to say their love wasn’t even real. Not really. I have no doubt that Gatsby loved Daisy with all his heart. That’s the tragic thing about it all. But Daisy – I’m not sure. She doesn’t love Tom, that’s for sure, but I think she loves the idea of going against Tom and her family’s wishes most of all. In the end, though, that doesn’t really stick because she loves the life she has too much to completely commit to Gatsby. She can’t marry poor, can’t love through richer or poorer – poorer being the operative. Their love, in the end, is a bit like Romeo & Juliet – tragic and beautiful to read about, but in the end, completely misguided as well.

  • To each their own, but this book was such a fantastic commentary on the times and culture of the 1920s. The extravagance, the lavishly horrible affairs and lives of the main characters…maybe the 1920s were a reality show for the rich. It may be why it’s entertaining to read while you’re reading it, but after finishing it, you feel a little disgusted. Because personally, the characters are excessive, ostentatious. And that’s exactly why I love the book, and all the characters, especially Gatsby. Because he was horrible, because he was the epitome of the american dream, where people were willing to do whatever to achieve that lifestyle, even if it meant giving up a lot of the generally accepted ethics.

  • I read this a couple of months back for my Literature class in university! Like you though I felt a bit disinterested on the first few chapters but the last ones were enthralling!

    I liked how even though Gatsby’s the main protagonist of the novel, we view his story from the perspective of Nick. We see his life the way others see it, first as the aloof man that everyone makes weird rumours about and the next is the man who’s irrevocably in love with Daisy.

    It’s definitely not something I would pick up on my own while wandering around a bookstore, but I’m happy that this novel was assigned to us in class!

  • Gasp! Initially, I thought Gatsby was one of the most romantical characters ever written…EVER. I fell in love with him AND F. Scott. He “dispensed starlight to casual moths” for goodness sake. And then, I wanted to throw this book out the window because of how spoiled – “Her voice is full of money” – and wretched everyone is by the end. I had more fun in my head imagining Fitzgerald writing this frustratingly classic classic and then hanging out with Zelda and Hemingway in Paris. My goodness, how fun.

  • I found this book really interesting- I did study it at school which initially put me off but I love Baz Luhrmann and so after watching the movie version I felt inspired to give it another go. I actually quite like the fact that it was told from Nick’s point of view. At first it threw me off a little because he seemed a little passionless and it sort of underlined a creeping feeling of depression and inertia that I felt in the story. But then I started to think about who Nick was and why the author kept him a bit of a mystery and I liked how it was all left so open to interpretation. I feel that he is almost a mirror in the story that you can impose parts of yourself onto and draw connections to the story from your own life experiences. I also liked the fact that this book is not ‘happy’ in the typical sterotypical sense-it definitely makes me think a bit more carefully which I like!:)

  • I read it in 10th grade and we had to analyze it. I liked it very much but did not understand it properly. Years later I sat enthralled through the movie with R. Redford, M. Farrow. It was a long movie and not That good, but it captured the era and the lines were straight from the book. THAT is rare. Daisy was sooo bad (I never liked Mia Farrow much), but Redford was soooo good and believable. I love almost all Fitzgerald’s novels and this one is no exception.

  • I dislike it when people ask if you liked the characters. I think that’s an odd criteria for judging art. The more appropriate question is did they make you feel anything? Roxanne Gay has an amazing essay on this dilemma as it applies to female authors who write difficult female characters. It’s in her newest book, Bad Feminist.

    The Great Gatsby is an amazing snapshot of a distinctly American period. Fitzgerald captures the tone perfectly with well developed characters in relatively few pages. He really was a master. This book was published in 1926. He wrote it while living it. No retrospection. That’s simply amazing. It’s one of the most lyrical novels.

  • I read it at school and because it was so short had time to read it twice! The first time the whole thing missed me completely and I was left feeling like what was even the point? But the second time I loved it. I’m not even sure why.

