I remember taking a quiz at FaceBook about what literary canon is your life. I had The Great Gatsby as the result, and much to my embarrassment, I had to admit that a few years back, my knowledge about literature was well, too limited compared to what I read and enjoy now. So, since then, I had my eyes peeled for a copy of the 1920’s classics, and what do you know, I had no idea copies of the said classic have been lurking at thrift shops.
The Great Gatsby is basically about Jay Gatsby who made all the riches he can in pursuit of the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan, who “represents the American dream,” thus, rejecting Gatsby’s offer of love. It was well, a sad love story that ends up with a dead lover.
Nick Carraway narrates the story, which makes the point of view limited and adds up to the mystery around Gatsby’s riches and makes the reader more eager on unfolding the mysteries around our characters.
One of the things that I liked on the novel is its strong characterization. I especially liked Jordan Baker, Nick’s love interest. Their love story was wicked:
“Her grey sun-strained eyes stared straight ahead, but she had deliberately shifted our relations, and for a moment I thought I loved her. But I am slow thinking an full of interior rules that act as brakes on my desires, and I knew that first I had to get myself definitely out of that tangle back home. I’d been writing letters once a week and signing them “Love, Nick,” and all I could think of was how, when that certain girl played tennis, a faint mustache of perspiration appeared on her upper lip. Nevertheless there was a vague understanding that had to be tactfully broken off before I was free.”
She was stoic and seemingly allergic to commitments. Dude, seriously, I love her. She was like Summer of 500 Days of Summer, only, much more sophisticated and elegant. I liked how she shows tough love:
“Oh, and do you remember—“ she added,” —a conversation we had once about driving a car?”
“You said a bad driver was only sage until she met another bad driver, didn’t I? I mean it was careless of me to make such a wrong guess. I thought you were rather an honest, straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride.”
“I’m thirty,” I said. “I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.”
She didn’t answer. Angry, and half in love with her, and tremendously sorry, I turned away.
All these make me like her more than Daisy Buchanan, who strikes me as someone who is, well, a cheater and player. I mean, fine, Jordan toyed with Nick’s feelings, but Daisy led on Gatsby and she was married(!). She knew what she wanted, unlike Daisy who was like a teenager lingering on the affection of two boys. As Nick put it, “But there was Jordan beside me, who, unlike Daisy, was too wise ever to carry well-forgotten dreams from age to age.”
And of course, Jay Gatsby was too adorable. He was in love. There was a (dark) cloud around our main protagonist, but his dorky acts make him lovable. He was filthy rich and gossips were going around him and how he got all those money. There was even nasty rumor about “Gatsby killing a man.” He was brooding, but the reader cannot deny the fact that he was just so lovable. For someone his stature, it was refreshing to see how he was all flimsy when he finally met Daisy, the love of his life.
“Where are you going?” demanded Gatsby in immediate alarm.
“I’ll be back.”
“I’ve got to speak to you about something before you go.”
He followed me wildly into the kitchen, close the door and whispered “Oh God!” in a miserable way.
“What’s the matter?”
“This is a terrible mistake,” he said, shaking his head from side to side, “a terrible, terrible mistake.”
“You’re just embarrassed, that’s all,” and luckily I added: “Daisy’s embarrassed too.”
He is too much adorable when he’s in love. I can imagine him glowing, like a female (Oh hey, that was sexist). Oh goodness, very much like Mr. Darcy (spoken in the old English accent), only less boastful and is figuratively on his knees, just for Daisy.
As I watched him he adjusted himself a little, visibly. His hand took hold of hers and she said something low in his ear he turned toward her with a rush of emotion. I think that voice held him most with its fluctuating, feverish warmth because it couldn’t be over-dreamed—that voice was a deathless song.
I like how Gatsby, with his intimidating wealth, goes back to being a boy in front of Daisy. It is always attractive to see this side of a menacing character, like how Benjamin of The O.C. is. He felt like the quintessential Mafia lover. The mystery of his riches was never explained throughout the novel. There were speculations about his drug business and how it involved illegal stuff, but Gatsby explained that it was well earned. Probably not with hard work per se, but with the trust that he gained from one of the men he had worked for.
His bad boy image was somehow drowned in the overwhelming lover feel, on how he struggled to reach his state, just so he can get back to Daisy. His annoying parties that were initially thought of as a display of his wealth, have become endearing all of sudden, after knowing that he was doing that in the hopes of having Daisy would walk into one of these and meet her again. He becomes nervous and suddenly, the man who struck people as someone who is sure of himself, becomes a shy, little boy who didn’t know how to act, in the fear of making a bad impression to his love.
His bliss did not last long though, for after professing his love for Daisy, that woman just had to be brutally honest and reject Gatsby in front of one too many people. He had his heart broken, just as my heart got broken too.
The track curved and now it was going away from the sun which, as it sank lower, seemed to spread itself in benediction over the vanishing city where she had drawn her breath. He stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air, to save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him. But it was all going by too fast now for his blurred eyes and he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever.
This is all heartbreaking for me. Of how he would have easily owned up to Daisy’s accidentally killing her husband’s lover, Myrtle Wilson. Without any second thought, he was ready to take all the blame, because he loved her. And what Daisy did was, well, go away with his cheating husband.
Daisy’s morals were crazy. After knowing that her husband is cheating with her, she went on having her own affair, and then throwing all this genuine love for his lying, cheater husband. I would have liked it better if she chose Tom because they were married and it was the right thing to do, but she had to choose him because she loved him.
It felt like there was some twisted moral around the story.
What’s even more disgusting is how all with Gatsby’s weekly parties, not one of his regular attendees bothered to attend his funeral. No wonder Nick took leave after he realized how sickening it is in the upper part of society’s triangle, but I guess, it’s really lonely on the top.
The novel reminds me of The Smith’s Half A Person, which basically talks of man in love and worked up his life because of his undying love for a woman. It was one of my favorite songs The Smiths songs. It was sad as much as the novel was. A pledge of a melancholic love: