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Chapter 6 Great Gatsby Quotes
Terms in this set (107)
This was his day off and with laudable initiative he had hurried out "to see."
This "ambitious young reporter" went to Gatsby's house on his day off to get "any statement" Gatsby is willing to give.
The reporter's ambition evokes the theme of the American Dream in that his own initiative is what's driving him to come to Gatsby's house on his day off. He wants to get more information about the elusive Gatsby.
Gatsby's notoriety, spread about by the hundreds who had accepted his hospitality and so become authorities on his past, had increased all summer until he fell just short of being news.
Gatsby's notoriety stems from his mystery. This reporter has used his off day to investigate the mystery that is Gatsby.
Nick is being facetious when he says that they had "become authorities on his past." None of them actually know anything about Gatsby's past, though they act as if they did. For example, at the first party Nick attends in Chapter 3, he has the following conversation:
The two girls and Jordan leaned together confidentially. 'Somebody told me they thought he killed a man once.' A thrill passed over all of us. The three Mr. Mumbles
Bent forward and listened eagerly.
'I don't think it's so much THAT,' argued Lucille skepti-
cally; 'it's more that he was a German spy during the war.' One of the men nodded in confirmation.
'I heard that from a man who knew all about him, grew
up with him in Germany,' he assured us positively.
'Oh, no,' said the first girl, 'it couldn't be that, because he was in the American army during the war.'
As readers learn in the following passage, none of them really had a clue about Gatsby's past.
Contemporary legends such as the "underground pipe-line to Canada" attached themselves to him,
a reference to the Prohibition of the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the United States. Many produced a number of fanciful notions about how alcohol managed to enter the country under these restrictions.
"Gatsby Annotations." An Index to The Great Gatsby. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
One of these was that there was an underground road from Canada to the United States that could to be used to transport alcohol to Americans.
Note this legend's criminal nature— due to Gatsby's "new-wealth" status, people are skeptical of how he came to all of this money.
and there was one persistent story that he didn't live in a house at all, but in a boat that looked like a house and was moved secretly up and down the Long Island shore.
As this rumor displays, the tales about Gatsby got absurd. Tabloid journalism at the time could be very sensationalistic, and this may have contributed to the rumors.
Just why these inventions were a source of satisfaction to James Gatz of North Dakota, isn't easy to say.
Nick here refers to Jay Gatsby by his legal name, "James Gatz," for the first time in the novel.
As Nick states, the explanation of Gatsby's satisfaction is nuanced, though readers can guess at the reason.
Gatsby may have enjoyed the fact that people were talking about him and spreading rumors because it elevated his status.
James Gatz — that was really, or at least legally, his name.
Making a Name
Not until Chapter VI, more than halfway through the novel, do we hear of Gatsby's legal name. Indeed, before this point, we don't even know that "Gatsby" isn't his real name. Clearly, Gatsby makes no sincere attempts to reveal his family name, instead hiding it from society; his former, legal title appears as invisible as his servants.
Gatsby doesn't want his name to be associated with anonymity, but instead to be as well-known as the names of famous, elite, aristocratic families. As a result, he not only literally changes his obscure family name, making himself a new one, but figuratively attempts to "make himself a name" as well.
Coincidentally, the name "Gatsby" can mean "God," relating to his desire for glory, as well as his wish to shape reality.
Realistically, the name may be a reference to the Gatling gun.
He had changed it at the age of seventeen and at the specific moment that witnessed the beginning of his career — when he saw Dan Cody's yacht drop anchor over the most insidious flat on Lake Superior.
As Nick mentioned earlier, James Gatz was from North Dakota.
This moment is a turning point for Gatz. He changes his name and undergoes a rebirth into the character who readers have gotten to know up until this point in the novel, Jay Gatsby.
but it was already Jay Gatsby who borrowed a rowboat, pulled out to the Tuolomee, and informed Cody that a wind might catch him and break him up in half an hour.
Even before James Gatz introduced himself to Dan Cody, his dream of being Jay Gatsby was already in place. It appears Gatsby's motives weren't altruistic, but self-interested. Gatsby saw the opportunity to help Dan Cody, perhaps hoping that Cody would help him reinvent himself.
The name of Dan Cody's yacht, Tuolomee, appears to be an invented word, intended to conjure visions of an exotic American West. One possible origin is that it is a corruption of Tuolumne, a Yokutsan word that lends its name to a California river and means something like "many stone houses."
I suppose he'd 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. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself.
Since Gatsby was young, he already had big plans in store for himself, which suggests he had been patiently waiting for an opportunity to come along. Through hard work and a fervent desire to become a heavily romanticized version of himself, he was eventually able to distance himself from the "unsuccessful farm people" that were his parents, as he had dreamed of for a long time now. To achieve his dream, he became the exact opposite: a successful, urban magnate.
The "Platonic conception of himself" refers to Platonic Idealism. The basic idea is that every object on Earth aspires to some ideal, perfect, abstract form of itself. In Gatsby's case, his ideal version of himself included massive amounts of wealth and high social status.
When Fitzgerald was creating Gatsby, he was studying the work of Joseph Conrad. This "Platonic conception of himself" brings to mind Conrad's 'The Secret Sharer', in which the captain wonders:
how far I should turn out faithful to that ideal conception of one's own personality every man sets up for himself secretly..."
He was a son of God — a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that — and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty.
With "he must be about His Father's business," Nick refers to Luke 2:49:
And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
This quote illustrates how Jesus knew he was the son of God and destined for great things from a young age. The same quote is used to characterize Gatsby and his similar ambitions. Gatsby believed wholeheartedly that he was destined for great things, even as a teenager.
The concept of God is distorted in this novel, as evidenced by Dr. T.J. Eckleburg assuming the role of God. Gatsby has no problem making the blasphemous statement that he is the son of God, because in his eyes all that means is that he is going to be rich and powerful. Religion and consumerism often blend in this story, so it is doubtful Gatsby would be heavily criticized for this statement (though this is Nick's narrative, so it isn't clear that Gatsby described himself like this in the first place). Fast-forward to 1966, when John Lennon claimed the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus".
So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.
As human beings, both our goals in life and the situations of the world around us generally fluctuate. However, some people have aspirations so strong that they hold onto them for their entire lives ("faithful to the end"). Early in his lifetime Gatz created the concept of what he wanted to be when he grew up, and refused to let go of this dream as long as he lived. Although he appears to be faithful to the person he truly was at heart, James successfully manipulated the exterior of his person, creating for himself everything from a new name to massive amounts of wealth. However, Fitzgerald hints that James's true self was still steadfastly intact, and that he was unable to alter his genuine personality/disposition
The persona of Jay Gatsby is, from Nick's perspective, the realization of an immature fantasy. Gatsby is "just the sort" of character "that a seventeen-year old boy would be likely to invent"; this suggests that there is something naïve or childish about the character that he creates for himself.