    I feel that Nick was a clever narrative strategy as he’s not directly involved in the drama yet we can still feel emotion from his rendition of it.

    I think I really need to read it again!

  • I have tried so many times to read this book…I literally can’t get past the second page without my eyes closing. I don’t know what it is about it because I love that era and I’m a HUGE reader. Must be something to do with the story because I even managed to fall asleep during the film!

    Weird!

  • I too retread this book recently- when the film came out. Typical.

    Anyway, for me Gatsby represents someone who wanted it all and gets it. Then he realises it’s not enough. This is reflective of the post war Feeling of ‘we should be happy because the war is over’ but the trauma still remains so people looked for happiness anywhere and everywhere. I think it still rings so true today with our society- materialism and searching for happiness through the next object or pursuit. He is manic about remaining a mystery and remains in the shadows. I think this is because he actually feels unworthy of the name and status he has built so shys away. He is worried people will “find out” he’s not really worthy or doesn’t deserve all that he has.

    This kind of links to the idea of having it all. Because as soon as you have it all, you worry about losing it. I think these are a few of the points Fitzgerald is trying to make, the way he writes allow for so many interpretations, it’s almost like he has made the characters so flawed that anyone can empathise with those flaws!

    So much I could say! Love it!

  • I was so excited to read this book, after watching the film. I probably should of read the book first in hindsight. Im not sure if watching the film hindered my views but the book really didn’t capture me the way the film did. The love story between Gatsby and daisy seemed so much more gooey, loving and heart wrenching in the film than the book. I hated the way Gatsby died in the book as a main character and him behind the main plot of the book I was disheartened and felt that it was a little rushed. Maybe the lack of words about his death was a metaphor about Gatsby’s fast paced lifestyle. Although the book didn’t capture me like I had wished, I will read it again in time as I love the story line so much.

  • I really enjoyed reading this book! I didn’t read it before, but I did watch the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and was curious to read the original story.

    1. So, it was the first time I read the novel. At the beginning I had some difficulties with the story, too. It seemed a little dry, but as soon as the story started to evolve (maybe after 1/3 of the book) I flew through the pages and couldn’t really put it down.
    I like your idea of listening to the audio version, that must be really interesting too.

    2. I liked Nick as the narrator. I think he tried to be quite objective, but isn’t really only an observer but actively participates in the story. But it’s so nice to learn about someones feelings and thoughts – all the other characters are only described by the behavior or actions, and you don’t like them very much – but maybe that’s because you don’t really know anything about them … They are more like actors and always seem to be quite distant. With Nick you really start to understand him and feel how important it was for him, that he actual told Gatsby something nice (the “you’re better than all of them” – part).

    3. I like Jaelan’s thoughts on the topic … It such a sad scene, Gatsby’s funeral. It also pants a strong picture of the society, doesn’t it? Everybody went to his house to enjoy themselves – but it was more about the party than about the host. This ending also shows how lonely Gatsby must have been …

    4. In the end, I really liked the story, the mood it transports and the picture it paints of the 1920s. I like how Fitzgerald describes the best and the worst of the characters and how he criticizes them and the society, while also asking for some understanding as well. I think the movie is nice in regards to costumes and style, but I think it does not transport the message as impressively as the book . It’s much more about the money and the parties and I think it does not show how superficial all these things are … So I was glad to have read the book and to maybe better understand, why this is such an important novel 🙂

  • I need to re-read this and a few other classics I enjoyed in high school. Thanks for the reminder!

  • This is one of my favorite authors ever.

    Valentina
    http://valentinaduracinsky.blogspot.com/

  • I have always thought that Gatsby’s death and the fact that no one attended his funeral, despite EVERYONE always taking advantage of his parties, was a commentary on how selfish our society was and still is. We want to take and take from people when the getting’s good, but can be quick to walk away when the fun is over. It reminds me a lot of how U.S. celebrities are viewed. As long as they are on top and beautiful, everyone wants a piece of them; the second they age, gain weight, or fall on bad times, it’s over.

