Saturday, January 28, 2012

Great Gatsby Read-Along Week 4: My heart, it hurts

So here's the deal, guys. I finished The Great Gatsby, and then I loaned it to a friend. So I no longer have the book, which means all I have are my notes, which means this might be a short post.

Myrtle died violently. I remember that much. This was EXTRA tragic because she thought she was running toward Tom's car and a possible escape from her husband (whose suspicions of her infidelity had driven him to The Bad Place). Instead, she ran right into the path of Gatsby's car, with Daisy at the wheel. Oh, poetic justice . . . you are poetic and just but also kind of a jerk.

I know Daisy was distraught because she had just realized she would have to stay with Tom and actually face the consequences of her choices (and by that I mean her choice to marry Tom . . . she gets away with everything else), but she didn't even stop after she hit Myrtle. And then she let Gatsby take the fall for her by saying HE was driving. And THEN she conspired with Tom to tell Mr. Wilson that it was Gatsby who had been romanticizing Myrtle. So it's HER FAULT Gatsby got shot.
"They were careless people, Tom and Daisythey smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." (p. 179) 
I wanted to like Daisy (probably because Gatsby did), but she turned out to be just a bored housewife (with no actual homemaking or child-rearing responsibilities). A poor little rich girl. She didn't even have a great reason for giving up on Gatsby and marrying Tom. She was just young and immature and wanted her life to happen without delay. She made her choices and then blamed everyone else for her unhappiness.

Gatsby was a flawed character, absolutely . . . but I can't help but see him as a victim. A victim first of his poor social standing, then of his hopeless love for Daisy, then of Wolfshiem (who I suspect took advantage of the vulnerable young Gatsby), and, ultimately, of Tom and Daisy's selfishness. He had a foolish need, even at the last, to believe that Daisy never loved another man. But his desperation to believe the best of her finally gave way to harsh reality.
"He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass." (p. 161)
"He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night." (p. 180)
So, Fitzy, well done I guess. You kind of ruined my day.



  1. "He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves
    and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw
    the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass."


    Which is weird, because NORWEGIAN WOOD PARALLEL. With Toru at first being like "Spring is GROSS damnit; I hate everything" and then being like "Oh, the breeze softly caresses my cheek; what a beautiful world we live in." So maybe if Gatsby had been able to hang in there, all would've turned out ok. But then it wouldn't have been poetic and such.

  2. As the Crowe Flies and ReadsJanuary 28, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Oh, so sad, so true.  The farther I get from my one reading of Gatsby earlier this month, the more my sympathies shift toward him. 

  3. I wholeheartedly believe Gatsby would have turned around if given the chance. But he was struck down in his swimming pool. Oh, the injustice of it all!

  4. I still talk to a lot of people who don't sympathize with Gatsby or who think his intentions toward Daisy were shady. I can't understand that matter how hard I try. I just want to sit in his library and hug him while he cries.