Nick's description of Gatsby as a man living out the fantasy of "a seventeen-year-old boy" carries a condescending tone and reveals something about his own judgmental nature.
For over a year he had been beating his way along the south shore of Lake Superior as a clam-digger and a salmon-fisher or in any other capacity that brought him food and bed.
Lake Superior is one of the Great Lakes in the U.S.
Clam digging is very dirty task and is still around today. There are multiple ways to harvest clams living in mud-flats. Some of these included a "clam hoe", spading fork, or tongs. This gritty occupation illustrates Gatsby's humble beginnings. The fact that Gatsby would do anything that "brought him food and bed" stands in stark contrast to his current lavish lifestyle. This detail speaks to just how far Gatsby has come in terms of wealth and status since he was a teenager.
Salmon fishing is still very popular on Lake Superior
His brown, hardening body lived naturally through the half-fierce, half-lazy work of the bracing days.
Although Fitzgerald doesn't directly point to the advantages of certain appearance in this sentence here, it is evident throughout that Gatsby's appearance and aura definitely improved his chances at success in America. Whether it was his breathtaking smile, the brown, hardened body, or his unfailing feeling of hope, Gatsby shows readers that appearance was important even in the 1920's. For Gatsby, Dan Cody suits him up as he accepts him into the entourage. Just before Gatsby could be seen wearing a torn green jersey and a pair of canvas pants.
The picture below represents a later version of Gatsby, showing how his appearance over time evolved. Fitzgerald along with Alger understood the important of appearance.
Author Horatio Alger explores this notion as well in his novel Ragged Dick where a suit coat is imperative to Dick's success.
He knew women early,
He lost his virginity early. To "know" women isn't meant to be interpreted in the literal sense, but rather in the biblical sense, meaning that Gatsby had sexual relations with women early.
and since they spoiled him he became contemptuous of them, of young virgins because they were ignorant,
Because Gatsby had women at his beck and call, he began to lose respect for them. He looked down on virgins because they were "ignorant" sexually due to their inexperience, but perhaps also because they were "young" and ignorant in an intellectual sense.
of the others because they were hysterical about things which in his overwhelming self-absorbtion he took for granted.
It's important to keep this self-absorption in mind in relation to Gatsby's lust for Daisy — whom he views in light of the status she confers.
But his heart was in a constant, turbulent riot.
Gatsby was restless, not content with his status economically or socially. His dreams and aspirations haunt him, but lend him the tenacity to conquer and rise above his humble beginnings. A blessing and a curse, Gatsby is never quite satisfied with his life, beleaguered by a constant sense of inferiority.
The most grotesque and fantastic conceits haunted him in his bed at night.
"Grotesque" and "fantastic" are both words used to describe the Valley of Ashes in Chapter 2:
This is a valley of ashes — a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.
The repetition here signifies Gatsby's current place of humble beginnings. The fact that they "haunt" him illustrates his hyper-awareness of his social position and desperation to escape.
However, his conceits, or dreams of self-improvement, are constantly on his mind, even so much as to make him lose sleep. He continues to get lost in his imagination with obsessive dreams of grandeur.
A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock ticked on the wash-stand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor. Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed down upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace.
The gaudy world in the young James Gatz's imagination is juxtaposed with the pristine, modest moonlight. The expression "spun itself out of his brain" conveys a sense of turbulence and riotousness. The "gaudiness" is actually described in detail in Chapter 3 at Gatsby's party as "spectroscopic gayety." However, the straight contrast here implies that the previous description of reality is incomparable to the vividness of Gatz's own imagination. He has an overwhelming desire to throw himself into the whirling, restless gayety and climb up the social ladder.
These lines portray young James lying on the yacht, thus they present a floating dreaminess and oblivion. In "until drowsiness closed down upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace", Janes' fantasy seems to be growing ferociously, weaving a cozy cocoon around him and blocking him from the austerity of reality. "..and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor" also calls back to Daisy and the scene when she cried over his shirts in Chapter 5, as if all of these moments are suspended in time together.
For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination;
He was able to create a Utopian and fantastical world in his mind to escape from reality. Creating this imaginations let him forget how impossible his dreams were and pretend that he could rewind time. However, this escape is only temporary because eventually he will have to come to face reality.
unreality of reality,
James Gatz was already living the life of Jay Gatsby in his head. At night he would lie in his bed, imagining himself to be someone else. His reality is different from the reality everyone else is living.
ACCEPTED COMMENT: In a sense, Gatsby is pretending to be someone he is not. He came from poverty in North Dakota, and so doesn't fit into the "old wealth" social scene in New York.
But this phrase also implies that reality is mutable— it isn't real in that it can be changed as Gatsby reinvented his life.
a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy's wing.
"The rock of the world" symbolizes burdens and harsh reality. "A fairy's wing" represents James' fantasy, the convenient escape from harsh realities. The fantasy is so powerful that his young light heart feels that the world as airborne. This "promise" is the very idea of the American Dream— the possibility of change for the better.
An instinct toward his future glory had led him, some months before, to the small Lutheran college of St. Olaf in southern Minnesota. He stayed there two weeks, dismayed at its ferocious indifference to the drums of his destiny, to destiny itself, and despising the janitor's work with which he was to pay his way through.
The Drums of Destiny
Seeking "future glory" (though never quite mentioning a physical notion of what that glory will be, instead holding it as a lofty and unattainable ideal), Gatsby finds himself in the cold, frozen abyss of "Minnesota," where "St. Olaf" (top) starkly contrasts Oxford (bottom), which he later claims to have attended:
I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford, because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition."
Gatsby, in the restless mindset of the period, leaves his "small" college, nameless and insignificant compared to the prestigious Oxford.
In fact, Gatsby doesn't merely resent his own anonymity. Rather, he directs his frustration "at" his college, absurdly blaming an inanimate object for not recognizing "the drums of his destiny." Once again, Gatsby is stuck in an invisible, unable-to-be-controlled existence, far from his dreams of "future glory," far from the beat of his own "drums." Nick emphasizes Gatsby's insignificance and lack of free will with repeated "d" alliteration, connoting a dull, dead existence. As a lower class janitor, Gatsby, like a servant, like an African American, is socially dead.
While Gatsby has dreams of his own great fortune, he does not want to work for them in the humble way. Because of his romantic readiness, Gatsby wants his life to be a fairy tale, in which this glory is thrust upon him. The idea of working his way through college to possibly earn a well paying job one day does not sound appealing to him, so he quits. However, the idea that he could be whisked away on a yacht or marry a "Princess Charming" to gain his wealth sounds like a perfectly romantic way for Gatsby to gain his fortune.