    Although, if Gatsby was in the age of social media, I think his funeral would have been packed with Instagrams and tweets of bad selfies and, instead of his funeral being sad because no one showed, it would be packed with bad hashtags.

  • This is one of my favorite books. I read it the first time in high school, and have read it every few years since– most recently right before the movie came out. I love how poetically it’s written. The first 2 pages are pure magic.

    I know a lot of high school students have trouble getting in to it, but I never did. I loved it the first time I read it. The actual story is nothing compared to all the symbolism. A pretty interesting time in our history.

  • ‘Gatsby’ is my all-time favourite book! I love the jazz age setting and the tragic overblown plot. But most of all I love Fitzgerald’s breathtakingly beautiful use of language. The final few paragraphs leave me reeling every time I read them.

    I also find it interesting and a bit surprising that many of the comments here refer to Nick’s ‘unbiased’ view. When I first studied the book at school, we discussed at length Nick’s role as a typical example of the ‘unreliable narrator’. Nick is the one who idolises Gatsby, who is maybe a little bit in love with him. He is the one who tries to persuade the reader that Gatsby, despite his flaws, is great. Fitzgerald uses Nick in order to avoid the all-knowing godlike 3rd person voice. This is parallelled in the image of the myopic pair of eyes that watch out over the valley of ashes: another god – with faulty vision.

  • I disagree with one thing about Nick being the narrator. While he serves as the catalyst that brings Gatsby and Daisy together, I think he’s anything but unbiased. Throughout the story, he is enamored with Jay Gatsby and the mystery of him. I mean, what kind of cousin sets his married cousin up with a complete stranger with a reputation for throwing all night ragers. I think Fitzgerald uses Nick to make us sympathize with Gatsby because Nick sympathizes with Gatsby. Because of Nick’s point of view, we see Gatsby as a noble, love-stricken, pursuer of Daisy’s affections as well as seeing Tom as the villain. Had Nick seen Gatsby as a desperate, pathetic and delusional man, we the reader would see the story completely differently. Fitzgerald uses Nick to give Gatsby his tragic image.

  • I loved the new movie because of it’s “Young and Beautiful” by various artists played throughout plus the amazing scenery and setting. However, I found that the movie drags especially if you already know what happens. It’s just a 3 hour long movie with the same ending as before. With that said, “The Great Gatsby” is my favorite piece of literature I’ve come across yet.

  • I will always think two things about this novel: I never liked it, not when I was in sophmore year of high school or when I was in junior year of college. I feel like it’s super overrated and people worship this novel in a way I don’t understand. The second thing is: I wrote a paper on the sexuality and TGG and now I will always think of Nick and Jordan Baker as gay. Whelp.

  • 1. Never read it until now. Loved the movie. The director is an odd one, but still always worth a watch.

    2. Nick’s narration is definitely interesting. At times it seemed pretty bland and others, so heartfelt. So honest. He’s like the nervous, unsure part of ourselves that only wants the best but knows the world is not a wish granting factory (TFIOS ref lol). In a way, he’s so insignificant but at the same time he puts the whole story together. He was the median, even like a filter for the other characters. He definitely a symbol too. He represents the idea they cannot, will never be able to change everything no matter how much we wish too. We must face reality at some point.

    3. The ease of Gatsby’s death is a (sad) reality that no matter what we do or wish to do, eventually it will be unimportant. No matter how on top of the world we feel it can end at any moment. We aren’t invincible. It’s interesting because Nick sees him for much more than he is. He romanticized a man that is basically invisible. No one knew who he real us, alive or dead.

    4. Uh, I don’t like or dislike it. I appreciate the ideas presented in it though. It’s sad, but real. Things happen. Life can be sad, and sometimes stay sad.

  • I love your statement that it is like reality tv. It’s so true! This is one of my all-time favorite books and I couldn’t really tell you why. It’s that same intrigue as to why I will forever watch The Real Housewives of Orange County even though I don’t really want to. I guess Fitzgerald was really ahead of his time in that way.

