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THE GREAT GATSBY
Transcript of THE GREAT GATSBY
F. Scott Fitzgerald
THE GREAT GATSBY
My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this Middle Western city for three generations. The Carraways are something of a clan, and we have a tradition that we're descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch, but
the actual founder of my line was my grandfather's brother, who came here in fifty-one, sent a substitute to the Civil War
, and started the wholesale hardware business that my father carries on to-day.
I never saw this great-uncle, but I'm supposed to look like him-with special reference to the rather hard-boiled painting that hangs in father's office I graduated from New Haven in 1915, just a quarter of a century after my father, and a little later I participated in that delayed Teutonic migration known as the Great War.
I decided to go East and learn the bond business. [...] Father agreed to finance me for a year, and after various delays I came East, permanently, I thought, in the spring of twenty-two. (p. 121-122)
It was a matter of chance that I should have rented a house in one of the strangest communities in North America. It was on that slender riotous island which extends itself due east of New York - and where there are, among other natural curiosities, two unusual formations of land.
Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and separated only by a courtesy bay,
jut out into the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound. (p. 122-123)
The one [huge place] on my right was a colossal affair by any standard - it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a
marble swimming pool
, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby's mansion. Or, rather, as I didn't know Mr. Gatsby, it was a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name. (p. 123)
Across the courtesy bay the
of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans. Daisy was my second cousin once removed, and I'd known Tom in college. And just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago.
Her husband, among various physical accomplishments, had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven - a national figure in a way, one of
those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax
. (p. 123)
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’
I'm inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores.
Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction - Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament" - it was
an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.
Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
Great Neck ----- Manhasset Neck or Cow Neck Peninsula
The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise-she leaned slightly forward with a conscientious expression-then she laughed, an absurd, charming little laugh, and I laughed too and came forward into the room.
"I'm p-paralyzed with happiness."
She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she had. She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the balancing girl was Baker. (I've heard it said that
Daisy's murmur was only to make people lean toward her
; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)
I looked back at my cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice.
It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again.
Her face was
sad and lovely
with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered "Listen," a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in
the next hour. (p. 125)
He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body - he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage - a cruel body. (p. 124)
Tom is profound
"Civilization's going to pieces," broke out Tom violently. "I've gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read '
The Rise of the Colored Empires'
by this man Goddard?"
"Why, no," I answered, rather surprised by his tone.
"Well, it's a fine book, and
everybody ought to read it.
The idea is if we don't look out the
white race will be...will be utterly submerged. It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved
Tom's getting very profound
," said Daisy, with an expression of unthoughtful sadness. "He reads deep books with long words in them. What was that word we-"
"Well, these books are all scientific," insisted Tom, glancing at her impatiently. "This fellow has worked out the whole thing.
It's up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.
"We've got to beat them down," whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun. (p. 127)
Daisy is a sad woman
"It'll show you how I've gotten to feel about... things. Well,
she [daughter] was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where.
I woke up out of the ether with
an utterly abandoned feeling
, and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. 'All right,' I said, 'I'm glad it's a girl. And
I hope she'll be a fool... that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.'
I think everything's terrible anyhow
," she went on in a convinced way. "Everybody thinks so... the most advanced people. And I know.
I've been everywhere and seen everything and done everything
." Her eyes flashed around her in a defiant way, rather like Tom's, and she laughed with thrilling scorn. "Sophisticated... God, I'm sophisticated!" (p. 130)
The younger of the two was a stranger to me. She was extended full length at her end of the divan, completely
, and with her
chin raised a little
, as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall. If she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it - indeed,
I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbed her by coming in
At any rate, Miss Baker's lips fluttered, she nodded at me almost imperceptibly, and then quickly tipped her head back again - the object she was balancing had obviously tottered a little and given her something of a fright.
Again a sort of apology arose to my lips
. Almost any exhibition of complete self-sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from me. (p. 125)
His voice faded off and Tom glanced impatiently around the garage. Then I heard footsteps on a stairs, and in a moment the
thickish figure of a woman
blocked out the light from the office door. She was in the
and faintly stout, but she carried her surplus flesh sensuously as some women can.