Cody was fifty years old then,
While this doesn't sound all that old in the 21st century, the life expectancy for American males in 1920 was 53.6 according to Berkeley.
Cody's name may evoke "Buffalo Bill" Cody, a man who started from a farm and rose to fame in the west as a soldier, bison hunter and showman.
a product of the Nevada silver fields, of the Yukon,
Gatsby must have grabbed onto him because Cody was actually from the west (Gatsby lied that he was from San Francisco earlier in the novel). Also, this serves as a juxtaposition because Gatsby was from the farming fields, while Cody was from the silver fields.
Silver was significant in Nevada, especially after the Comstock Lode discovery in 1859.
of every rush for metal since seventy-five.
In these metal rushes, workers would migrate quickly to an area rich in a certain metal seeking a profit. Gold rushes alone in America in the years following 1875 include the Bodie Gold Rush, Cayoosh Gold Rush, Criple Creek Gold Rush, Mount Baker Gold Rush, and Klondike Gold Rush (in Yukon).
an infinite number of women tried to separate him from his money.
Once again, Fitzgerald is presenting women negatively, as if they ruin the lives of men. This could be related to how he felt towards the impact of his wife's breakdown.
The none too savory ramifications by which Ella Kaye, the newspaper woman, played Madame de Maintenon to his weakness and sent him to sea in a yacht,
Fitzgerald makes a reference to Madame de Maintenon here in accordance to Ella Kaye. Maintenon was a secret second wife to King Louis XIV of France. She had three husbands and for a good portion of her life she lived off the money from her second husband. The King gave more money to Maintenon as he became uninterested in his wife and his secret other affair who happened to be friends with Maintenon. In this reference, Kaye is using Cody for his money and simply "sent him to sea" so she could bask in his wealth.
turgid sub-journalism of 1902.
Being a writer, Nick is a bit contemptuous of the yellow journalism of the time, which was sensational in an attempt to lure readers.
the yacht represented all the beauty and glamour in the world.
Yachts are symbols of wealth and power because of their high price and their aura of sumptuous classiness. For Gatsby, who aspires to be a millionaire yacht-owner himself one day, the boat embodies what he wants to achieve with his life, and it is a concrete and palpable goal that can lend him motivation.
I suppose he smiled at Cody — he had probably discovered that people liked him when he smiled.
Another reference to Gatsby's famous smile. Gatsby may try to win people over and manipulate them a little, but he doesn't do it by force. This is why he remains likeable even when he is kind of forcing people into helping him.
He smiled understandingly—much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.
found that he was quick and extravagantly ambitious.
Gatsby's personality and capacity for wonder got him the job with Cody, and in turn, sealed his future. To reach the American Dream, ambition is required, and charisma (displayed in Gatsby's smile) helps.
A few days later he took him to Duluth and bought him a blue coat, six pair of white duck trousers, and a yachting cap.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Duluth, Minnesota was filled with tycoons and money. As a rail and shipping terminus on the western tip of Lake Superior, iron ore and lumber from northern Minnesota flowed through Duluth. This made it the leading port in the United States, shipping more gross tonnage than New York or Chicago. It built tycoons from the industries of lumber, rail, and steel, and had the most millionaires per capita in the nation.
It would have been a natural place for Gatsby to acquire the material trappings of the elite.
These clothes complete James Gatz's transformation into Jay Gatsby. They illustrate the fact that sheer wealth isn't enough to convey the social status that Gatsby desired.
And these first clothes contrast with "his tangled clothes upon the floor." As noted in Chapter 5, clothes continue to be important to Gatsby. But now, as he explains,
I've got a man in England who buys me clothes. He sends over a selection of things at the beginning of each season, spring and fall.
Gatsby has come a long way since then.
Tuolomee is the name of the yacht Jay Gatsby joined Dan Cody and set sail with. Gatsby learned from Cody what the "wealthy lifestyle" was like. Cody was a drunk and after witnessing what alcohol can do to a person, Gatsby vowed never to drink. While aboard Tuolomee, Gatsby changed his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby as a symbol of his changing life. It was then he decided to no longer be the poor person he had grown up as and he was going to become a wealthy man from then on out.
The name "Tuolomee" might be an intentional play on the words "Too all o' me" in order to suggest self indulgence.
The name "Tuolomee" is a phonetic spelling of "Tuolomne", a county in California during the gold rush days. Tuolomne was famously wild and lawless during this era. Since Cody made his fortune in mining metals, and clearly embodies in his character the wild lawlessness of the old west, this name is appropriate.
He was employed in a vague personal capacity — while he remained with Cody he was in turn steward, mate, skipper, secretary, and even jailor, for Dan Cody sober knew what lavish doings Dan Cody drunk might soon be about, and he provided for such contingencies by reposing more and more trust in Gatsby.
Dan Cody placed his trust in young James Gatz, which took the form of giving him many jobs. And as Dan Cody kept drinking, he had to give more responsibility to Gatz in order for him to have time to himself.
It might have lasted indefinitely except for the fact that Ella Kaye came on board one night in Boston and a week later Dan Cody inhospitably died.
Cody is Gatsby's role model, and to an extent, Gatsby's life mirrors Cody's. Dan Cody is suspected to have been killed by a woman he sought to have a relationship with, and (spoiler alert) Gatsby is ultimately killed because he sought out a relationship with Daisy.
It was indirectly due to Cody that Gatsby drank so little. Sometimes in the course of gay parties women used to rub champagne into his hair; for himself he formed the habit of letting liquor alone.
Gatsby doesn't partake in drinking because he's seen the negativity and loss of control that's associated with it through Cody's actions. Alcohol lowers one's inhibition and causes them to act out in ways that are socially disgraceful or that might reflect their true inner feelings. The key to Gatsby's facade is his awareness of his surroundings and representing himself in the most correct manner. Gatsby refrains from drinking to remain focused on his goal of impressing daisy. When Gatsby is sober, he has some leverage over situations to further manipulate his plan of rekindling his love with Daisy.
Also by not drinking, Gatsby decidedly sets his actions apart from the actions of everyone else, thus elevating himself to a higher standard. He portrays his aristocracy at all times and does not get involved in reckless activities like drinking.
Another important note to make is that The Great Gatsby takes place during the 1920s prohibition, Tom accuses Gatsby of being a bootlegger and selling alcohol illegally. By not drinking, Gatsby might be trying to deflect away any negative rumors about how he makes his money and adopt a more conservative front. Although, most of his wealthier comrades fully indulge in drinking.