    Also, I just love the obsession with style. From the style of the characters to the way the book itself is written. It’s almost more of a design than a story, which I think might be what pulls me in so much.

  • I’m obsessed with Gatsby-which I reread a year ago. Partially because it brings me back to North Shore Long Island and all the rumored Gatsby settings and partly because I was going through a difficult time and the book spoke to me. I even have a pinterest board called Gatsby obsession

  • This is a favorite author of mine. How could you not love Gatsby’s character? He has a hopelessness and innocence about him. I feel like he was never finished over compensating for his underprivileged child hood. He felt desperate to become the image in his head of what his life should be and the idea of Daisy was part of that image. He just wanted so badly to live up to his own standards but he was too naive to be realistic. I also Completely agree with Welcome Home Taylor’s, view on Gatsby’s death being necessary. Gatsby’s whole life is just so tragic because he’s despreate to believe his dream will come true and as readers we know it never will. It makes me want to be Nick so I can protect him. At the same time I think Nick handles his friendships very delicately and kindly. I truly like Nick and Gatsby. The other characters not so much. I think Daisy is a horrible person. My favorite Fitzgerald work is Flappers and Philosophers. Defiantly worth reading as well as The Beautiful and the Damned.

  • I didn’t reread it this time, but have read it many times in the past and would definitely call it my favorite. I have to agree with Alicia that maybe the best thing about this book is the mood it creates. As you said, Elise, none of the characters are people you can really love. They all have some pretty serious issues and knowing them, as the reader, keeps you sort of detached. And yet, it’s an indisputable American classic! For me, it feels irresistible simply because of the mood and time period Fitzgerald has captured. Also, I find his writing style to be so beautiful!

  • This is one of my favorite books of all time. I really love Nick as the narrator. I think a huge part of understanding the allure of Gatsby (as well as his image) is seeing him from an outsider’s perspective. It would be a completely different story if Gatsby were the narrator. Additionally, I think we get a much more rounded (albeit still unreliable) perspective.

  • 1. I struggled with the beginning, but only because I didn’t understand the characters or the themes; as the book progressed I began to understand what Fitzgerald was trying to communicate, and I totally fell in love with the book. Gatsby’s last moments right before he is killed really spoke to me. It is in that moment when he realizes that Daisy is gone from his life, that he’s been living in a dream, aspiring for an ideal life that he can no longer obtain, wishing to become who he used to be before the war, wishing for his old life and what his life could have been. Gatsby’s eyes are opened, which coincides with a lot of symbolism (the eyes) in the book as well. I’ve been struggling with a difficult situation concerning a recent international move I just made, and I kind of felt the same as Gatsby- suddenly aware of my own life and how I simply cannot live an ideal, perfect life.

    2. I actually disagree with you– I think Nick does drive the plot, at least in a very subtle way. Fitzgerald characterization of Nick is really important. Nick is from the West, so has western, agrarian morals and values and is a sharp contrast from the consumerist, materialist, vapid Eastern characters of NYC. Fitzgerald uses this contrast and Nick’s character and background to criticize consumerism, materialism, and decaying morals and values of the East and America. But you’re right-Nick does know everything. He’s the only person not blind to the lies and frauds and fake lives of all of the characters–Daisy, Tom, Gatsby, and all the rest of the New Yorkers. He’s a fresh pair of untarnished, clean, pure eyes. This is pretty symbolic, as “eyes” are a significant symbol, and it’s thematic as well. Imagine if the story was told through Daisy’s eyes. It would lack the purity and innocence and criticism of the East and Eastern lives that Nick shows.

