1. More rumors emerge about Gatsby. List them and any others we have read about so far. What kind of picture is emerging about this man?

– In the American army

– “One time he killed a man who had found out that he was nephew to Von Hindenburg and second cousin to the devil.

– “I heard he’s a German spy”

– “He’s a relative of the Kaiser”

– “He’s an Oggsford man”

– “He’s a Great War hero”

Bootlegger

Gatsby’s real story is shrouded in rumors and secrecy, hundreds of people from all over Long Island know his name & his parties but nothing about the man himself aside from the questionable & mysterious rumors and gossip. Because of this, we as readers get the image that he could be lonely, everybody knows his name but not him, it creates an air of mystery around him which is intriguing to both his party guests and readers.

2. Why do you think Fitzgerald lists all of Gatsby’s party guests ?

Fitzgerald’s writing is full of intense detail & realism which make it easy for readers to understand exactly what is going on in the character’s minds and empathetically relate to them without realizing it. His writing goes on “tangents” just like people do when they think. We think in detail and hundreds of thoughts can cross our minds in a short span of time, Fitzgerald shows this here when he lists all the party guests, and continuously throughout the book. The list of names too, follow a trend, they nearly all have some kind of animal in them, a hint to the nature of the corrupt people attending Gatsby’s parties. The continuous use of animal names throughout the list could be referencing the guest’s reckless & disreputable identity & behavior. They are reckless & careless at these parties, ruining things and freeloading on the booze that comes from a mysterious man they have never met. Fitzgerald/Nick describes the party-goer’ actions as out of control, they trample things as animals do, eat & drink excessively & have no care for the consequences of their actions at the parties. The list also describes the strange & unfortunate experiences of some guests, “Muldoon strangled his wife, Henry L. Palmetto killed himself” and “Ulysses Swett was run over by an automobile”; these help create the shady atmosphere of the scene and it’s guests and show how this is seen by those outside of the seclusion of these West Egg parties.

3. Gatsby tells Nick about his life. Do you believe him? Why/why not? Bonus question: do you think Nick believes him?

When Gatsby tells Nick the “truth” about his life because he wants to share things with Nick on his own terms, whether they are truthful or not, Gatsby likes Nick and wants him to know & believe only what he himself has shared. He wants to have a kind of honesty between them, honesty of what Gatsby wants Nick’s impression of him be, not a true honesty but Gatsby’s own truth that he has made for himself. Nick is suspicious of Gatsby’s story because of the manner in which he speaks and the preconceived impression of ominous mystery that Nick has subconsciously gained through the rumors and stories told around him. “And with this doubt, his whole statement fell to pieces, and I wondered if there wasn’t something a little sinister about him, after all.” says Nick after Gatsby hurriedly tells him he was “educated at Oxford”, which indicates that Nick is unsure what to think; he is listening incredulously & is fascinated by the stories, he strains to hold back laughter at points during Gatsby’s somewhat unbelievable tales however after seeing the photo of a younger Jay Gatsby “with a cricket bat in hand” he reveals his conviction, saying “then it was all true”.

4. What does Jordan’s story of Daisy’s marriage reveal about Daisy? Does this change your perspective on Daisy at all? Why/why not?

Jordan’s story of Daisy shared with readers a glimpse of Gatsby & Daisy’s fleeting love and also the lack of freedom she feels/knows she has; she is stuck in a life that internally, she wants to escape, but believes as everyone did, that she had no choice in it. It also illustrates Daisy’s potentially changeable and unstable personality; on the night of her wedding to Tom, Jordan is frightened & shocked to find Daisy in compete despair, distraught & outrageously drunk, desperate to change her mind – to the point of being hysterical, however the next time Jordan sees Daisy and Tom – in Santa Barbra after their honeymoon – she states that she’d “never seen a girl so mad about her husband.”.  Jordan’s story renewed my feelings of pity for Daisy & how her life has made her, despite her lack of blamelessness; it revealed the inner unrest and unhappiness Daisy hides & her changeable and unpredictable personality while also illustrating Daisy’s initial ‘innocence’ and the changes she made after her romance with Gatsby.

5. Nick says, “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.” What do you think he means by this? List each of the major characters we have met so far in the novel and assign them to one of the four categories Nick describes. Pick three and justify your assignment.

Daisy: pursued, tired
Gatsby: pursuing
Tom:
Jordan:
Nick:

Gatsby pursues Daisy and his fantasy of the life he has envisioned them having. He relies on this immense obsession and illusion that he has created, it has been his life for all the five years that separate them and he has been pursuing Daisy and this illusion throughout this time & can’t see past his obsessed pursuit.
Daisy’s life, aside from her romance with Gatsby has been exactly what “should’ have been, she married rich, had a child and did all that was expected of a well-born woman of the 20’s. Her life has become one of boredom, Fitzgerald illustrates this immediately in Daisy & Tom’s introductory chapter, she says things like “What’ll we plan? What do people plan?”  & “Well, I’ve had a very bad time, Nick, and I’m pretty cynical about everything.”. With a husband and daughter whom she does not truly love, Daisy’s repetitive life is tiresome, she cannot help but compare the life she has had over the past five years, to the life she could have had with Gatsby when they meet again for the first time & the realization hits her as she looks at his beautiful shirts, to Daisy these are a metaphor for all that she has in her life compared to all that she has not.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Hey Siena,

    Nice start!

    I think there is more to the party names than a “tangent” of Fitzgeralds thinking. Can you consider why Gatsby or Nick might consider it important that we know the people who go to the parties, or even just their names? Is there any sort of common theme with any of the names that could indicate something or are they random? Also think about how little we know of these people…they are just names. It’s a lot of effort to go to for a whole bunch of names.

    When is Nick convinced of Gatsby’s story? What is it about the way that Gatsby delivered the information on his past that could be pretty suspicious?

    I agree with your statements about Daisy. I too, pity her. I think she is a woman that has been trapped by the age she lived in and her circumstances. I often wonder if the limitations placed on her (and don’t get me wrong, I don’t think she is entirely faultless in this area) have hardened her and made her rather bland. I sometimes think she is materialistic because it really is all she has as a woman of the 1920s. It’s a rather sad thing to think about really.

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  2. Siena,

    You picked up on the animal reference! Yay!

    You are making some great observations about the text. Now I want you to go further. Specifically think about HOW Fitzgerald is developing the feeling or impression you are getting. Is there a series of words or a theme to the language he is using? Perhaps there is a specific metaphor or language device that gives you a certain impression?

    Really examine these things. You are beginning to use evidence and to weave this into your work but how can you pull it apart in a more in depth manner?

    🙂

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