And it was from Cody that he inherited money — a legacy of twenty-five thousand dollars. He didn't get it. He never understood the legal device that was used against him, but what remained of the millions went intact to Ella Kaye. He was left with his singularly appropriate education; the vague contour of Jay Gatsby had filled out to the substantiality of a man.
Ella Kaye used illegal action to get the inheritance which Cody intended to give Gatsby — twenty-five thousand dollars. This betrayal leads Gatsby to believe that the money he wants will not be earned with kind-heartedness or honesty. And so Gatsby will earn his money by selling liquor.
He told me all this very much later, but I've put it down here with the idea of exploding those first wild rumors about his antecedents, which weren't even faintly true.
Nick's desire to relate Gatsby's actual biography stems from more than just a respect for accurate journalism. Nick displays here a sincere devotion to Gatsby's memory that seems to come from a deep affection for him.
when I had reached the point of believing everything and nothing about him.
This paradox itself shows the confusion that Nick faced from what Gatsby previously expressed to him: from stories, to odd signals and language that he used.
It was a halt, too, in my association with his affairs.
Presumably, during this time, Gatsby and Daisy are together.
As though they cared!
Here, Fitzgerald is speaking to the mindlessness of the upperclass. The "they" here is the riding party, the "old money" class that responds so haughtily to Gatsby's warmth and hospitality. Gatsby's eagerness to join them for dinner shows that he is actually sincere; his guests, however, are not.
Despite Gatsby's sacrifice in order to be just like them, he will never fully achieve this or any of his dreams. Although it seems he does achieve some, they are never fully sustainable, which contributes to the idea that the American Dream was solely a concoction made to give society hope, so that they didn't all knowingly dwindle into the valley of ashes in the upcoming "Great Depression".
Mr. Sloane wanted nothing. A lemonade? No, thanks. A little champagne? Nothing at all, thanks. . . . I'm sorry——
Gatsby tries to force his hospitality on his guests because he wants to impress Tom.
"I know your wife,"
"Know" can also mean to have had sex with. An example in literature would come from The Crucible, when Jon Proctor states in Act III,
I have known her [Abigail], sir. I have known her.
Although Gatsby is being aggressive, he probably doesn't mean it like this.
Gatsby's aggression combined with the coincidence of Nick living next door hints to Tom that Daisy and Gatsby may be in cahoots. Tom's skepticism is apparent when he repeats the same telegraphic phrase twice. One must realize that Tom likes the sound of his own voice. Therefore, he is pretending to be indifferent when, in reality, he is bothered by this.
Mr. Sloane didn't enter into the conversation, but lounged back haughtily in his chair;
Mr. Sloan is a man of East Egg, therefore he comes from "old money" or his wealth stretches so far back that he can not personally pinpoint where it started. The reason why Mr. Sloane is staying away from the whole ordeal with Gatsby is because he does not wish to associate himself with Gatsby. Despite both possessing great fortunes, Gatsby comes from "new money" or someone who only recently became fabulously wealthy. In fact, this situation occurs in real life as well, with those of old money having a distaste for new money folk simply because they view them as being socially inferior. Fitzgerald uses this scene to represent the real-life issue and to, perhaps, poke some holes in the belief that America has no aristocracy.
Although we are introduced to Mr. Sloane appropriately (by his official title and surname), we are never properly introduced to his female counterpart, and she is only referred to as "the woman". Fitzgerald may have done this to make a statement on gender roles and the objectification and male possession of females at the time.
Highball refers to any drink comprising liquor and a larger proportion of some mixer, usually in a tall glass.
"You come to supper with ME,"
The woman has had two highballs and is slightly drunk and now exhibits the old money way of hiding their cruelty, by calling it good manners. Gatsby mistakes it for genuine politeness, and this shows that he hasn't quite mastered the nuanced interactions of the "old money."
This included me. Mr. Sloane got to his feet.
It seems that whenever Gatsby or Tom have some sort of event happen Nick is always somehow involved in it. However, ironically Nick is always the least noticed person when around Gatsby or Tom.
Gatsby looked at me questioningly. He wanted to go, and he didn't see that Mr. Sloane had determined he shouldn't.
Gatsby thinks that he should go because he believes he's a part of that 'old money' cohort. But Sloane actually doesn't want him to come because they're not similar in value.
"I haven't got a horse," said Gatsby. "I used to ride in the army, but I've never bought a horse.
It is significant that Gatsby doesn't have a horse. The Old Money Sloanes are on horseback, and when Tom Buchanan is introduced, he is in riding clothes. Equestrian sports are symbolic of Old Money in the novel
I'll have to follow you in my car.
Because he is new money, and not old money, he is unaware of the old money's ways. First, he mistakes the obligatory invitation of the Sloane's as a sign of true care. Next, he admits that like the new money people, he doesn't have a car. This may be why some people doubt his back story. Although he claims to be of the old-money, he has new-money etiquette.
"My God, I believe the man's coming," said Tom. "Doesn't he know she doesn't want him?""She says she does want him."
This exchange shows Gatsby's inability to read the social cues of the old money class. He believes the woman's invitation is sincere and responds accordingly; Tom regards this response as ridiculous.
Geographically, the new money and old money are separate in that the nouveau riche lived in West Egg and the old money (including Tom, Mr. Sloane and the woman) lived in the East Egg. But this scene displays the fact that the differences between the two are greater than just geography. The old money people play a social game that Gatsby doesn't know how to play despite his wealth.
By God, I may be old-fashioned in my ideas, but women run around too much these days to suit me.
Here Tom associates Daisy with the new liberated women of the 1920s, often referred to as flappers.
Ironically, while Tom is uncomfortable with his own wife traveling and socializing independently, he doesn't seem to apply the same standards to his mistress, Myrtle, who is outside of his social circle. This is a prime example of Tom's hypocrisy; he puts on a front, like the rest of the wealthy characters, by making all the right noises about "family institutions", when in his private life he is completely against them.
Tom was evidently perturbed at Daisy's running around alone, for on the following Saturday night he came with her to Gatsby's party.
This demonstrates the double standard Tom has, and gives insight to the cultural roles of women in then '20s. Tom is able to flaunt his affair in front of all his friends, humiliating Daisy to the fullest. This humiliation even goes further as it forced her to abandon her life and move to the East Egg; however, Tom will not even allow her to go to the party alone, and acts as her chaperone for the night.
or at least the same sort of people,
The party-goers were "bought" to create the necessary atmosphere that Gatsby wanted to paint his persona. They are such a backdrop tool that Nick does not even know of they are the same people as in the last party or not.
the same profusion of champagne, the same many-colored, many-keyed commotion, but I felt an unpleasantness in the air, a pervading harshness that hadn't been there before.