    3. Gatsby’s death was also extremely symbolic and thematic. First of all, it’s sad. Gatsby doesn’t get what he wants, which is a perfect, rich, happy life with Daisy. He doesn’t fulfill his dream. Gatsby is Fitzgerald’s personification and representation of the American Dream, so through Gatsby’s death Fitzgerald criticizes the American Dream, saying that if the American Dream is built on insubstantial things like money, wealth, social status, ignorance, and fame, then a) you will never be happy, and b) the dream will never be fulfilled (That was all phrased really awkwardly, sorry!). Fitzgerald shows the outcome of an American Dream when it’s built on these insubstantial and vapid things. It’s pretty shocking. I really wanted Gatsby to live his ideal life with Daisy.

    4. Yeah, I didn’t like any of the characters either, especially Daisy. I didn’t even like Nick by the end, who seems the least material obsessed and vapid to me. I like your comparison of the plot to a reality TV show! What I appreciate most is how Fitzgerald was able to criticize America and American society at such an in depth level through a story (that is really poetic and beautifully written as well!). This book is definitely a favorite.

  • I was frustrated that we don’t get to meet Gatsby until half-way through the book, and the first half is so difficult to get through. Lots of needless wordy details. Wordy for the sake of wordy sometimes. At the same time, other parts are beautifully written. This was my second attempt at reading this book. The first time I didn’t get through the first chapter. The second time was after I had seen the movie, so I had a visual reference. I am such a visual person that this helped me get through the book the second time around.

    This is a good story, but I think I just don’t care for the author’s style. I think I liked the movie better.

  • I think this is why I don’t feel sad at first when Gatsby dies. His literal death puts an end to a life that seems to be chasing all the wrong things: fake money, fake friends, fake love. But then in his death Gatsby is the most real and most honest he’ll ever be, not because he changed in the end or realized he was bad person, but just because death is something so human. When I realize that I start to see him as a real person and then begin to feel sad for him.

  • When I first read this book in 9th grade, I didn’t understand how it could be a “classic.” It just seemed like a bunch of spoiled rich people gallivanting around Long Island. But I recently re-read the book and I found it to be an incredibly deep social statement ripe with complicated characters. And beautifully sad, so sad! At the end I felt much more for Gatsby than my 9th grade self felt. He had spent an entire lifetime trying to gain the love of Daisy (or the idea of Daisy), he even gave his life for her and yet, his love was mostly unrequited. I am forever idealistic and a dreamer and I feel that I could relate to Gatsby in that way.

  • I love the ending! Fitzgerald makes such a strong comment about the human character, relationships, and the differences in social status. He knew that Daisy would never end up with Gatsby because they will never be on the same playing field. Gatsby had dirty, new money which is completely different than Daisy’s inherited money. Gatsby had to die for one good reason: his dreams would never come true. He spent his entire life in a dream, stuck in same mindset that started when he kissed Daisy for the first time. When his dreams didn’t come true, he needed to die. It’s Fitzgerald’s literal ending of Gatsby’s life because his life — which was his dream of Daisy — died.

  • I typed this while on the bus. Grammar and spelling errors may have occured. Sorry for the essay, this is my all time most favorite book ever! 🙂

