Saturday, October 5, 2013
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
I never read this in high school, and with the new movie that came out last year, and has gotten rave reviews, I knew that if I were to see the movie I would first have to read the book.
It took awhile, as it was published in 1925 and the writing style was quite different. And it was told in the voice of Nick, distant cousin to Daisy Buchanan. And it's told in a reminiscent way as well, with some things chronologically out of order in order to place a backstory where it would most make sense. Lots and lots of descriptions of events, but not overdoing it on physical descriptions of characters, so I didn't have a very sharp imagination image of everyone; but I think that's because once the description was given, it was assumed you wouldn't really need it again.
This is a tragic love story....Daisy meets Jay, they fall in love. Jay goes off to war, and not to mention he is not of the same social standing as Daisy they really couldn't have realistically gotten married. Daisy marries Tom. Jay comes back-and into money-and becomes a very influential up and coming character whom no one really knows anything about but is always throwing lavish parties with no particular guest list.
It's the roaring 20's and everything is all about high society. Another problem is affairs. So many stories wouldn't be written at all if it weren't for the fact that married companions wander off to greener pastures. I don't know what it is with Tom, but I think he takes Daisy for granted, and doesn't think he'd ever really lose her so although not confirmed, I believe personally that he has "wandered" just about everywhere and that is my hunch about why they've moved so many times. Daisy, while always the "rich girl" has a deep desire to be loved. She had one such romance, and I think when Tom is distant, she goes back mentally to Jay and thinks that "this would never happen if I were with Jay." And then the opportunity presents itself. I think both Jay and Daisy have a tainted view of what things are supposed to be like. I think that in his time away from Daisy, Jay has built her up to an idolized Goddess that is so perfect, there's no way she was a real person anymore.
When many things are misconstrued, misunderstood and possibly misinformed on purpose and Jay dies, despite all the people who surrounded him in life, no one really is there in his death. It's really sad. That most of his life was superficial. And while he was optimistic, I can't help but feel that the way he came into money was by shady ways and that he never thought that it would catch up to him. And while that part didn't, he tragically got involved in something he had nothing to do with. I think Daisy gave him a sense of invincibility that destiny was him and Daisy together and as that was happening and as long as Daisy loved him, nothing could go wrong.
Nick learned a lot by observing these people, including a brief love tryst with professional golfer Jordan Baker (I had no idea that Jordan was being used as a female back then!) that falls apart for circumstances that are not favorable. Nick learns that everyone, EVERYONE needs friends. At least one genuine friend. And that doing what's right is not what everyone is interested in doing. I think he learns that obtaining false wealth in order to impress someone is not worth it. He probably learns that you should be extra cautious on who you marry if you truly want to be happy, you should really both be in love with each other on the same level. I think he also learns that the glamorized like of the "Hamptons" if you will, are also not quite all they're hyped up to be. That pastures can be just as green where ever you spring up as anywhere else.
I sometimes wonder about Tom and Daisy. I wonder if what they went through, both losing their lovers within days of each other and realizing how much they had lost each other, if perhaps maybe would bring a renewed commitment to each other. I wonder if Tom finally realized that he wasn't giving Daisy everything he could and if he DID maybe he'd get a WHOLE LOT in return from her.
Here is a link I came across with some interesting thoughts on things we could learn from Gatsby:
One that I particularly liked was the part about trying to fit in where you don't necessarily belong-or even need to fit in with. It reminds me of a statement made once that said "Be grateful that the choices you make will not allow you to fit in where you don't belong." It was a statement addressed in a religious service and it was directed at teenagers who had chosen particularly high moral standards. And were possibly feeling a little isolated by those choices because the weren't exactly "popular". But seriously, if you evaluate your goals in life, you really can't afford to waste time trying to fit in with a certain populace who won't help you achieve those goals. It's like trying to become a pro-football player while only taking ballet lessons. It just won't happen.
Anyhow, it was a good read, and I enjoyed it and the lessons learned. Now I have checked out the first movie of The Great Gatsby starring Mira Sorvino, Toby Stephens, and Paul Rudd in 2000 to watch while I wait for the Leonardo DiCaprio version to cycle my way and can compare the two :-)