The Great Gatsby, Part I

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[image from Wikipedia]

I lived a deprived teen-aged life.

My high school didn’t include The Great Gatsby in its curriculum.

I didn’t read it freshman year.

…Nor Sophomore year.

When I left my lovely high school, I heard they threw it into the reading list for the incoming freshmen class. Those lucky ducks…

After a year of thinking I could be a chemist, I entered my English department with the belief that I was so well learned from high school that I could take anything these professors threw at me.

My professors proved me wrong in so many ways. Grateful as I was for all the things they proved me wrong in, I wish they all didn’t automatically assume every student read The Great Gatsby. I always felt lost during those conversations so I told myself I would read it. One day…

For those of you who forgot what the book was about, here’s a quick refresher thanks to my random search on Google Images:

This about sums it up.

I won’t go into a full-on review because it would seem almost silly to create a review of a classic like this. You either like this book or you don’t. If you don’t like it, you might not want to read any more of this post…

BECAUSE I LOVED IT!

I went to the number one party school in the country where morals were loose and the liquor was easy to obtain. Of course, I didn’t wait until I was 21 to take advantage of these opportunities and then continued on the merriment into my last weeks in Georgia.

Whether it is by luck or mishap, life flew me North. Away from the party scene. Away from insane drinking. Away from the facepalm and mumbling the words, “How much did I drink?”

Take that as you will, but I will miss all the memories that came from that place.

With the extra free time I now had, I decided to finally open The Great Gatsby and fulfill the missing piece from my teen years.

After a dedicated weekend, my mind was blown.

I found that the narrator, Nick Carraway, was like me. First, he was almost violently introduced into the party scene with a clear and sudden understanding of just how loose the morals were. Nick stumbles from one event to the other, watching people who seem to know what they’re doing  better than he does. Then, when he finally seems to have control over the issue, he doesn’t.

This is reminiscent of the college lifestyle. As a freshman, you stumble through social gatherings, put together by people who know what they’re doing. In sophomore year, you think you have a better grasp over things, but still use the people around as guidance in determining what’s fun and what’s not. Your last years then become a blur in feeling like you have control over the situation and then losing it…only to gain it back just before finals (to which everything is lost in favor of good grades). Then, you graduate.

Afterwards, you either stay where you are or move away. Nick moved away.

Enter Jay Gatsby.

Many people are dreamers. It is what keeps us moving. We thrive off the dreams we’ve had since we were six and the dreams we created yesterday. However, if our dreams become so much of an obsession that we completely lose our grasps on reality, the results are extreme. I’m not saying that the results are good or bad. Instead, I’m suggesting that obsessions with dreams can lead to the complete end of the spectrum or the other. Success or Failure.

Gatsby focused all of his attention and ambition in winning back the love of a girl he met one night. At a party. Many people sitting in bars now can tell you how poorly that usually turns out. One of my friends thinks he’s in love with every girl he sleeps with, only to watch the girl run away with the next jock look-a-like she meets at the next bar. Sad, really. Gatsby is a hopeless romantic in a sea of materialists. He stoops to their level in hopes of being like them, but they shun him for his obvious notions of the fantastical. When you compare him to one of the most realistic (though grossest) characters, there is nothing between them except the woman they want. However, Gatsby wants Daisy for all the wrong reasons. He wants the idea of her and how she made him feel that first night he kissed her.

We all know that the first kiss can never be replaced. Every kiss afterwards is just a memory of the first one. The excitement ebbs away slowly and replaced with either love or apathy. Then there are the unfortunate times when one walks away from a kiss with a different impression than the other participating party. Then things are just awkward…

The Great Gatsby contains with various moments eerily familiar to our own lives, but set apart between sheets of paper so that those in denial of the truths can tuck the book away. One reviewer for The Great Gatsby said she hated the movie because she didn’t like how the film portrays Gatsby as a man chasing a dream and Daisy as a bauble of a woman. She thought they were star-crossed lovers–obviously she refused to believe that sometimes there aren’t happy endings and not everyone loves everyone.

I’m a hopeless romantic and proud of it, but unfortunately life has a way of squeezing a little realism into me. Sometimes the guy doesn’t get the girl because he or she is meant for something else. Sometimes the hero dies, because that’s what needs to be done in order for the world to keep on.

But sometimes, the sun does shine and that’s the light we can keep hoping for.

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4 thoughts on “The Great Gatsby, Part I

  1. I really wanted to love The Great Gatsby, but I just didn’t. But your review makes me wish that I did love it! 🙂

    I never read it in English either, in fact we read barely any books in my school for English which is ridiculous, one book, two plays. I read The Great Gatsby….last year I think, of my own choice but I just failed to connect with it. The narrative style made me feel so far away from the story and it was like I could see how fantastic each scene was supposed to be but I just wasn’t feeling it. Yet, in retrospect I appreciated it much much more! I can’t wait to see the film adaptation, it looks great. I think I will probably try and reread it in the future and see if I connect with it more the second time around. 🙂

    • I’m glad that I didn’t read the book until this year. I doubt my high school self would be able to appreciate it the way I do now. I highly recommend you to take a second look at it when you get a chance.

      Also, that sounds like an awful English class! We at least got to read some decent works in my school. Some books I kept because they meant so much to me. I also didn’t have an appreciation for poetry until high school. Now I’m a Romantic 🙂 Also, I doubt my career path would take this direction if it hadn’t been for high school.

      P.S. Sorry for my disappearance. >.<

  2. Rhonda Dames

    What we think true love is and what it really is, can be two completely different realities. Adultery is never okay, even if we are attracted to that person, which is why we can bring upon us the consequences of our bad choices. We need to romance our spouse and not someone else. I can relate to the story of The Great Gatsby, but realize how foolish it was of him to pursue her.

    • I completely agree with you. I think there is a difference between our perception of love and what true love is. Sadly, Gatsby didn’t realize it in time.

      Not sure if you feel the same way, but it drives me nuts when someone says that Jay and Daisy are a beautiful couple. Obviously, they didn’t read the book…

      Thanks for the comment!

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