    1. I have read this book, about once a year, since I first read it as required reading in High School. When I was substitute teaching, I used to bring my well worn copy that I used in high school as my teacher’s copy because it was just so full of notes and thoughts that I had when I would pick the book up from time to time. Also, I was such a nerd in high school. At the first party Nick went to at Gatsby’s, I highlighted the word “Oboe” in flourescent orange with green arrows around it (guess what instrument I played in high school?). I honestly never struggled with this book in high school, or the billion other times I’ve read this book. This is by far my most favorite book because of how honest F. Scott Fitzgerald was about the world in which he lived in. I liked how it showed the callousness of the upper crust and the little regard they had for those who were beneath him. Nick was caught in a limbo between the upper crust world through Daisy, but the lower class working struggle to get where he needed to be like Gatsby (in a sense). My fiance laughs when I pull out The Great Gatsby from time to time, he always asks me “Feeling a bit upset and the US class troubles again hon?” Knowing that’s what gets me always with Tom and Daisy.
    2. Nick as a bystander narrarator was an ingenous way to move the story along. Nick was an “innocent” of sorts, he knew Daisy as family, but he didn’t grow up as lavishly as Daisy had, and that brought him a real world sense of morality. He was almost a judge like the Eyes above Wilson’s shop yet he wouldn’t judge because of what his father said. When you hear that phrase Nick’s father gave, you automatically assume that is because you may be well off monetarily than others, but in the sense of Gatsby, he’s reffering to familial lifestyles. Nick grew up with a sense of morality, questioned time and again he was with Gatsby, Tom and Daisy. He KNEW Tom was having an affair, he knew Daisy knew, but he wouldn’t tell Tom to stop, even when Tom invited Nick out to meet his other woman. Nick could have easily told Daisy who the mistress was, but he didn’t, just like Jordan could have told Daisy, but she wouldn’t. Nick could have told Gatsby that he wouldn’t be involved in bringing up an old affair with his married cousin, but he did. Towards the end, to me, it felt like Nick was regretting these decisions that led up to Gatsby’s demise, that he was solely responsible if he hadn’t spoken up (I am a romantic).
    3. The way Fitzgerald wrote Gatsby’s demise was somewhat iconic. Gatsby from the beginning was a man Daisy was told to forget about. He may have been that dashing young military officer when Daisy met him, but he was to be forgotten because he had no money. When he finally came into the money he did have, and threw these parties where EVERYONE knew him, or knew of him, or knew of his parties, he was a forgotten character even then. People were there for the party, not the host. It was as if he was prepared to be forgotten again if Daisy wasn’t willing to continue her life with him, so if she denied him, he could leave, forgotten again. So when Gatsby’s demise came, he left the book the way he entered Daisy’s life, a person who you will have to forget, because he was, like from the very beginning a boy without money. It also shows how Fitzgerald felt about himself, if you do research on the torrid relationship of Scott and Zelda, you could see parallels he made between Gatsby and Daisy and Scott and Zelda.
    4. In all honesty, this was a book where you left feeling sorry for two people, Wilson and Gatsby. Wilson because he was really the only innocent person in this story who had nothing to do with the love quadrangle that was happening. He had a clue that his wife was not being faithful, but he didn’t have much proof, so he tried the one thing he knew, to keep her locked away and move. He was just a dumb guy with a wife who wanted more. And in avenging his faithless wife’s death just showed how much he really did love her, depsite all the mistakes he made. Gatsby is another character I felt sorry for. Yes, he lied to make himself grand, he lied to bring people to his house so he could steal back the woman he pined for all these years. Yes, he did make his living by probably doing some illegal transactions with shady characters, but he did this to help him be the man he thought Daisy would have wanted and in the end, the little twit went back to a man who will still be unfaithful to this day because she knew she was comfortable in her life with Tom. Causing a new scandal would break her socially, and she knew it. I felt sorry for Gatsby, because even when Daisy did hit Myrtle with her car, he was willing to say he did it, as his final arrow in his love for Daisy, and in the end, it’s that love that got him killed.

    Lastly, I agree with your sentiment about how it read like a reality TV show. When I long-termed subbed an English Class, the kids were lamenting how boring the Great Gatsby was, and how they wanted to do something else. So I told them that I’ll tell them a story with Teen Celebrities.