Her face, above a spotted dress of dark blue crépe-de-chine, contained no facet or gleam of beauty, but there was an immediately perceptible
vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smouldering
. She smiled slowly and, walking through her husband
as if he were a ghost
, shook hands with Tom, looking him flush in the eye. Then she wet her lips, and
without turning around spoke to her husband
in a soft, coarse voice: "Get some chairs, why don't you, so somebody can sit down." (p. 134)
Myrtle at the apartment
Mrs. Wilson had
changed her costume
some time before, and was now attired in an
elaborate afternoon dress of cream-colored chiffon, which gave out a continual rustle as she swept about the room
. With the influence of the dress
her personality had also undergone a change.
that had been so remarkable in the garage was
converted into impressive hauteur.
Her laughter, her gestures, her assertions became
more violently affected moment by moment,
the room grew smaller around her, until she seemed to be revolving on a noisy, creaking pivot through the smoky air. (p. 137)
Tom is lying
Catherine leaned close to me and whispered in my ear:
"Neither of them can stand the person they're married to."
"Can't stand them." She looked at Myrtle and then at Tom. "What I say is, why go on living with them if they can't stand them? If I was them I'd get a divorce and get married to each other right away."
"Doesn't she like Wilson either?"
The answer to this was unexpected. It came from Myrtle, who had overheard the question, and it was violent and obscene.
"You see," cried Catherine triumphantly. She lowered her voice again.
"It's really his wife that's keeping them apart. She's a Catholic, and they don't believe in divorce."
Daisy was not a Catholic, and I was a little shocked at the
elaborateness of the lie
Myrtle thinks that she never loved George
"Well, I married him," said Myrtle, ambiguously. "And that's the difference between your case and mine."
"Why did you, Myrtle?" demanded Catherine.
"Nobody forced you to."
"I married him because
I thought he was a gentleman
," she said finally. "I thought he knew something about breeding, but
he wasn't fit to lick my shoe.
You were crazy about him for a while,
" said Catherine.
"Crazy about him!" cried Myrtle incredulously. "Who said I was crazy about him? I never was any more crazy about him than I was about that man there."
She pointed suddenly at me, and every one looked at me accusingly. I tried to show by my expression that I had played no part in her past.
The only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew right away I made a mistake.
He borrowed somebody's best suit to get married in, and never even told me about it, and the man came after it one day when he was out." She looked around to see who was listening. " 'Oh, is that your suit?' I said. 'This is the first I ever heard about it.' But I gave it to him and then I lay down and cried to beat the band all afternoon." (p. 139-140)
THE VALLEY OF ASHES
About half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is
a valley of ashes - a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens;
where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. [...]
But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg.
The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic - their irises are one yard high.
They look out of
, but, instead, from a pair of enormous
which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness, or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground. (p. 133)
— Repairs. GEORGE B. WILSON. Cars bought and sold. - and I followed Tom inside.
The interior was unprosperous and bare; the only car visible was the dust-covered wreck of a Ford which crouched in a dim corner. It had occurred to me that this shadow of a garage must be a blind, and that sumptuous and romantic apartments were concealed overhead, when the proprietor himself appeared in the door of an office, wiping his hands on a piece of waste. He was a blond,
spiritless man, anaemic, and faintly handsome
. When he saw us a damp gleam of hope sprang into his light blue eyes.
"Hello, Wilson, old man," said Tom, slapping him jovially on the shoulder. "How's business?"
"I can't complain," answered Wilson unconvincingly. "
When are you going to sell me that car?
" (p. 134)
Within and without
I wanted to get out and walk southward toward the park through the soft twilight, but each time I tried to go I became entangled in some wild, strident argument which pulled me back, as if with ropes, into my chair. Yet high over the city
our line of yellow windows
must have contributed their share of human secrecy to
the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life
. (p. 140)
Tom is aggressive
Some time toward midnight Tom Buchanan and Mrs. Wilson stood face to face
discussing, in impassioned voices, whether Mrs. Wilson had any right to mention Daisy's name.
"Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!" shouted Mrs. Wilson. "I'll say it whenever I want to! Daisy! Dai-"
Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand.
Then there were bloody towels upon the bath-room floor, and women's voices scolding, and high over the confusion a long broken wail of pain. Mr. McKee awoke from his doze and started in a daze toward the door. When he had gone half way he turned around and stared at the scene - his wife and Catherine scolding and consoling as they stumbled here and there among the crowded furniture with articles of aid, and the despairing figure on the couch, bleeding fluently, and trying to spread a copy of "Town Tattle" over the tapestry scenes of Versailles. Then Mr. McKee turned and continued on out the door.
Taking my hat from the chandelier, I followed.
"Come to lunch some day," he suggested, as we groaned down in the elevator.
"Keep your hands off the lever," snapped the elevator boy.
"I beg your pardon," said Mr. McKee with dignity, "I didn't know I was touching it."
"All right," I agreed, "I'll be glad to."
. . . I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands.
"Beauty and the Beast . . . Loneliness . . . Old Grocery Horse . . . Brook'n Bridge . . . ."
Then I was lying half asleep in the cold lower level of the Pennsylvania Station, staring at the morning Tribune, and waiting for the four o'clock train. (p. 140-141)
"I like to come," Lucille said. "
I never care what I do, so I always have a good time.
When I was here last I tore my gown on a chair, and he asked me my name and address -
inside of a week I got a package from Croirier's with a new evening gown in it
"Did you keep it?" asked Jordan.
"Sure I did. I was going to wear it tonight, but it was too big in the bust and had to be altered. It was gas blue with lavender beads.
Two hundred and sixty-five dollars
"There's something funny about a fellow that'll do a thing like that," said the other girl eagerly.
"He doesn't want any trouble with anybody
"Who doesn't?" I inquired.
"Gatsby. Somebody told me-"
The two girls and Jordan leaned together confidentially.
Somebody told me they thought he killed a man once
." A thrill passed over all of us. The three Mr. Mumbles bent forward and listened eagerly.
"I don't think it's so much that," argued Lucille sceptically; "
it's more that he was a German spy during the war.
One of the men nodded in confirmation.
I heard that from a man who knew all about him, grew up with him in Germany
," he assured us positively. (p. 144)
A stout, middle-aged man, with
enormous owl-eyed spectacles
sitting somewhat drunk
on the edge of a great table, staring with unsteady concentration at the shelves of books. As we entered he wheeled excitedly around and examined Jordan from head to foot.
"What do you think?" he demanded impetuously.
He waved his hand toward the book-shelves.
"About that. As a matter of fact you needn't bother to ascertain. I ascertained. They're real."
"Who brought you?" he demanded. "Or did you just come? I was brought. Most people were brought."
Jordan looked at him alertly, cheerfully, without answering.
"I was brought by a woman named Roosevelt," he continued. "Mrs. Claud Roosevelt. Do you know her? I met her somewhere last night.
I've been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library."
"A little bit, I think. I can't tell yet. I've only been here an hour. Did I tell you about the books? They're real. They're-"
"You told us." (p. 145-146)
At a lull in the entertainment the man looked at me and smiled.
"Your face is familiar," he said, politely. "Weren't you in the Third Division during the war?"
"Why, yes. I was in the Ninth Machine-gun Battalion."
"I was in the Seventh Infantry until June nineteen-eighteen. I knew I'd seen you somewhere before."
We talked for a moment about some wet, gray little villages in France. Evidently he lived in this vicinity, for he told me that he had just bought a hydroplane, and was going to try it out in the morning.
"Want to go with me,
? Just near the shore along the Sound."
Any time that suits you best."
It was on the tip of my tongue to ask his name when Jordan looked around and smiled.
"Having a gay time now?" she inquired.
"Much better." I turned again to my new acquaintance. "This is an unusual party for me. I haven't even seen the host. I live over there-" I waved my hand at the invisible hedge in the distance, "and this man Gatsby sent over his chauffeur with an invitation."
For a moment he looked at me as if he failed to understand.
"I'm Gatsby," he said suddenly. (p. 146-147)
He smiled understandingly - much more than understandingly.
