The Great Gatsby and A Farewell to Arms

The Great Gatsby
May 25, 2012
Major Characters
Nick Carraway is the narrator of the story.
Nick is thought of as a very honest and
harmless person by the other characters. For
this reason he is confided in and trusted by
 He thinks of himself higher than everyone
else. He says on the first page how he
doesn't judge people, yet he judges everyone
throughout the story.
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
He didn't say any more, but we've always been
unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I
understood that he meant a great deal more than
that. In consequence, 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.
The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach
itself to this quality when it appears in a normal
person, and so it came about that in college I was
unjustly accused of being a politician, because I
was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown
men. Most of the confidences were unsoughtfrequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or
a hostile levity when I realized by some
unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was
quivering on the horizon; for the intimate
revelations of young men, or at least the terms in
which they express them, are usually plagiaristic
and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving
judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a
little afraid of missing something if I forget that,
as my father snobbishly suggested, and I
snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental
decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.
And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I
come to the admission that it has a limit.
Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or
the wet marshes, but after a certain point I don't
care what it's founded on. When I came back
from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the
world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral
attention forever; I wanted no more riotous
excursions with privileged glimpses into the
human heart. 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. No-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.
Jay Gatsby
Gatsby is a very determined character. He
has such a strong love for Daisy. When he
finds out she is married to someone else, his
efforts to win her back become very strong.
This is what gives him the motivation to get all
this money. He finds the quickest and easiest
way even if it is illegal. Gatsby's whole effort in
the book is to get his relationship with Daisy
back to the way it was before the war.
Daisy Buchanan
Daisy is a very material person. She needs to
have money. She was very much in love with
Gatsby, but because he wasn't wealthy, she
married someone who was. Daisy focuses on
the outward rather than the inward:
“She's got an indiscreet voice,” I remarked, “It's full
of ---” I hesitated.
“Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly.
That it was. 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.
Tom is a very immoral character. He
doesn't worry about anyone but himself.
In his spitefullness he is ruining 4
people's (Daisy, Gatsby, Myrtle, Tom)
lives. He cares only about getting what
he wants, not caring who he takes down
in the process.
Jordon Baker
Jordon goes through life very carelessly.
For example, she is a very careless
driver. When Nick tells her about it, she
doesn't seemed very worried. She
becomes a hypocrite whenever she
says, "I hate careless people."
Myrtle Wilson
Myrtle has no self-respect. She lets Tom
treat her badly because he has money. She
doesn't mind being used, or if she does, she
is too caught up in the situation to realize it.
She would rather be treated like a dog by
someone with money, than be treated with
respect by someone who is poor.
George Wilson
George is a character with a very
unfortunate situation. He was a very
hard working and devoted husband.
He would have had a very peaceful
life if Tom hadn't been involved.
George bottled up all his emotions
thoughout the story causing him to
explode at the end.
Historical Context: The Jazz Age and
the Roaring Twenties
The Jazz Age began soon after World War I and
ended with the 1929 stock market crash.
Victorious, America experienced an economic
boom and expansion. Politically, the country made
major advances in the area of women's
independence. During the war, women had
enjoyed economic independence by taking over
jobs for the men who fought overseas. After the
war, they pursued financial independence and a
freer lifestyle.
 Foreshadowing Destiny
The Eulogy of a Dream
 A Great American Dream
 The Death of a Dream
 The Fall of the American Dream
 Jay Gatsby's Representation of America
Major themes
Materialism and its influence on people’s
Decay of American Greatness
 Parallel growth of Nick and Gatsby
 Nick as dramatized narrator
Gatsby’s personal experiences approximate
the whole of the American experience up to
the first few decades of the 20th century: the
dream, followed by disenchantment, and a
sense of failure and despair.
 Modern civilization is described as “valley of ashes”.
Miodern men live in sterility and meaninglessness
and futility as represented by Gatsby’s parties.
Behind the blaring of music and laughter is the
sense of purposelessness and loneliness.
“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.
Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible
track, gives out a ghastly creak and comes to rest, and
immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades
and stir up an impenetrable cloud which screens their
obscure operations from your sight.” (Chapter 2)
The shallowness Materialism
of modern men is represented by
materialism of Daisy whose voice is “full of money”
and Tom’s wickedness.
“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went
like moths among the whisperings and the champagne
and the stars.
The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of
cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is
alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo
and introductions forgotten on the spot, and
enthusiastic meetings between women who never
knew each other’s names.”(Chapter 3)
Great expectations that inspired the first settlers are
offset by the power of money.
Gatsby as Dreamer
In some ways Gatsby is great. He is a man who lives his
whole life devoting himself to his passion and never getting
But he is also foolish to live a dream upon, because nothing
ever stays the same. Things change and when one reaches a
goal he realizes it wasn't what he remembered:
"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 plot heats up as the setting heats up,
furthering suspense while placing untested
characters in such boiling heat that their
lives can find expression only in explosive
release or resignation. Their tempers flare
as the temperature rises and it is not until
they lose their composure that anything
begins to cool. ”
Tecnique of Narration
Nick is not just one character among several. It is
through his eyes and ears that we form our
opinions of the other characters.
But not every narrator is the voice of the author.
Before considering the "gap" between author and
narrator, we should remember how, as readers,
we respond to the narrator's perspective,
especially when that voice belongs to a character
who, like Nick, is an active participant in the story.
Nick’s Partial Judgement
In The Great Gatsby, Nick goes to some length
to establish his credibility, indeed his moral
integrity, in telling this story about this "great"
man called Gatsby.
The only genuine affection in the novel is shown
by Nick towards Gatsby. He admires Gatsby's
optimism, an attitude that is out of step with the
sordidness of the times. Nick is "in love" with
Gatsby's capacity to dream and ability to live as
if the dream were to come true, and it is this that
clouds his judgment of Gatsby and therefore
obscures our grasp on Gatsby.