    Selena Gomez and Joe Jonas are dating and living in a new house in a ritzy, exclusive loft in Downtown New York. Selena’s friend and Joe’s brother Nick Jonas comes to the same loft but gets an apartment that was leased by the owner of a larger penthouse on the other side of the building. This mystery guy in the building was throwing parties every weekend, but Selena and Joe never really attended these parties because they were too cool for it. Except, Selena’s friend Demi Lavato attended these parties, and Nick went along with her. There, they met this crazy awesome guy named Justin Beiber who said that he and Selena were long lost friends and he wanted to meet and catch up with her one day. Well, little know to all involved except for Selena and Demi, Joe was cheating on Selena with a Lindsay Lohan. He would go and meet her down the street at Lindsay’s girlfriend’s Sam Ronson’s studio where Joe gets his back track music from. They, had a separate apartment across the street, Selena knew Joe was being unfaithful, but she didn’t want to confront him. Nick went along with Joe one day to party at Sam’s with Lindsay while Sam was djing at a local night club. Well, Nick and Demi ended up throwing a party at Nick’s little apartment with Justin, and Justin and Selena rekindled their relationship under Joe’s nose. Well, Joe found out, confronted Justin, Nick, Selena, and Demi at a hotel room where they were going to have a party, and everyone left in two separate cars. Joe, Nick and Demi in one, and Selena and Justin in another. Sam had found out that Lindsay was with Joe this whole time, that she said they were going to move to LA and avoid this whole situation. Lindsay, seeing Joe’s car on the street, tried to stop him to take her with him, but ended up being hit by the car and killed instantly, because Selena was driving it. Sam with a murderous rage when to find the owner of the car, who it just happened to belong to Justin, and shot him while he was parked by the pool. Joe and Daisy leave town, Nick is left to pick up the pieces, and Demi goes on to have a nice solo career despite the fact that Nick dumped her.

    The teenagers responded well to that story, and they were upset I used real people to explain the plot point of the Great Gatsby.

  • I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read, discussed, and written about The Great Gatsby. It is hands-down, my favorite book. No matter how many times I read it, I always struggle with the first chapter, after that though, Fitzgerald’s writing really comes to life. I’ve yet to read such beautifully written prose.

    One of my favorite Gatsby topics is Nick. I’ve gone back and forth between loving him and hating him. In the end though, I think it’s because I’ve been Nick before. He is a bystander and tries to feign innocence because he was not the one directly causing damage. However, I’ve realized over the years that he is just as guilty as every other character in the book. He stands by and silently watches the horrendous effects of their horrible behavior come to be. Is he as guilty as the other characters? Probably not. But he did offer his home to Gatsby and Daisy when they first came together; he watched them continue a relationship and let this happen. I won’t continue to ramble on about him (and trust me, I can cause I’ve written several long papers regarding Nick), but I just love discussing this character so much!

    xoxo
    Taylor

  • such a great point. Nick makes Gatsby real.

    And it was nice to read it this time around and not have to prepare for the symbolism discussion in 8am English class…

    elise

  • I love the great Gatsby. Personally I love that Nick is the narrator because it allows the reader to see that Gatsby isn’t some perfect stoic bootlegger but rather a very weak man always seeking approval from others, and also very naive.

  • My work is doing a great gatsby themed holiday party this year #stoked

    www.lovealwaysjess.com

  • I HATED the ending. Suddenly everyone’s dying and it was really depressing. It was also confusing when Gatsby died because they didn’t flat out say it until Nick was on the phone.

    I liked the rest of the book, though. I can’t wait to see the movie!

  • 1. I did read this in high school. If I was asked back then to rate it for Goodreads, I would have rated it a one star. It just wasn’t fun trying to uncover every piece of symbolism. The story got lost in that activity. This time around I would (and did) rate the story at 3 stars.

    2. I think Nick is the narrator to make Gatsby more “personable” and real. Gatsby is very aloof. His interaction with Nick engages the reader to want to learn more about Gatsby and his story.

    Nick doesn’t stay completely uninvolved. He does befriend his neighbor and obviously respects Gatsby. Even if he doesn’t agree with Gatsby’s dishonest business dealing. Nick goes through the process of planning a funeral and letting Gatsby’s “friends” know about it.

  • I read this in college because the guy I liked (haha) LOVED this book and I struggled to get through it so much. I read books pretty fast and this tiny little book took me a LONG time to go through, and I already had ample motivation. Haha. I don’t know why, but I picked it up again a few years later and completely fell in love with it.