It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance
in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced - or seemed to face - the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. Precisely at that point it vanished - and I was looking at an elegant young rough-neck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd. Some time before he introduced himself
I'd got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care.
There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars. At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his two motor-boats slit the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam. On week-ends his
became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like
a brisk yellow bug
to meet all trains.
And on Mondays eight servants
, including an extra gardener, toiled all day with mops and scrubbing-brushes and hammers and garden-shears,
repairing the ravages of the night before.
Nick's first party
I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house
I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited - they went there.
They got into automobiles which bore them out to Long Island, and somehow they ended up at Gatsby's door. Once there they were introduced by somebody who knew Gatsby, and after that they conducted themselves according to the rules of behavior associated with amusement parks.
Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all
, came for the party with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission. (p. 143)
People just like the parties
In love with Jordan?
The nature of Mr. Tostoff's composition eluded me, because just as it began my eyes fell on Gatsby, standing alone on the marble steps and looking from one group to another with
His tanned skin was drawn attractively tight on his face and his short hair looked as though it were trimmed every day.
I could see nothing sinister about him.
I wondered if the fact that
he was not drinking
helped to set him off from his guests, for it seemed to me that he grew more correct as the fraternal hilarity increased. (p. 148)
Lists people who attend Gatsby's parties
Nick goes to New York with Gatsby who tells him about his past
"Suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself."
"I hope I never will," she answered. "I hate careless people. That's why I like you."
Her gray, sun-strained eyes stared straight ahead, but she had deliberately shifted our relations, and
for a moment I thought I loved her.
But I am slow-thinking and full of interior rules that act as brakes on my desires, and I knew that first I had to get myself definitely out of that tangle back home. I'd been writing letters once a week and signing them: "Love, Nick," and all I could think of was how, when that certain girl played tennis, a faint mustache of perspiration appeared on her upper lip. Nevertheless there was a vague understanding that had to be tactfully broken off before I was free.
Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.
"I'll tell you the God's truth." His right hand suddenly ordered divine retribution to stand by. "I am the son of some wealthy people in the Middle West - all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford, because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a familiar tradition."
He looked at me sideways - and I knew why Jordan Baker had believed he was lying. He hurried the phrase "educated at Oxford", or swallowed it, or chocked on it, as though it had bothered him before. And with this doubt, his whole statement fell to pieces, and I wondered if there wasn't something little sinister about him, after all.
In New York, a policeman pulls Gatsby over for speeding
Nick and Gatsby have lunch with Mr. Wolfsheim who gives Nick the impression that the source of Gatsby’s wealth might be unsavory
They meet Tom
"Have you known Gatsby for a long time?"
"Several years," he answered in a gratified way. "I made the pleasure of his acquaintance just after the war. But I knew I had discovered a n of fine breeding after I talked with him an hour. I said to myself: 'There's the kind of man you'd like to take home and introduce to your mother and sister'." He paused. "I see you're looking at my coff bottons." I hadn't looking at them, but I did now.
They were composed of oddly familiar pieces of ivory.
"Finest specimens of human molars," he informed me.
Jordan tells Nick what he wanted of her in the party
Nick finds out that Gatsby and Daisy were in love before he went to the war
Daisy marries Tom
When I came opposite her house that morning her white roadster was beside the curb, and she was sitting in it with a lieutenant I had never seen before. They were so engrossed in each other that she didn't see me until I was five feet away.
I saw them in Santa Barbara when they came back, and I thought I'd never seen a girl so mad about her husband. If he left the room for a minute she'd look around uneasily, and say: "Where's Tom gone?" and wear the most abstracted expression until she saw him coming in the door. She used to sit on the sand with his head in her lap by the hour, rubbing her fingers over his eyes and looking at him with unfathomable delight. It was touching to see them together. it made you laugh in a hushed, fascinated way. That was in August. A week after I left Santa Barbara Tom ran into a wagon on the Ventura road one night, and ripped a front wheel off his car. The girl who was with him got into the papers, too, because her arm was broken-she was one of the chambermaids in the Santa Barbara Hotel.