With Tom and Daisy there, Gatsby's passive antagonism with Tom reaches a new level of tension.
Or perhaps I had merely grown used to it, grown to accept West Egg as a world complete in itself, with its own standards and its own great figures, second to nothing because it had no consciousness of being so, and now I was looking at it again, through Daisy's eyes.
ACCEPTED COMMENT: When Nick says that he was "looking at it again, through Daisy's eyes" he is viewing the party from the perspective of the East Egg population, and is almost embarrassed for Gatsby. The desperate attempts to impress them is not coming across positively, as they have already predetermined that Gatsby will never be considered part of their social level, and he is simply just a dreamer, which will never change.
Through Nick's eyes, we get to know that the dignity and recognition of West Egg in the mind of those who are living there. In their views, money can bring everything, including social status and respect. Nick, as an outsider of West Egg, regards these people as a group of respectable upper-class men as well. However, at that particular night, Tom and Daisy who come from East Egg which is a place full of noblemen, look at it in a different way. They deem that people from West Egg are uneducated, supercilious, and rude. The gap between West Egg and East Egg and the contempt of Gatsby's wealth reveals the theme of this novel: American dream which give a number of people hope can never reach people's dream of it. For instance, Gatsby is a typical man who pursues his dream of being rich, but even if he succeeds, he actually loses everything he has. It is a sad thing, because it cruelly exposes a fact that people's life-long hope is inane.
Daisy's voice makes an appearance again. I think that Nick fascinates on it because it is literally the voice of money and a woman who has everything. It's a beautiful but flawed voice.
"Perhaps you know that lady." Gatsby indicated a gorgeous, scarcely human orchid of a woman who sat in state under a white plum tree. Tom and Daisy stared, with that peculiarly unreal feeling that accompanies the recognition of a hitherto ghostly celebrity of the movies.
Gatsby is trying to impress Daisy and Tom, neither of whom have been to one of his parties before. He is trying to make up for his status as "new money" with extravagance and impressive associates.
Fitzgerald shows off his incredible descriptive ability with the phrase "orchid of a woman"—readers immediately understand the attenuated beauty this woman exuded.
And this impression is only complemented by her placement under a white plum tree:
"Mrs. Buchanan . . . and Mr. Buchanan——" After an instant's hesitation he added: "the polo player."
"Oh no," objected Tom quickly, "not me."
But evidently the sound of it pleased Gatsby, for Tom remained "the polo player." for the rest of the evening.
While introducing Daisy and Tom, Gatsby needs something else to call them by to make them appear more interesting. Tom does play polo, which was referenced in Chapter 1, though it bothers him to be reduced to simply "the polo player."
All of the characters in the novel are constantly conscious of their public image; Gatsby recites his false history, Jordan Baker is the cool sportswoman and Nick, in his first passage, attempts to portray himself as a man without judgement. Gatsby's introduction of Tom as "the polo player" thus robs Tom of some of his power; it is Gatsby, not Tom, who paints a picture of the Buchanans to his party guests.
"I'd a little rather not be the polo player," said Tom pleasantly, "I'd rather look at all these famous people in—in oblivion."
Tom is an arrogant man. Therefore, it makes sense that he wants to forget about his status in relation to those around him. He is simply a polo play, but the other guests in the party are famous individuals and therefore his ego is bruised. If Gatsby keeps referring to Tom as the polo player, it will constantly remind Tom that he is "below" others at the party.
I remember being surprised by his graceful, conservative fox-trot—I had never seen him dance before.
Gatsby has often been found lurking in the corners of his lavish parties; but it isn't because he is awkward or scared to talk to people. It is because the only reason he threw these parties was so that Daisy might make an appearance at one of them. Now that she is finally here he cuts loose and finally enjoys his own party.
"In case there's a fire or a flood," she explained, "or any act of God."
Here Tom is being described in his self a force of nature; one that can destroy the life Gatsby has built for Daisy.
"Go ahead," answered Daisy genially, "and if you want to take down any addresses here's my little gold pencil."
Daisy brings up Tom's history of cheating here to make him feel uncomfortable. She acts like she has no problem with him writing down the address of all the girls he meets because she doesn't need him anymore. The gold pencil also highlights that she is gold money because gold is a color often associated with old money; plus someone whose pencils are even golden are bound to be wealthy.
she looked around after a moment and told me the girl was "common but pretty,"
This line suggests that, although Tom claims to be going to another table for amusing conversation, he is really in pursuit of a woman. The fact that Daisy seems to know this contrasts with Gatsby's dedication to her; Tom has her and can't stop looking at other women, but Gatsby has thrown every previous party in the hope that Daisy would show up.
and I knew that except for the half-hour she'd been alone with Gatsby she wasn't having a good time.
There does seem to be a genuine and significant affection between Daisy and Gatsby.
When she's had five or six cocktails she always starts screaming like that. I tell her she ought to leave it alone."
"I do leave it alone," affirmed the accused hollowly.
"We heard you yelling, so I said to Doc Civet here: 'There's somebody that needs your help, Doc.'"
Gatsby doesn't drink to maintain his image. Basically so he doesn't end up acting like this.
"Your hand shakes. I wouldn't let you operate on me!"
Due to Doctor Civet's unsteady hand, Miss Baeseker would not trust him to operate on her hand, insinuating that he is not a qualified surgeon. She is insulting him and questioning his credibility as a doctor.
pale, thin ray of moonlight between.
The symbolism of the moonlight in this chapter is two fold.
On one hand, it represents Daisy's fleeting innocence and purity that she still has. When we first see Daisy, she is wearing a white dress, but now that innocence and purity has been reduced to this thin layer of moonlight, which is easily broken.
On the other hand, the thin ray is symbolic of the opportunity for Gatsby to reach and chase his dreams. Towards the beginning of his life the night is filled with moonlight, but as it progresses and he gets older, doors close, and there is no way to undo the closing.
"I like her," said Daisy, "I think she's lovely."
Daisy has no real basis on which to like the starlet other than her appearance. This comment sums up the values of Daisy and her careless, shallow companions, and recalls her opinions of Pammy in Chapter 1:
I hope she'll be a fool- that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.
Society has judged Daisy all her life for her beauty, and she has come to accept and employ this herself.
But the rest offended her-- and inarguably, because it wasn't a gesture but an emotion. She was appalled by West Egg, this unprecedented "place" that Broadway had begotten upon a Long Island fishing village
Daisy, as a member of the aristocracy, is very used to living with "gestures", as throughout the book Nick heavily emphasizes how the upper class hides under a facade of propriety. These manners are fake and lack warmth, such as the times when we see Jordan Baker carefully balancing a non-existent object on her chin more than once. Other artificial gestures in Daisy's life include maintaining her marriage with time by pretending they both love each other — because that is the socially acceptable behavior — and the way she treats her daughter as an object to be marveled at rather than a human being.
