Saturday, January 21, 2012

Great Gatsby Read-Along Week 3: The golden s*** hits the fan

This last stretch with Gatsby was pretty stressful. I now have an intense cold, and I'm not saying it's Fitzy's fault . . . but I'm fairly certain it's Fitzy's fault.

Poor Gatsby (how many times am I going to say that before I'm done with this book?). He finally has Daisy in his house, where he can show her how fancy he is. He even flaunts his very full closet of metrosexual attire, which brings her to tears.
"'They're such beautiful shirts,' she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. 'It makes me sad because I've never seen such---such beautiful shirts before.'" (p. 92)
Because who DOESN'T cry in the presence of pretty clothes?

Any excuse. Any excuse at all.
But this is the beginning of the spell breaking. Daisy has been unattainable for too long, and he's built her up too much in his mind. With her standing next to him, he looks across the bay to the place where the green light at the end of her dock used to be his only connection to her. "Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one" (p. 93). And the enchantment surrounding Daisy keeps diminishing, because she can't possibly live up to the "colossal vitality of his illusion" (p. 95).

But before he met her, Jay Gatsby (aka James Gatz) couldn't think of anything but breaking into the "universe of ineffable gaudiness" (p. 99; meaning, he wanted to be rich, yo). He shunned his parents in favor of seeking his fortune. He became contemptuous of women, "of young virgins because they were ignorant, of the others because they were hysterical about things which in his overwhelming self-absorption he took for granted" (p. 98). Basically, he was earning his degree in douche-baggery.

Despite ALMOST inheriting $25,000 from a new friend, he hadn't made his fortune yet when he first met Daisy. He didn't STOP pursuing wealth (her parents would never let her marry a poor officer), but I think he started pursuing it more selflessly. She became his entire reason for attaining The Dream, which explains why he's so fixated on her and so determined to turn the clock on their relationship back 5 years, to the day they met. He demands a do-over.

Then Nick says/narrates something infuriatingly cryptic: "I was reminded of somethingan elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I had heard somewhere a long time ago. For a moment a phrase tried to take shape in my mouth and my lips parted like a dumb man's, as though there was more struggling upon them than a wisp of startled air. But they made no sound, and what I had almost remembered was uncommunicable forever" (p. 111).

This BETTER NOT be uncommunicable forever.

Now that Daisy has sashayed back into Gatsby's life, he once again makes some life changes. He puts an end to the lavish parties (because she doesn't like them) and fires all his servants (because I don't know why). All that's left is for Daisy to give Tom the old heave-ho.

Then, on a scorching hot day at the end of summer, it all goes to hell. Gatsby and Nick go over to the Buchanan household for an incredibly awkward lunch. I'm not sure what the goal of this gathering was (maybe Daisy and Gatsby were ready to wave their love flag under Tom's nose), but I think part of the reason was that Daisy wanted to show Gatsby her daughter. She parades her out for just a moment, as if to say, "Remember this small human I birthed?" Apparently, Gatsby needed the reality check: "Afterward, he kept looking at the child in surprise. I don't think he had ever really believed in its existence before" (p. 117).

Once they're all seated at the table, Gatsby and Daisy do their very worst impression of two people who don't care about each other. Tom isn't the shiniest coin in the piggy bank, but it takes him exactly 5 minutes to ascertain what's going on between them . . . and he doesn't like it one bit.

He doesn't call them out right away, but when the party moves into a stifling suite at the Plaza Hotel, Tom hoists himself onto his self-righteous soapbox.
"I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife. Well, if that's the idea you can count me out. . . . . Nowadays people begin by sneering at family life and family institutions, and next they'll throw everything overboard and have intermarriage between black and white." (p. 130)
WHAT is the world coming to?

But, no matter, because Daisy is leaving Tom. And Gatsby gets a little overconfident and decides to add that she never loved Tom in the first place. Right, Daisy? RIGHT, DAISY?

Crickets. Get it?
Then Tom gets a little overconfident and points out that Gatsby is involved in nefarious activities and is a fraud in general . . . and Daisy shrinks further and further into herself as she realizes that NEITHER of the men she loves are going to provide her the life of marital bliss she so badly wants.

Thus ends the most uncomfortable social gathering in the history of ever. And Nick tells us "that unfamiliar yet recognizable look was back again in Gatsby's face" (p. 134). NICK! What did I tell you about saying things that aren't things? Maybe you should rethink your future as a narrator.



    It bugged me quite a lot. Also, I haven't read GG since high school, so this is bringing back bad memories, madam.

  2. So many lulz in here. Gatsby is metro! Of course he is. 

  3. This post is lol! That second gif is exactly how I felt after Nick's unremembered line. I was like, WTF does that mean!? *shaking book*

  4. Well,  I obviously couldn't concentrate on anything you said after the Cry Baby picture, but I'm sure it was very insightful and funny! Young Johnny Depp... Mmmmm...

  5. I should have KNOWN that would happen. I sabotaged myself...but it was worth it.

  6. And the worst part is that I suspect we will NEVER know what he was talking about!

  7. Oh no! Go away, bad memories! Be replaced with good memories of colorful shirts.

    Over at the read-along, Wallace was saying that it was Gatsby's way of showing Daisy what she COULD have had if she had just been more patient and not married Tom. I guess that's a pretty good reason to cry, in the end.