Oh, The Great Gatsby. This is one of those books that I didn’t read by choice; rather, it was my school’s required reading for this semester in English class. After hearing a bit about the Leonardo DiCaprio movie recently, my interest in Gatsby had been piqued a bit, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to really read the book. Well, now given no choice, I read it. I didn’t particularly like the book, but it wasn’t terrible either. For somebody who isn’t well versed in the culture of 1920’s America or Jazz, this book will probably be a confusing bore, as it was for me. With lots of reading between the lines and symbolism, this book is not one to be read for a straightforward tale; rather, you’ll find yourself needing to extrapolate hidden information just to get by and understand the point of the book. In the end, this isn’t a book that I would recommend to many.
The Great Gatsby was written in 1925, and it chronicles what life was like for the rich during the Roaring Twenties, where wealth and fortune abounded. Gatsby tells of parties, affairs, romance, and daily life for those who were a class above the rest. But, of course, the book is mainly about Gatsby. Told from the point of view of the main character Nick Carroway, The Great Gatsby relates the story of a man who wants nothing more in life than to reconnect with his love of five years prior, who now happens to be married to another man. Really, the whole thing is a bit confusing, but I’ll try my best. (If you want a perfect representation of the whole thing, then click here, but beware of spoilers.)
Nick moves to Long Island in New York, and he finds himself a neighbor to a rich and mysterious man named Jay Gatsby, who seems to be throwing extravagant parties every weekend. One day, Nick is invited to one of these parties, and he gets the chance to talk to Gatsby. As it turns out, Gatsby likes Nick and Nick is fascinated by Gatsby; the two become friends. Before long, Nick finds out that Gatsby is in love with Daisy Buchanan, one of Nick’s old friends who happens to live across the water (Gatsby lives on one island in the sound, and the Buchanans live on a nearby island). Gatsby has gone so far as to purchase this home solely and specifically because Daisy is just across the water; yet, he never has the courage to reach out for her.
Daisy doesn’t know that Gatsby lives across from her. In fact, she has no idea what happened to him after they fell out of contact five years ago. He current husband, Tom, knows nothing of Gatsby either. One day, Nick helps Gatsby get together with Daisy without her husband knowing. As their old love rekindles, eventually Tom finds out and is enraged. He sees Daisy as a sort of possesion; he doesn’t love her. In fact, he’s having an affair as well! But because Daisy is his and he sees her as a material possession, he tries to break her and Gatsby apart.
From there, the story reaches a climax and a subsequent conclusion that I won’t tell you about because it actually contains the only interesting point that I found in the entire story. Really, the whole thing played out like some sort of daytime soap opera where everybody is rich and in love with everyone else. But, those were the times in the ’20’s, I suppose; who am I to judge it if I don’t understand it?
The Great Gatsby does a great job at bringing the tone and mood of the era to life, however. That’s one of the only real compliments I can dole out. When the times are good, the reader can feel it. When times are somber, the reader can feel it. Fitzgerald does a spectacular job at really bringing the emotions of the time to life: on the outside, everyone was happy as they danced to the Jazz music and drank their heartaches away, but on the inside, everyone was a hollow mess, and the things of the world never fulfilled them.
The other compliment I have is that Fitzgerald writes in a very artistic way. His writing has a great flow; it’s very smooth. It’s simply a shame that for as smooth as his delivery is, the content of the story was dull. Maybe I just have the wrong viewpoint; surely the book wasn’t targeted at an audience of people like me. The story wasn’t meant for me, and I can understand why. It’s not to say that others can’t find enjoyment from the book; it’s just to say that I didn’t.
In the end, The Great Gatsby is a good book if you enjoy soap operas or dramatic secretive romances. Other than that, there really isn’t much to be found in this classic. It’s certainly not the worst choice for required school reading; they could have done much worse. So, if you’re a teenager who gets stuck reading this, be glad that it’s Gatsby and not something else. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ve found this informative. Hit the like or the follow if you’ve enjoyed, and I’ll see you next time.