The Great Gatsby

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“The whole caravansary had fallen in like a card house at the disapproval in her eyes.”

In F. Scott-Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway narrates his summer spent with his cousin Daisy Buchanan, her husband Tom Buchanan, and their neighbor Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is the traditional American self-made man; he went from being a poor fisherman to a rich bootlegger in only a few years. Five years before the novel begins, Daisy and Jay were dating, but then Gatsby went to fight in Europe and attended Oxford for a few months, and while he was away, Daisy married Tom. Gatsby now lives across from the Buchanans in a huge estate and throws parties every Saturday night, hoping that one day Daisy will attend.

Gatsby expects too much. He romanticizes his relationship with Daisy to such an extent–he even thought the green light on the dock near her house was romantic–that when he finally meets her again, he is disappointed. As Nick Carraway notes, “There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams–not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything.” Gatsby almost lets his enchanted ideas ruin his perception of Daisy.

Tom Buchanan has a very different relationship with the women in this book. He spends a lot of time with his mistress, Myrtle Wilson, but always comes back to Daisy. He tells Myrtle that since Daisy is from a Catholic family, they can never divorce. (That’s a lie; Daisy is not Catholic.) His intentions for Myrtle differ from Gatsby’s for Daisy–Gatsby wants to marry Daisy, Tom just likes having Myrtle as a mistress on the side. Gatsby has a sort of selfless extravagance; everything he does is just to get Daisy’s attention. Tom has an abusive form of greed; he wants to control Myrtle and Daisy and is mean to both of them–at one point he even breaks Myrtle’s nose. Though both characters are greedy in a way, Gatsby’s type of greed is more appealing than Tom’s.

The Great Gatsby is a classic work of literature, which you probably have read or will read at some point. I would suggest reading it slowly, to aid your interpretation of the repetitions, themes, and word choice.

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