Monday, May 20, 2013

The parties were bigger, the pace was faster, the buildings were higher, and the morals looser. - F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Here is my Great Gatsby review! In a somewhat new format....

Title: The Great Gatsby.

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Synopsis: Nick Carraway moves in next door to a mysterious man named Gatsby who is not all he seems.... It turns out that he is in love with Daisy Buchanan, the wife of one of Nick's friend (she is also Nick's cousin).

Rating: This is kind of complicated. I read the book for literature but I finished the book about two weeks before the discussion.... I figured that I probably wouldn't remember much of the story by the time the discussion came around, so I decided to read the book again.
The first time around, I rated it a 7/10 stars because I hadn't done very much background information yet and I didn't see past the whole affair plotline...
The second time I read it, however, I had done a bunch of background information and I could see past the affair plotline. So I rated it an 8/10.

What I didn't like/things you should know:
The main plotline revolves around several people having affairs.
Eheheh.... yeah.
So there's that, which I wasn't really fond of.
Then someone gets punched in the face.... and several people die in not so nice ways. But nothing is really described, so, it's alright, I suppose? Sort of?
There's also some bad words. One character takes God's name in vain over and over and over again... I just skipped that.
The writing style is sometimes hard to understand.

The good/my thoughts:
He starts a metaphor and carries it through to the end (something we were told to do in essay writing class).
Here is my favorite quote from the book: "The wind had blown off, leaving a loud bright night with wings beating in the trees and a persistent organ sound as the full bellows of the earth blew the frogs full of life.
There are so many things I could say about this book....
It is set in 1922. And let me just tell you.... 1900-1945 is MY time period. I LOVE learning about those 45 years. So much happened... so many changes.... the two World Wars.... It is just fascinating to me.
The Jazz Age falls right in the middle... Also known as The Roarin' Twenties. The 1920's, in which this book takes place. It was a time where women wore shorter skirts and cut their hair in bobs.
Jazz music made its first appearance and became quite popular.
People everywhere were dancing new dances, such as the Charleston. The Catholic Telegraph reported, "The music is sensuous, the female is only half dressed and the motions may not be described in a family newspaper. Suffice it to say that there are certain houses appropriate for such dances but these houses have been closed by the law."
The Great Gatsby really captures the mood of the Twenties, when everyone seemed to have money to spend on lavish parties and the latest fashions. Fitzgerald expertly showed this side of the lifestyle, which is what I caught on to the first time I read the book.
The second time, however, I caught on to the other side of the lifestyle, that Fitzgerald was trying to convey. The meaninglessness of the lifestyle that people lived in the '20's.
Fitzgerald, more than anyone, is able to tell us about the parties and the flip side of them. After publishing his first book (This Side of Paradise, I believe it is called) he became rich quick. After marrying his wife Zelda, they became the couple that described the Jazz Age.


(Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald)
They partied and Scott Fitzgerald became an alcoholic... They wasted a lot of their money and for the rest of his life, Fitzgerald had to rely on writing short stories, which  newspapers paid well for, to support his family, instead of writing novels like he wanted to.
Anyway, back to the Great Gatsby....
Fitzgerald really writes true to the time and manages to portray the time period wonderfully (after all, he was writing in the midst of this time period. The book was published in 1924).
The book takes place in the modernist writing period (from about 1890-1965) where authors experimented a lot with their writing. Like the art of the time (art deco; Picasso), the writing was often fragmented and confusing.
The characters were often not that heroic and more lost and... just not someone you would call a hero.
So it was with Fitzgerald's characters. They were preeeettty messed. Even Nick Carraway, the narrator. He describes himself as "one of the few honest people I know."
One thing all the characters, even honest Nick, have in common is that they aren't satisfied with what they have. I felt that this was a huge theme in the book.
(Minor spoilers:)
Gatsby grew up poor and then made a fortune in organized crime, selling bootlegged alcohol (during the prohibition). He wasn't satisfied with all the wealth he had and his big mansion. He wanted Daisy Buchanan, his true love from five years before who had since remarried. Daisy isn't satisfied in her marriage so she and Gatsby have an affair.
Meanwhile, Daisy's husband Tom is also having an affair because he isn't satisfied either. The woman he is having an affair with is also married - and not satisfied.
Jordan Baker, Nick's golfer girlfriend, lies to get what she wants, because she feels uncomfortable being in the wrong.
And Nick.... He moved east from the Midwest because he wasn't satisfied with small town living. In the end of the book, he ends up going back.
(End spoilers.)
No one is satisfied in this book. Like the Liberace book, I think this says a lot about life.
In Ecclesiastes King Solomon (the supposed author) says that tries doing all these things to fill the hole he has in his soul, but in the end they are all meaningless without God. He tries wealth, wisdom, building things, owning tons of stuff.... But everything is meaningless. Everything is meaningless without God. You can try and get an A on a paper, but if you aren't doing it for God, if you are doing it just for the A's sake, then it is meaningless. But if you are getting that A because you want to do your best for God (Colossians 3:23 says, "whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Which might be slightly out of context because Paul is talking to slaves in that passage... but I think it still applies to us), then that A is very meaningful.
The end of Ecclesiastes goes like this: "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."
I love it when everything I'm learning all goes together..... The Great Gatsby is about not being satisfied and about a meaningless lifestyle.... In Sunday School we've been going through Ecclesiastes, which is about the same thing. And for youth group, I just wrote a skit based off of the three individuals in the end of Luke 9 ("the cost of following Jesus" as the header says). Basically, Jesus asks three guys to come with him. One says, "Let me just bury my father. Then I'll come." Jesus replies, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another guy says, "I'll come with you, but let me first go say goodbye to my family."
Again Jesus says, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
Now, burying your dad and saying goodbye to your family are not bad things. Jesus' point is that if the cost of doing what He asks (even if it's a good thing like saying goodbye) is too much for you, you are not willing to follow Him.
Because being a follower of Jesus DOES cost. It can cost lives and friendships... and small things, which are, perhaps the hardest. For me, it is TV shows and youtube videos. A small example (because I've already tried to write this about four times and each time it gets too long) is Friends. It's a TV show. A sitcom from the '90's. It's hilarious and the characters really seem like you 'friends.' But every episode is so filled with raunchiness.... well, I knew that God didn't want me filling my brain with that sort of stuff, so, in the past two weeks, I've been working really hard on NOT watching Friends, because really, it is a horrible show. Never get hooked on it.
I've gotten so lost (and tired, it's 11:00PM now. I need to go to bed....) that I don't even know what my point was going to be. So I'm going to make up a new point:
Sin is attractive, and the characters in the Great Gatsby definitely fall for the bait (the same bait, I might add, that Eve fell for in the Garden of Eden so long ago). But it is all meaningless. Underneath all the 'fun' is nothing. It's empty. There's nothing left when you take away the parties and the secret affairs. Nothing but empty meaninglessness. It is the same today.
Without God, everything is meaningless.


  1. I have heard a lot about this story since they remade the movie. I've not really had a lot of interest in either the book or the older movie, but it is interesting to know your thoughts on it.
    I like stories like this, which show how meaningless all of our pursuits of wealth and happiness are. (Dorian Gray comes to mind.) Those who spend their whole lives looking for happiness in this world, or money, die in the end and without God it means nothing.

    Anyways, very nice review! I liked it.

    As for your debate about seeing Into Darkness in theatres, it is worth it just to see Benedict Cumberbach's name on the big screen. *Smirk* Just kidding...kind of.

  2. Hmm, the way you paint up this book makes me want to read it!

  3. I read The Great Gatsby a couple years ago when I was very sick and probably delirious, so I'm not sure I managed to absorb everything. I did enjoy it, though, from what I remember. You've certainly gone more in-depth than I have, and it's so cool to read all that background information about F.S.F. Excellent review, as always.

    I think I'm going to have to read this book again and get a clearer picture of what it's about. I'm not sure I'll see the movie...I love Leo DiCaprio, but I don't know if he's worth it. Carey Mulligan is also in it, right? Hmmm...Well, the book for sure is a must-read-again.

    (As an aside...the author looks rather baby-faced in the picture doesn't he? I sort of chuckled to myself.)