  • You took the words right out of my mouth, especially the symbolism in Gatsby’s death. 🙂 I read this in HS and again a few months ago… Funny how your perspective changes so much in a 12 year period.

  • I read this book 2 years ago and it took me nearly a year to read! Like you, I found it quite difficult to get into (I read many other books in between), and for me, I found it almost a bit of a ‘chore’. Then suddenly my opinion changed half way through. It really began to pick up the pace and I began to find the character of Jay Gatsby quite endearing. By the end of the book, I couldn’t quite believe that it had taken me so long to finish it – particularly as I read the last half very quickly. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on it, it’s a tragic story of doomed romance, but it’s so beautifully written (the last half of it anyway!)that’s impossible not to like it .

  • I think I’d want to see it for the costumes alone! and I imagine Leo would be great as Gatsby.

  • You make such wonderful points. Especially number 3 about Gatsby being a ghost. So very true.

    elise

  • I read the complete works of Fitzgerald earlier in the year. His short stories in Tales from the Jazz Age and Flappers and Philosophers are awesome! There’s a good mix of cynical, hilarious, and just plain weird stories. I’m a high school English teacher, and I’m hoping to use some of them with my students in the future.

  • I read this in high school and though it was an assignment I actually really enjoyed it! I think the story is awesome and the mysteriousness of Gatsby keeps you interested the whole time. The movie with Leonardo DiCaprio is equally great and the costume/wardrobe in that movie is beautiful. Especially Daisy’s!

    fashionbeautyloveblog.blogspot.com

  • It is SO HARD to find time to read for fun in college! I haven’t see the movie yet! I want to – just to see how they do it.

    elise

  • 1. I’ve read this book a few times (the last being about a year ago). I am pretty much enamored with the 20s, so I was immediately engrossed in the book.

    2. To me, there’s a bit of symbolism in having Nick as the narrator. His entire purpose is to execute a reunion between the Daisy and Gatsby, but he’s a third party, unbiased character. Through that reunion we see so much turmoil. I think Nick was an interesting but awesome choice as narrator because of this. It gives the book somewhat of an unbiased spin, in my opinion.

    3. The first few times I read the book, I was saddened by the fact no one cared about Gatsby’s death. It puzzled me. As I’ve gotten older, I see the symbolism in this part of the book. Gatsby was a fake. A phony. In a lot of ways he was a ghost to society. That was pretty evident in how it all ended for him. He never wanted to be seen at his parties, so no one ever really put a face to the name. In a way, he wanted an ending like this. If he wanted to be missed, he would have put himself in a position to live like he wanted to be missed.

    4. At the end of the story, I always feel sad. This book (although ridiculously enthralling to me) didn’t show humanity at our best. It’s full of flawed characters and huge life mistakes. The passage you quoted sums up the book perfectly to me. I think F. Scott wanted the readers to understand that people do a lot of messed up things. I think he wanted to show common mistakes in life in a flamboyant way (the crazy lifestyle of these individuals). In all honesty, infidelity, lost loves, and lies are all around us–they’re just not shown as “in your face” as they were in his book. Personally, I loved all of the characters, but if they were real people, I would never hope to become friends with them.

  • such cute photos! oh my! thanks for sharing.

    I think I remember reading Tender is the Night after Gatsby too.

    elise

  • I’m a college freshman, so many of my friends have read The Great Gatsby in at least the last four years, but I am not one of those people (it wasn’t in my curriculum). I’ve always wanted to read it on my own, because out of all the books assigned in a student’s high school curriculum, this seems to be one of the top favorites, along with To Kill a Mockingbird. I did, however, watch the film version with Leo DiCap and did not like it very much, because there seemed to be very many idiosyncratic moments. I’m sure I’d enjoy the book so much more! Oh gosh, I haven’t done very much independent reading since classes started… -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  • I read this a long time ago for my English A’Level set texts. I had brilliant English teachers who picked novels they were passionate about and it became one of my favourite books. Glad you enjoyed it too.

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