July 9, 2011

The Great Gatsby Book Club 2

Good morning, class :)

A Trusty Point of View
To begin the novel, our protagonist, Nick Carraway, begins by flashing back to a brief moment with his father. His father advises him that "whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." As Nick mulls over this advice, he realizes that he has always been "inclined to reserve all judgments..."

This is crucial, because it allows the reader to understand that Nick is a character we can trust. Nick is neutral and prides himself on lacking judgment. This is important, because we know that whatever Nick tells us is going to be true and his actions are reliable.

Nick lives in a modest home in West Egg, next to a mansion of Jay Gatsby. West Egg is settled across a lack from a wealthy development, East Egg. Essentially think of this as the Hampton's in New York. There's the really rtizy side (East Egg), and then the more middle-class side (West Egg). Although Nick experienced a comfortable childhood, he understands he will not have a large salary, and in fact, will always struggle a bit. He is okay with this and doesn't seek handouts. Instead, many people begin to force their wealth upon him.

How we see why we need to trust Nick. When Daisy and Gatsby begin to thrust their rich and famous lifestyle upon Nick, he becomes uncomfortable. Instead of judging them, he silently observes and allows teh reader to create their own opinion. Because of Nick's humble personality and lifestyle, Dasiy, Gatsby, and Tom's a seen as being ludicrous and over the top. They are spoiled and stuck-up. The contrast between Nick and the rest of the characters allows Fitzgerald to emphasize a major theme in this work: the hallowness of the upper class.

The Green Light
Remember last time we met, John Green told us to keep an eye out for the green light? At the tail end of chapter 1, the first reference is made to the green light when Nick spots Gatsby watching him from his yard. Nick says:

"I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glaned sea-ward--and distinguished nthing except a single green light, minute and far way, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness."

Nick is confused by this green light, not knowing it's source or purpose, until chapter 5. (Muahaha, now you have to keep reading!)

Gatsby & Daisy
 By the end of chapter 4 we realize that Gatsby has been carrying a secret in regards to Nick's cousin, Daisy. Nick learns that Daisy and Gatsby once knew each other and that Gatsby has been enduring a heated crush ever since. In fact, it is assumed that Gatbsy purposefully bought such a luxorious mansion right across the bay from Daisy's house just so she could one day see him and his wealth. Gatsby assumes that as soon as she sees his wealthy lifestyle, she will immediately want to be with him instead of her husband, Tom.

We can assume that since Gatsby orchestrated Nick moving into his particular home just so Gatsby would have a chance of reconnecting with Daisy. In fact, it is brought to Nick's attention at the end of chapter 4 that he is serving as a type of pawn for Gatsby to play. Nick is under instruction to invite Daisy over for tea, only to bait her in traveling to West Egg and visiting Gatsby! Tricky, tricky.

What is real? DISCUSSION!
There's a special scene in chapter 3 when Nick visits Gatsby's house for the very first time in hopes of meeting him and getting to know this strange neighbor. While walking throughout the house with Jordan, Nick's secret crush, they encounger a stout man in a library exclaiming that the books are real. He is so excited and cannot believe that all the books are real within the library.

This is fairly representative, because at this point in the chapter, Nick has not yet met Gatsby and is questioning his authenticity. Nick questions whether the stories he has heard of Gatsby in regards to his lifestyle and past are real.

So, knowing that Fitzgerald purposefully wanted to speak of the hallowness of the upper class, in what ways could Nick's confusion in regard to Gatsby's lifestyle and authenticity be reflected in this scene in the library? In what other ways is the hallowness of the upper class shown throughout the novel so far?

Read Chapters 5 & 6 by Tuesday!

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