That's just my perspective, anyway.
I'm not sure how this happened, but I somehow escaped having to read it during my high school years, and have since gone through my undergrad classes not exactly pretending to have read it, but not saying anything to the contrary either. It's not that I wasn't ever going to read it. I just hadn't gotten around to it yet. But I totally had a copy of it on my shelf of Serious Books. And then my American Lit survey assigned it, and it was just convenient.
I think I devoured it more than actually reading it over Spring Break, and I came to class all bright-eyed and eager to talk about how cool it is and how much I liked it and then...the class discussion killed my excitement. Popped it like a balloon. Just, gone.
So, since this is my happy corner of the internet where I can talk about pretty much whatever I want, here's what I was going to say about The Great Gatsby, before that class period:
Ten Things I Like About The Great Gatsby
1. Nick Carraway. He's a narrator I can relate to and I like the way he strings together his thoughts and sentences. He comes to New York to figure out his life because he can't find what he's looking for in the Midwest. He may be confused about his life, but he's also way more grounded and realistic than Gatsby or Daisy.
2. "I'm the most honest man I know." Nick Carraway says this early on in the book, and he also talks a lot about how he values honesty--he can't stand it when Jordan lies. But the context of the statement and the meaning makes you also wonder at Nick's character and why he stated that. I love that there is that added depth to his character.
3. The most awesome metaphor of the Valley of Ashes and the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. Enough said.
4. Jay Gatsby. Despite how conflicted and misled he may be, there's just something about the guy. I mean, I could do without him calling Nick "old sport" all the time (really? "Old sport?" It's SUPER ANNOYING), but I just feel bad for him. He's so quiet and all he does is in the hope that he can meet Daisy, the woman that he thinks is the love of his life. I mean, it may be a little naive of him, but there's an almost innocent quality about him that makes you want things to work out for him. Too bad he's so far gone and Daisy isn't good enough for him.
5. Tom and Daisy Buchanan's stupidity. Okay, I know that this is probably not something you're supposed to like about a novel, but their marriage is like a train wreck. I can't look away. Tom cheats, Daisy is reckless, and even though they seem wildly unhappy, they deserve each other. They are careless with others and they represent the worst of the filthy rich. They're good characters to hate.
6. The way that Fitzgerald portrays women. This may sound odd, because there aren't exactly many "good" female characters in The Great Gatsby, but Fitzgerald was probably the first American male writer to not make females fade into the background. He portrayed them as human beings who have affairs, make mistakes, and actually play roles in how the novel unfolds. They have power. Even if they all make bad decisions and I'd like to slap them all.
7. The pacing. It's less than two hundred pages, and I flew through it. The way that Fitzgerald sets it up to take place over the course of a summer is very symbolic, and the action unfolds nicely.
8. The issues of entitlement and wealth. I like how Fitzgerald emphasized that wealth can make anyone feel entitled and above morals and laws. It's not just Tom who cheats or breaks laws. Even Gatsby--mild mannered, naive, likable Gatsby--bootlegs so he can be rich enough to get Daisy's attention, and then he takes the fall for Daisy when she kills Myrtle. And they all think that they can just get away with it. There is this lawlessness that stalks these rich characters, and Nick doesn't like it.
9. The reason why this story is so relevant--it's all about finding purpose. Nick comes to New York to get a job and be useful, to find his purpose. But, he doesn't find it. He thinks that befriending Gatsby and helping him get to Daisy will help him achieve this, or at least help Gatsby achieve his purpose. He has nothing to do but watch as the train wreck of events unfolds and try to pick up the pieces. Maybe his role in it isn't to try and save everyone--which he completely fails at--but to observe it, learn from it. At the end, he decides to go back West. And who would blame him?
10. This book is so quotable!
"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.'"And...
"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther..."And...
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
And there are a TON more. What about you guys--any favorite Gatsby quotes? If you've read it, what did you think? If you haven't read it, I recommend it!