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The Great Gatsby Inquiry- Mary Suberu

Why does Gatsby fail to attain his American Dream?

Mary Suberu

on 1 October 2013

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby Inquiry- Mary Suberu

Mary Suberu
11 Honors English

Why does Gatsby fail to attain his American Dream?
Chapter 1-3
"-it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again." (2)
Chapter 4
"All these people came to Gatsby's house in the summer." (63)
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
"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..." (98)
The Great Gatsby
"...it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the the wake of his dreams." (2)
"-he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as i was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward-and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock." (20,21)
"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 whispering and the champagne and the stars." (39)
"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." (41)
"...Gatsby, standing alone on the marble steps and looked form one group to another with approving eyes." (50)
" 'And don't forget we're going up in hydroplane tomorrow morning, at nine o'clock.' " (53)
The quote describes Gatsby reaching towards the green light located at the end of Daisy's dock. This green light represents Gatsby's dream of being with Daisy. In the novel, Nick describes the light as "minute and far away." (2) making it seem almost unreachable due to its distance.
"...Gatsby's gorgeous car lurched up the rocky drive to my door..."(63)
"He was balancing himself on the dashboard of his car with that resourcefulness of movement that is so peculiarly American that comes, I suppose, with the absence of lifting work or rigid sitting in youth and, even more, with the formless grace of our nervous, sporadic games." (64)
" 'Look here, old sport,' " he broke out surprisingly, " 'What is your opinion of me, anyhow?' " (65)
" '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...' " (65)
"He hurried the phrase 'educated at oxford'... as if it had bothered him before...I wondered if there wasn't something a little sinister about him, after all." (65)
"I saw him opening a chest of rubies to ease, with their crimson-lighted depths, the gnawing of his broken heart." (67)
"...pocketing his souvenirs with satisfaction." (67)
" 'I didn't want you to think I was some nobody.' " (67)
" 'Mr. Carraway, this is my friend Mr. Wolfsheim." (69)
"The officer looked at Daisy while she was speaking, in a way that every young girl wants to be looked at some time, and because it seemed romantic to me I have remembered the incident ever since. His name was Jay Gatsby...even after I'd met him om Long Island I didn't realize it was the same man." (75)
"Gatsby bought the house so that Daisy would be just across the bay." (78)
" 'He wants to know,' continued Jordan, 'If you'll invite Daisy to your house some afternoon and then let him come over.' " (78)
"The modesty of the demand shook me. He had waiter five years and bought a mansion where he dispensed starlight to casual moths-so that he could 'come over' some afternoon to a stranger's garden."(78)
" 'He wants her to see the house,' she explained. 'And your house is right next door." (79)
The affiliation Gatsby has with Wolfsheim shows that the means Gatsby uses to achieve his dream is corrupt.
" '...I carry on a little business on the side, a sort of side line, you understand...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." (82,83)
" 'I want you and Daisy to come over to my house,' he said, 'I'd like to show her around' " (89)
" 'My house looks well doesn't it?' he demanded. 'See how the whole front of it catches the light.' " (89)
" '...It took me just three years to earn the money that bought it." (90)
"I think he hardly knew what he was saying, for when I asked him what business he was in he answered: 'That's my affair,' before he realized that it wasn't an appropriate reply." (90)
" 'I keep it full always full of interesting people, night and day. People who do interesting things. Celebrated people.' " (90)
"He hadn't once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes." (91)
"He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us...Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily." (92)
"Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one." (93)
"His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people-his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all." (98)
"Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed down upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace" (99)
"For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy's wing." (99)
"...the small Lutheran college of St. Olaf's in Southern Minnesota. He stayed there two weeks, dismayed at its ferocious indifference to the drums of his destiny, to destiny itself, and despising the janitor's work with which he was to pay his way through." (99)
" 'Who is this Gatsby anyhow?' demanded Tom suddenly. 'Some big bootlegger?'...'A lot of these newly rich people are just big bootleggers, you know." (107)
"He wanted nothing less of Daisy than she should go to Tom and say: 'I never loved you.' " (109)
" 'And she doesn't understand,' he said. 'She used to be able to understand. We'd sit for hours-' " (109)
" 'Can't repeat the past?' he cried incredulously. 'Why of course you can!' " (110)
"He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy." (110)
Chapter 7 8&9
" 'She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me.' " (130)
" 'Was Daisy driving?'
" 'Yes,' he said after a moment, " 'but of course I'll say I was.' " (143)
" 'You know, old sport, I've never used that pool all summer?' " (153)
" 'Jimmy always liked it better down East. He rose to his position in the East.' " (168)
"She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby-nothing." (149)
"...and Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes, and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor." (150)
"...the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams..." (180)
"...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 so close that he could fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him..." (180)
"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-to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther...And one fine morning-
So we beat on, boats against current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." (180)
From these quotes, one can surmise that the reasons for Gatsby's failure to achieve his dream are numerous. One of the misconceptions his failure can be attributed to is the mistake of basing his dreams on materialism. Before becoming rich, he strove to escape the life his parents lead...that of the poor. Thinking that this would be the answer to his dream and the way to win Daisy's heart, Gatsby pursues becoming rich using corrupt schemes.
" 'Her voice is full of money,' he said suddenly. (120)
Gatsby's fear of being viewed as a "nobody" plays an important role in the reason he chose to embark on chasing his dream of wealth. He wanted to break the cycle of poverty lead by his parents.
At the beginning of the book, Gatsby seems to be the only non-superficial character but as he becomes re-acquainted with Daisy, Gatsby's hunger and yearn for the approval of man (and Daisy) concerning his possessions is vivid. The wealth and riches Gatsby posses plays an enormous role in the corruption of his dream.
Gatsby lives in the past and refuses to realize that a life with Daisy is impossible. Not only because she is married, but also because of her superficial and frail personality. His fervent pursuit to repeat the past results in his obsession with Daisy, which finally leads him to his death.
When Gatsby confirms one of the reasons he is attracted to Daisy, the reader realizes that Gatsby is blinded (or deafened) by Daisy's voice which is described by Gatsby himself as being 'full of money'. Gatsby's dream of rekindling the love with Daisy is all based on materialism.
"There was a faint, barely perceptible movement of the water as the fresh flow from one end urged its way toward the drain at the other...a thin red circle in the water." (162)
Gatsby fails to realize that his dream and the chance to live the life he desires is already far behind him. He is so embedded in the past and focused on sharing a life with Daisy that he doesn't want to recognize that his dream is impossible.
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