The next April Daisy had her little girl, and they went to France for a year. I saw them one spring in Cannes, and later in Deauville, and then they came back to Chicago to settle down.
Nick agrees with Gatsby's request
Gatsby offers Nick a work on his business
"I thought you didn't, if you'll pardon my-You see, I carry on a little business on the side, a sort of side line, you understand. And I thought that if you don't make very much-You're selling bonds, aren't you, old sport?"
"Well, this would interest you. It wouldn't take up much of your time and you might pick up a nice bit of money. It happens to be a rather confidential sort of thing."
I realize now that under different circumstances that conversation might have been one of the crises of my life. But, because the offer was obviously and tactlessly for a service to be rendered, I had no choice except to cut him off there.
"I've got my hands full," I said. " I'm much obliged but I couldn't take on any more work."
Gatsby meets Daisy
He is nervous
RAIN - CLOCK - GREEN LIGHT
She turned her head as there was a light dignified knocking at the front door. I went out and opened it. Gatsby, pale as death, with his hands plunged like weights in his coat pockets, was standing in a puddle of water glaring tragically into my eyes.
With his hands still in his coat pockets he stalked by me into the hall, turned sharply as if he were on a wire, and disappeared into the living-room. It wasn't a bit funny. Aware of the loud beating of my own heart I pulled the door to against the increasing rain.
For half a minute there wasn't a sound. Then from the living-room I heard a sort of choking murmur and part of a laugh, followed by Daisy's voice on a clear artificial note: "I certainly am awfully glad to see you again."
The Roaring Twenties
United States, Canada, and United Kingdom
Cultural edge in New York City, Chicago, Paris, Berlin, London, Los Angeles and many other major cities
Social, artistic, and cultural dynamism
The real story about Gatsby is revealed
James Gatz-that was really, or at least legally, his name. He had changed it at the age of seventeen and at the specific moment that witnessed the beginning of his career-when he saw Dan Cody's yacht drop anchor over the most insidious flat on Lake Superior. It was James Gatz who had been loafing along the beach that afternoon in a torn green jersey and a pair of canvas pants, but it was already Jay Gatsby who borrowed a rowboat, pulled out to the Tuolomee, and informed Cody that a wind might catch him and break him up in half an hour.
I suppose he'd had the name ready for a long time, even then. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people-his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God-a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that-and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.
Tom visits Gatsby
Tom invites Gatsby to have dinner with him and Gatsby accept
For several weeks I didn't see him or hear his voice on the phone-mostly I was in New York, trotting around with Jordan and trying to ingratiate myself with her senile aunt-but finally I went over to his house one Sunday afternoon. I hadn't been there two minutes when somebody brought Tom Buchanan in for a drink. I was startled, naturally, but the really surprising thing was that it hadn't happened before.
They were a party of three on horseback-Tom and a man named Sloane and a pretty woman in a brown riding-habit, who had been there previously.
"I'm delighted to see you," said Gatsby, standing on his porch.
"I'm delighted that you dropped in."
As though they cared!
"My God, I believe the man is coming," said Tom. "Doesn't he know she doesn't want him?"
"She says she does want him."
"She has a big dinner party and he won't know a soul there." He frowned. "I wonder where in the devil he met Daisy. By God, I may be old-fashioned in my ideas, but women run around too much these days to suit me. They meet all kinds of crazy fish."
Suddenly Mr. Sloane and the lady walked down the steps and mounted their horses.
"Come on," said Mr. Sloane to Tom, "we're late. We've got to go." And then to me: "Tell him we couldn't wait, will you?
Large-scale diffusion and use of automobiles, telephones, motion pictures, and electricity
Unprecedented industrial growth
Accelerated consumer demand and aspirations,
Significant changes in lifestyle and culture
Media focus on celebrities: sports heroes and movie stars
Women won the right to vote for the first time
Tom and Daisy go to Gatsby's party
Nick disapproves the revelry
Gatsby wants to recreate the past with Daisy
Tom was evidently perturbed at Daisy's running around alone, for on the following Saturday night he came with her to Gatsby's party. Perhaps his presence gave the evening its peculiar quality of oppressiveness-it stands out in my memory from Gatsby's other parties that summer. There were the same people, or at least the same sort of people, the same profusion of champagne, the same many-colored, many-keyed commotion, but I felt an unpleasantness in the air, a pervading harshness that hadn't been there before. Or perhaps I had merely grown used to it, grown to accept West Egg as a world complete in itself, with its own standards and its own great figures, second to nothing because it had no consciousness of being so, and now I was looking at it again, through Daisy's eyes. It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment.