On the other hand, there are the "emotions" that Daisy deplores. Emotions are raw, irrational, and real, and they are representative of the struggle for self-improvement associated with new wealth and the American Dream. She is "offended" because she is accustomed to her one-dimensional, casual life of the upper class, and the stark contrast between that and the vitality of the party scene disgusts her, so she looks down on the crowd full of emotion in contempt.
She was appalled by West Egg, this unprecedented "place" that Broadway had begotten upon a Long Island fishing village
This line describes Daisy's prejudices against new wealth and that culture, especially Broadway and the culture of rich people that come from there. The 1920's was when Broadway first started to become a popular form of entertainment, as a result of the popularity and influence of Vaudeville. Broadway created a culture of celebrity obsession because Broadway shows in the 20's emphasized the celebrities in them rather than the content, just like Vaudeville acts like Ziegfeld's Follies.
In many ways, West Egg is a knock off of East Egg in the same fashion that plays on Broadway have sets in place of reality. West Egg, this "Long Island Fishing Village," is a pretender to the nobility and wealth contained on its twin island. Thus, the people living in it are actors and posers, and in Daisy's opinion, not as good as the real deal. In this context, West Egg has become the place for newly wealthy people who got their money from Broadway success to live their lavish lifestyles, and Daisy resents them because these newly wealthy people created this "unprecedented" place instead of actually being born in and a part of the upper class. She sees it as no more than some pompous houses on a "Long Island Fishing Village." She didn't care if they were famous because all that matters to her is whether or not someone was born into wealth.
The following passage includes Nick's personal analysis of Daisy. Although it seems accurate, it's important to keep in mind that the novel isn't being narrated by Fitzgerald or some completely omniscient narrator. This is Nick's understanding of Daisy.
by the too obtrusive fate that herded its inhabitants along a short-cut from nothing to nothing.
The Shortcut from Nothing to Nothing
Daisy sees the American Dream as a hopeless endeavor. In her opinion, even if a person can rise from "nothing" (poverty), without a title, he or she still has "nothing." There is no rags to riches story because without argument, no one from the lower class can work their way into creating a history, nobility, and a true name for himself.
A person can work for this:
But to be truly accepted, one must be born into this:
This "obtrusive fate" forced upon those in the lower class is maintained by people who are part of the exclusive club that is old wealth. They do not accept new members, regardless of economic standing.
She saw something awful in the very simplicity she failed to understand
Daisy was raised in an upper class environment where propriety and self presentation was everything, causing her to value etiquette and social strategy more than those of New Wealth, such as Gatsby and those who attended his parties. This instilled in Daisy a prejudice against those who didn't act the part well, as well as those who defied the social boundaries.
When Daisy saw the director and the actress embrace, she admired the actress herself, yet took "offense" to the strained and generally hedonistic nature of their encounter together, reflecting her general opinion of Gatsby's partygoers and the West egg.
The spirit of Gatsby's parties, as well as those of New Wealth and the West Egg, comes from a contrived performance born of the American Dream, essentially a front worn by those who craved to be at the top of the social hierarchy in order to reach that goal. This performance is both sincere and insincere in the purest forms, as the New Wealth individuals genuinely deserved a high position due to hard work and virtue, yet they became artificial shells of themselves in impersonation of the Old Wealth in order to slip seamlessly into the highest birthright caste without being detected as one who didn't belong. Additionally, those of the New Wealth had lost sensitivity in their ability to enjoy life as they became accustomed to high class lifestyles, prompting them to go to more dramatic measures to get a thrill out of life.
This was the "simplicity" that Daisy had failed to understand; she took offense to the facades displayed by the party-goers, as well as their hedonistic behavior, which differed greatly from her personal morals. Daisy didn't understand the cause of their behavior patterns, as she had been taught to withhold sympathy from lower classes and backgrounds, prompting her to think that these people were obtrusive and greatly flawed.
Sometimes a shadow moved agains a dressing-room blind above, gave way to another shadow, an indefinite procession of shadows, that rouged and powdered in an invisible glass.
Fitzgerald uses the "shadows" as representations of the immorality and dehumanization of the upper class, in an attempt to connote the lack of empathy of the "superior class."
The "indefinite procession" of shadows suggests that gaining wealth does not make one stand out, as was the common belief, but that it simply clumped those who were trying to attain the American Dream through wealth into a group of shadows. Fitzgerald suggests that these shadows, or the wealthy, are no different from anyone else, except for the superficial facade that they are able to create with their material wealth. This facade is seen through Fitzgerald's description of the "rouged" and "powder" and the "invisible glass." These three components create the facade that the American Dream has come to mean. Fitzgerald gives this new meaning, suggesting that the material wealth, as displayed through Gastby's ostentatious parties, is simply a means for the wealthy to maintain their throne on the podium of society.
"Who is this Gatsby anyhow?" demanded Tom suddenly. "Some big bootlegger?"
Bootlegging is the illegal business of transporting (smuggling) alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law. Smuggling is usually done to circumvent taxation or prohibition laws within a particular jurisdiction. During this time period, America had a prohibition against alcohol.
Tom accuses Gatsby of attaining his wealth by dishonest means. This contemptuous question displays Tom's sense of superiority as a member of an established East Egg family.
"I didn't hear it. I imagined it. A lot of these newly rich people are just big bootleggers, you know."
"Old money" looking down on "new money." The French novelist Balzac famously wrote that "the secret of great fortunes without apparent cause is a crime forgotten," a maxim often rephrased as: "Behind every great fortune there is a great crime." For the old-money elite, however, such crimes are safely in the past, whereas for many of the nouveau riche, they are much more present...
Similarly, there is an expression popular among contemporary Russian businessmen: "Never ask about the first million."
"Well, he certainly must have strained himself to get this menagerie together."
Tom frequently uses language to degrade the things that other people admire about Gatsby. By calling his house party a menagerie, he makes it sound disordered and ridiculous, and not in a good way. Similarly, Tom looks down on Gatsby's yellow car as a "circus wagon"; in spite of the wealth it took Gatsby to acquire this lifestyle, Tom knows he is new money and so refuses to be impressed by his achievements.
Daisy began to sing with the music in a husky, rhythmic whisper, bringing out a meaning in each word that it had never had before and would never have again. When the melody rose, her voice broke up sweetly, following it, in a way contralto voices have, and each change tipped out a little of her warm human magic upon the air.
