Book Review: The Great Gatsby
I had never really intended to read this book. And yet now afterwards I'm so glad I did. (Funny how that happens, huh?)
It started with me watching a music video about The Great Gatsby movie, and that sparked my interest. I knew it was based on a book, that said book was a classic, and that we owned that book, so I decided before I watched the movie, I would read the book. Because the book is always so much better then the movie.
Ya. So, I started, and finished The Great Gatsby. Here's what I thought.
Ok. Forgive that horrid attempt at a summary... :/ Where to begin? *I apologize in advance for the complete ramblings that are to follow.. They aren't really review like at all, but I couldn't help that.*
First, I can't really go much more in depth with out major spoilers, because, well, just because. So if you don't want to know how it ends, you should stop reading... If you know have read it, or don't really care, please read on!
It was a beautiful book. Really it was. Fitzgerald had this astounding way of painting a picture in your mind. Not just pictures of the setting, or house, or lovely scenery, but he painted ideas into your mind. He created opinions and ideas about the characters, the story. It sounds strange, but that's really what I felt when I finished the book. I thought the G.G. was a pleasant, romantic story, but it wasn't till the last chapter or two, that it's messages really hit home.
I have to mention one problem though. After Gatsby meets up with Daisy, they both begin to fall in love with each other again. The problem? Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan. I know that sounds like a major problem in the story, but it doesn't dwell on that much at all. I believe Gatsby and Daisy only kiss once, and if they do anything else, it wasn't brought into the story. That was good. So besides the fact that that is totally wrong for them both to be doing that, at least it wasn't turned into a steamy love affair.
Up until the last few chapters of the story, I had just found it a romantic drama of sorts, about an eccentric millionaire having an affair. But then **SPOILER** Gatsby was murdered in his own back yard. Murdered by the husband of a woman Daisy had hit when she was driving Gatsby's car. Murdered because this man thought it was Gatsby who had killed his unfaithful wife. Gatsby was shot dead.
It shocked me. I was truly shocked and horrified. It seemed like I read the rest of the book in a daze. Like none of it mattered, because Gatsby was dead, and what was the point of the story then? And it was then that I realized what Fitzgerald had done with his writing. He had built this idea in my mind, this image. He had blinded me by the great parties, and forbidden romance, and overwhelming wealth, and built the idea that Gatsby couldn't die. That Gatsby was too rich, and young, charismatic and romantic to die. But he did.
And when he died, no one cared.
When he died, only three people came to his funeral. His father, Mr. Carraway, and a man he had never met. Daisy didn't come. His hundreds of friends didn't come.
Honestly, I think that's the point Fitzgerald wanted to prove. Gatsby was what the world would consider perfect. Rich, intriguing, successful, handsome. Someone who had built their present life out of nothing. Someone memorable. So when Gatsby died, it was like a punch to the gut. Because wealth doesn't make you immortal. Because it's all really empty and pointless. Because no one remembered him after that. And because it showed who Gatsby really was: a man, not really Jay Gatsby at all, but Jimmy Gatz, chasing the past. A man trying to get the woman he loved back, and trying to become the rich Jay Gatsby he had dreamed of being since he was 17. And in doing that: in trying to re-create the past, and get Daisy back, he forgot the present, and was blind to the future.
So in the end, this was an intensely powerful book, and I highly recommend it. It shakes you up, and opens your eyes to so many relevant ideas. But most importantly, it challenges the instinct in us all to hold on to the past like it is our present, and will be our future.
"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 so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter-tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms out farther....And one fine morning-
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
- Mr. Carraway
The Great Gatsby