He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: "I never loved you." After she had obliterated four years with that sentence they could decide upon the more practical measures to be taken. One of them was that, after she was free, they were to go back to Louisville and be married from her house-just as if it were five years ago.
"I wouldn't ask too much of her," I ventured. "You can't repeat the past."
"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
"I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before," he said, nodding determinedly. "She'll see."
The Lost Generation
The "Lost Generation" was the generation that came of age during World War I
Popularized by Ernest Hemingway
This generation included distinguished artists such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, John Dos Passos, Waldo Peirce, Isadora Duncan, Abraham Walkowitz, Alan Seeger, and Erich Maria Remarque
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
Born on September 24, 1896, in Saint Paul, Minnesota
Parents: Mollie McQuillan and Edward Fitzgerald
Early interest in literature.
At age of 13 he saw his first piece of writing appear in print—a detective story published in the school newspaper.
Newman School: Father Sigourney Fay noticed his incipient talent with the written word and encouraged him to pursue his literary ambitions.
1917: he dropped out of school to join the U.S. Army
'The Romantic Egotist': publisher rejected the novel; reviewer noted its originality and encouraged Fitzgerald to submit more work in the future
Second lieutenant in Alabama
Zelda Sayre (1900–1948)
Fitzgerald and Zelda were married in New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral. Their daughter and only child, Frances Scott "Scottie" Fitzgerald, was born on October 26, 1921.
Short stories for such magazines as The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's Weekly, and Esquire
Stories and novels to Hollywood studios
In 1937, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood. Besides writing, he also started to get involved in the film industry
Fitzgerald and Zelda became estranged; she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and lived in mental institutions on the East Coast, while he lived with his lover Sheilah Graham in Hollywood
1939 - 1940: Pat Hobby, in a sequence of 17 short stories
Fitzgerald had been an alcoholic since his college days, and became notorious during the 1920s for his extraordinarily heavy drinking, leaving him in poor health by the late 1930s
Fitzgerald had died of a heart attack, on December 21, 1940, at age 44, in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Legacy: Fitzgerald 'was better than he knew, for in fact and in the literary sense he invented a generation ... He might have interpreted them and even guided them, as in their middle years they saw a different and nobler freedom threatened with destruction'
This Side of Paradise (1920)
Life and morality of post-World War I youth.
The Beautiful and Damned (1922)
The Eastern elite during the Jazz Age.
The Great Gatsby* (1925)
Tender Is the Night (1934)
The rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychoanalyst, and his wife, Nicole, who is also one of his patients.