Another reference to Daisy's magical voice, here actually singing. These repeated references throughout the novel, and the effect her voice & person have on Gatsby, allude to the story of the sirens in The Odyssey
"Lots of people come who haven't been invited,"
Daisy needs structure, invitations, to be told when to come, what to do, and when to go. She can't accept the disorder of the parties as she can't accept people making their own way there.
"I'd like to know who he is and what he does," insisted Tom. "And I think I'll make a point of finding out."
Tom is suspicious of Gatsby. He knows that something about him is unsettling. He plans to investigate his person, almost as a threat. Daisy feels the need to respond with a defense.
Her glance left me and sought the lighted top of the steps, where THREE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING, a neat, sad little waltz of that year, was drifting out the open door.
"Three O'clock in the Morning" was written by Theodora Morse. It charted at number one for eight weeks.
Perhaps some unbelievable guest would arrive, a person infinitely rare and to be marvelled at, some authentically radiant young girl who with one fresh glance at Gatsby, one moment of magical encounter, would blot out those five years of unwavering devotion.
It is the American dream, the hope that the future can be better. However, it relies on others to make it better for Daisy, whereas Gatsby made himself, with only inspiration from others, not help.
When he came down the steps at last the tanned skin was drawn unusually tight on his face, and his eyes were bright and tired.
The tightly drawn skin on Gatsby's face symbolizes how tense and anxious he is. Also, his eyes are bright from the glistening of tears and are tired from having to endure watching Daisy be unhappy.
"I feel far away from her," he said. "It's hard to make her understand."
Ironically, even though Gatsby and Daisy only live a stone's throw from each other, he feels that the 5 years apart have placed them eons away, emotionally, from each other. He only has these parties and his lavish lifestyle to serve as a prop to impress Daisy in hopes that their old love will be rekindled.
"The dance?" He dismissed all the dances he had given with a snap of his fingers. "Old sport, the dance is unimportant."
This shows that the American Dream is intangible and elusive. At first, Gatsby wanted to simply meet Daisy. Then, he wanted to spend time with her. Now, even after a dance, he is not satisfied. He will never be satisfied because whenever he achieves one goal, he moves on to another.
He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: "I never loved you."
Jay Gatsby's ultimate goal in the novel is not just gaining the love of Daisy Buchanan, but rather going back to the past when Daisy was truly pure without her associations with Tom Buchanan. Gatsby doesn't view Daisy as a woman whom he loves dearly but as a goal that must be reached in order for his life to be complete. Gatsby wants to relive the time when the two had first met and were in love as having the present Daisy as she is not satisfying for him.
One of them was that, after she was free, they were to go back to Louisville and be married from her house-just as if it were five years ago.
Gatsby is so fixated on the past, that he longs to take Daisy back to the exact same place that they left off the first time.
He broke off and began to walk up and down a desolate path of fruit rinds and discarded favors and crushed flowers.
Gatsby is literally pacing back and forth over the leftovers of his party. He is also metaphorically treading on the crushed dream that everything with Daisy would be "just the way it was before." Gatsby is starting down a path that will lead only to crushed hopes and broken dreams.
"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"
Gatsby is struggling to accept that things and people can change in 5 years. He expected Daisy to just leave Tom and fall back in love with him the second she found out he was rich, but she is having trouble making a decision on what to do. Nick is aware of this because he is a fairly reasonable man. But Gatsby is so set on recreating 1917 and the love he and Daisy had before he went to war that he is almost detached from reality. This is where we learn that even with all his charm and wealth, the "Great" Gatsby is still greatly flawed and somewhat delusional.
Gatsby's insistence that you can repeat the past is an extreme version of American self-determination. Everything is possible, according to the American Dream, with enough hard work, creativity, and tenacity. James Gatz can become Jay Gatsby and Jay Gatsby, if he so desires, can "of course" repeat the past. Except that, of course, he can't and no one can. That indomitable American spirit is no match for the reality that TIME PASSES.
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
Very similar imagery to the image used when we first met Gatsby. In the first chapter he is "stretch[ing] out his arms toward the water in a curious way" towards the green light. The same idea is used here to reaffirm that Gatsby's green light, his American Dream, is to recreate the past and everything that comes with it (i.e. Daisy).
"I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before," he said, nodding determinedly. "She'll see."
Gatsby is pretending that he is doing everything for Daisy when in reality it is for himself. He says that he is going to "fix everything" as if it is broken. This also implies that Daisy's present is not the way it is supposed to be. Also, he says, "she'll see" while talking to Nick. However, he should be trying to prove Nick wrong and therefore say "you'll see". Evidently, Gatsby's life revolves around Daisy and cannot see past the dream world he has built for himself.
He 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.
Gatsby has not moved on from his past and is obsessed with trying to recreate it because that was the time in which he was happiest. With Daisy in his life, Gatsby felt secure and complete. Without Daisy there to ground him, Gatsby feels that his life has no purpose and that he has lost a significant part of who he is. Although Gatsby is desperate to make his life the same as it was five years ago, he does not take into account that people change and that it is impossible for life to be the exact same as it was in the past. Unless Gatsby lets go of his past he will never be able to be happy with his life in the present.
One autumn night, five years before, they had been walking down the street when the leaves were falling, and they came to a place where there were no trees
The autumn links to Chapter 8 when Gatsby is shot by Wilson, who "disappears amongst the yellowing trees." Gatsby's fate reaches a full circle. His relationship starts with Daisy with "no trees" whereas when he is shot by Wilson he disappears amongst the trees.
and the sidewalk was white with moonlight.
Moonlight is a natural source of light. This emphasizes the sincerity between them and contrasts with the green, artificial light on Daisy's dock.
White traditionally symbolizes purity and innocence, which also contributes to the genuine tenderness of this memory.
The quiet lights in the houses were humming out into the darkness
Personification of the quiet lights create a mysterious atmosphere. The diction "darkness" foreshadows Gatsby and Daisy's tragic fate.
stir and bustle among the stars.
Refers to "Musica universalis" or the music of the spheres. This music was thought to be inaudible to mortal beings.
Stars traditionally also represent fate— this "stir and bustle" implies that Gatsby is trying to change the determined course of things by associating with this girl in a different social class. Star diction is used frequently in Romeo and Juliet.
Out of the corner of his eye Gatsby saw that the blocks of the sidewalks really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees-
Gatsby sees Daisy as his connection to the Upper Class lifestyle, or his "ladder" up the social hierarchy.
The life of luxury without burden, the one that Daisy and Tom live now, is Gatsby's ultimate goal. Money is the most powerful thing in the world, and no earthly limits or rules can stop someone with a lot of it. The wealthy are inducted into this "secret place above the trees," where they are higher than everything. Gatsby thinks if he can get to Daisy "alone," meaning if Daisy did not choose to marry another man from her social circle, then he will be able to suck out of her the wealth that will support his dream.