The Love of the Last Tycoon – originally The Last Tycoon – (unfinished, published posthumously, 1941)
A Roman à clef inspired by the life of film producer Irving Thalberg, on whom protagonist Monroe Stahr is based. The story follows Stahr's rise to power in Hollywood, and his conflicts with rival Pat Brady, a character based on studio head Louis B. Mayer
Short story collections
Flappers and Philosophers (1921)
Tales of the Jazz Age (1922)
All the Sad Young Men (1926)
Taps at Reveille (1935)
The Vegetable, or From President to Postman (1923) - play
The Crack-Up (1945) - collection of essays, notebook excerpts, and letters
Afternoon of an Author (1957) – stories and essays
Babylon Revisited and Other Stories (1960)
The Pat Hobby Stories (1962)
The Basil and Josephine Stories (1973)
The Apprentice Fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1965)
Bits of Paradise (1974)
Poems 1911-1940 (1981)
The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1989)
The Price Was High: Fifty Uncollected Stories (1995)
Novels and Stories 1920–1922 (2000)
Before Gatsby: The First Twenty-Six Stories (2001)
Notable Short Stories
"Bernice Bobs Her Hair" (1920)
"Head and Shoulders" (1920)
"The Ice Palace" (1920)
"The Offshore Pirate" (1920)
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (1921)
"The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" (1922)
"Winter Dreams" (1922)
"The Baby Party" (1925)
"The Rich Boy" (1926)
"The Freshest Boy" (1928)
"The Bridal Party" (1930)
"A New Leaf" (1931)
"Babylon Revisited" (1931)
"Crazy Sunday" (1932)
Main theme: a description of American society during the Jazz Age
Stories can be read for their allegorical qualities: alcoholism, mental illness and marital issues in contrast with glamorous public image
Clear and crisp sentence structure
Techniques: diction, similes, syntax, and rhetorical strategies
In the hottest day of summer, Gatsby, Nick and Jordan have dinner in Daisy and Tom’s house
They go to the city and in a hotel a discussion start between Gatsby and Tom over the relationship between Daisy and Gatsby
“The next day was broiling, almost the last, certainly the warmest, of the summer.” (p. 183)
“I can’t say anything in this house, old sport.”
“She’s got an indiscreet voice,” I remarked. “It’s full of...” I hesitated.
“Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly.
That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money- that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it… high in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl. (p. 187)
“What kind of a row are you trying to cause in my house anyhow?” (p.192)
“Your wife doesn’t love you,” said Gatsby. “She’s never loved you. She loves me.”
“You must be crazy!” exclaimed Tom automatically.
Gatsby sprang to his feet, vivid with excitement.
“She never loved you, do you hear?” he cried. “She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake, but in her heart she never loved an one except me!” (p.193)
“Who are you, anyhow?” broke out Tom. “You’re one of that bunch that hangs around with Meyer Wolfsheim- that much I happen to know. I’ve made a little investigation into your affairs- and I’ll carry it further tomorrow.”
“You can suit yourself about that, old sport.” said Gatsby steadily.
“Well, I tried to swing the wheel…” He broke off, and suddenly I guessed at the truth.
“Was Daisy driving?”
“Yes,” he said after a moment, “but of course I’ll say I was. You see, when we left New York she was very nervous and she thought it would be steady her to drive- and this woman rushed out at us just as we were passing a car coming the other way. It happened in a minute, but it seemed to me that she wanted to speak to us, thought we were somebody she knew. Well, first Daisy turned away from the woman toward the other car, and then she lost her nerve and turned back. The second my hand reached the wheel, I felt shock- it must have killed her instantly. (p.200)
It was this night that he told me the strong story of his youth with Dan Cody-told it to me because “Jay Gatsby” had broken up like glass against Tom’s hard malice, and the long secret extravaganza was played out. I think that he would have acknowledged anything now, without reserve, but he wanted to talk about Daisy. (p.202)
“She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby-nothing. He felt married to her, that was all.” (p.203)
For Daisy was young and her artificial world was redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery and orchestras which set the rhythm of the year, summing up the sadness and suggestiveness of life in new tunes. (p.204)
“It was nine o’clock when we finished breakfast and went out on the porch. The night had made a sharp difference in the weather and there was an autumn flavor in the air. The gardener, the last one of Gatsby’s former servants, came to the foot of the steps. (p.205)
We shook hands and I started away. Just before I reached the hedge I remembered something and turned around.
“They’re a rotten crowd,” I shouted across the lawn. “You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.” (p.205)
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed behind him, somewhere back…
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter-tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… and one fine morning…
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. (p.222)
"I’ll get somebody for you, Gatsby. Don’t worry. Just trust me and I’ll get somebody for you…” (p.211)
"After Gatsby's death the East was haunted for me like that, distorted beyond my eyes' power of correction."
"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."
United States dominance in world finance
Feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity and a break with traditions
Widespread use of technology
The period is also often referred to as the Jazz Age, because jazz music and dance became popular. The term "Jazz Age" was coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A nationwide constitutional ban on the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages
1920 - 1933
Drys X Wets
18th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution
21st Amendment to the U. S. Constitution
Prohibition in the U. S.