Additionally, given that Gatsby views himself as a "son of God" who must be about his father's business, he might have even higher aspirations here. If Gatsby were able to become rich and powerful he would view himself as somewhat of a demigod; so the ladder he is talking about might by his version of the "stairway to heaven".
he could climb to it, if he climbed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder.
When Gatsby is telling Nick his life story, it is clear that Gatsby desperately wanted to live beyond his means and move up in class. At first, Gatsby struggles to even make ends meet and is only rich in his dreams. This changes, however, when he meets Cody and through him comes up in life. With this boost, Gatsby is closer to fulfilling his dreams and having access to all that life offers monetarily. Being closer to wealth also makes him closer to achieving his deity status, which he has yearned for. Both of these are the "palp of life" and "milk of wonder" that Gatsby is referring to.
Being close to a rising status is bringing Gatsby closer not only to money and being a god, but also his american dream. Gatsby's dream of rising from rags to riches is the basis for many people's American dream, which makes Gatsby's story an ideal example of the American dream.
Gatsby's relationship with Daisy aids him in his quest to reach the top of the "social ladder" because a potential relationship with her would give him access to her "old wealth", inherited and more reputable than his rags to riches story. Moreover, the phrases "suck on the pap of life" and "gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder" illustrate a connection between Daisy's care or "nursing" of Gatsby in their potential relationship by providing for his social status needs and in turn, his direct connection to the eternal and immortal characteristics of "old wealth".
The use of color highlights the difference between characters' appearances and their true personalities. White has connotations of purity and innocence, and when we first meet Daisy, she wears a white dress. We immediately associate her with innocence. However, throughout the novel it becomes clear that Daisy is not as pure as she wants others to believe.
He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God.
The Distant Ideal
Although (in this memory of his former self), Gatsby desperately desires to kiss Daisy, he understands that as soon as he's committed the act, he will lose the idealistic perception of her floating within his imagination. Indeed, only from a distance can Gatsby (and others) truly believe in the loftiest ideas. As soon as he approaches the concrete limitations of reality, he can no longer invent reality within his "mind," shaping and crafting it to his own magnificent specifications. Instead, reality begins to shape and craft his mind. No longer can he "romp," roaming freely with the same creative powers of a "God."
With proximity fades perfection. When Gatsby binds his "unutterable visions," unspoken and imaginary, to the physical reality of Daisy with her "perishable breath," he metaphorically kills those visions, degrading them to the level of reality.
Even in his memory, Gatsby has lost the ideal that Daisy represents. Nonetheless, after not seeing her for several years, he persists with his fascination, which their separation conjures and intensifies.
From a distance, Daisy can reach flawless perfection, an unattainable ideal.
Close up, however beautiful and charming, Daisy falls within the confines of reality.
ACCEPTED COMMENT: Gatsby is about to put his (American) dreams into the acquisition of Daisy. His links his attainment of his dreams to the attainment of Daisy.
So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her.
Gatsby is acknowledging that as soon as his commits to his relationship with Daisy, takes it to a level where his intentions are undeniable, and perhaps makes Daisy fall in love with him, he can't go back. He knows that he is secretly manipulating her to achieve his dream of wealth, but he tells himself once his "unutterable visions" come true, he will never use people, playing the role of God, again. However, before Gatsby goes through with this, he pauses to reflect on the situation, and if it really is the answer to his dreams. He may have wished for these dreams on a star, another allusion to his romantic readiness and inclination to turn his life into a fairy tale.
Moreover, the image of a "tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star" calls to mind the frequent descriptions of Daisy's beautiful, musical voice.
At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.
In the moment when Gatsby achieves that which he desired most, a chance at social mobility disguised as a kiss from Daisy, it becomes apparent that a phase of his life is over, and his journey, in a sense, has come to a climax. The pinnacle of this "incarnation" has ended his era of imagination and idleness about not only a future with Daisy, but also a life of social status, bringing a sense of reality of the situation, even as the situation maintains a sense of Gasby-eque drama, as Gatsby's performance births a new perspective in his pursuit of prestige. The kiss symbolizes reciprocation in Gatsby's infatuation with the wealthy and higher-class characters in the novel, as his recent performances, with characters such as Dan Cody, had made him of interest to their kind, giving him the social mobility he so desired in his previous stage of life.
The usage of the word "incarnation" invokes a divine aura about Gatsby and his relationship with Daisy, as he has come from a humble past and rises up to a seemingly omnipotent position. Nick describes Gatsby as "a Son of God" and suggests that Gatsby's persona developed into a "Platonic" being; perhaps, then, this was the moment that the transformation took place, as he was locked into an eternal addiction to Daisy's love and status (F. Scott Fitzgerald 98). He was driven by the desire not only for Daisy's love and approval, but for social status: to become a godlike, all-powerful entity among men.
ACCEPTED COMMENT: One other comparatively minor item of note is Fitzgerald's reliance on flower imagery especially in reference to Daisy. While Gatsby holds her in the highest regard, elevating her to near divinity, she is "grounded" by this earthly description. When Gatsby kisses her, she blossoms for him, almost as if he is some omnipotent source that breathes life into the flowering landscape. This connotation is also consistent with Gatsby's ability to romanticize and enliven almost anything to his advantage; but people, like flowers, are ultimately transient. While the beautiful, flower-like Daisy may bloom and flourish with Gatsby's kiss, she is at her peak here and now enters the inevitable descent toward death (paralleling their doomed relationship). Incidentally, the word 'incarnation' contains the word 'carnation,' another flower reference, though likely unintended.
Through all he said, even through his appalling sentimentality, I was reminded of something-an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I had heard somewhere a long time ago. For a moment a phrase tried to take shape in my mouth and my lips parted like a dumb man's, as though there was more struggling upon them than a wisp of startled air. But they made no sound, and what I had almost remembered was uncommunicable forever.
The Lost Generation
The Lost Generation were a group of disillusioned writers working around the era of World War I. They were considered "lost" because they had abandoned faith in America and its promises of opportunity and love, expatriating to France. This league of writers included Hemingway, T.S.Eliot, and F.Scott Fitzgerald, the author of The Great Gatsby.
Like the members of the Lost Generation, Nick is disillusioned, too. A story of true love seems like words he had once heard but long had been forgotten. He tries to remember, but he finds it impossible. The famous writers, in some senses, were travelling to France to become reillusioned. But like Nick, it was an endeavor in vain for them as well. On the other hand, Gatsby, despite fighting in the war, is illusioned. He still believes in hope, and he speaks with "appalling sentimentality." His raw emotion when talking of Daisy demonstrates that he has not yet given up on the American Dream or love.
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