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The Great Gatsby was a book I longed to read long before I knew about the ‘Jazz Age’! Somehow, I seemed to have gathered enough about the story to know that Gatsby was a man who lived in opulence and at some level it evoked a sense of curiosity in me. Somehow the curiosity settled and the next time it resurfaced, I was curious about the author. So, it would not be surprising that the thing that enthralled me the most was the very first line that Scott Fitzgerald wrote ~ Once again to Zelda.

To me, the book spoke less of Gatsby’s tragedy than that which his friendly neighbour Mr. Carraway goes through. As they say, do not grieve for the dead, but the living. But that is not all, while giving us a voyeuristic view into the happenings at Gatsby’s palatial abode in West Egg, Nick Carraway unwittingly enlightens us on a few things about himself. There are two that are worth the mention here.

One, when he admits at the end of Chapter 3 that he ‘suspected himself’ of the ‘cardinal virtue’ of being one of the few honest men he has ever known. We later see Ms. Baker accusing him of wrongly taken pride in being honest, only to see him not deny it. Here, we see a growth in Carraway which I would for once admit to be more admirable than the trait of always being honest, because admitting that one has not always been honest is in itself a display of one’s honesty!

The second, the more profound, is something we all are guilty of, and he states as Gatsby’s belief;

“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 – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning –

                So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

However, I do not see the latter as a folly. It is what gives us hope when we hit rock-bottom; the faith that our efforts would be rewarded. We have enough forces around us telling us we cannot do it, we do not need be told this fact. Let us be ignorant of this fact and persevere to reach that promised land of the future!

And before you are convinced that the Story was completely lost on me, I do appreciate the tragic irony (poetic justice, really!) that the reader is faced with at the end. You hope so dearly that the two adulterers perish and Gatsby and his lover reunite, but Fitzgerald has something else planned out for his characters. Not that the reader had not been warned. You perceive as much, from Carraway’s admission of scorn towards the types of Gatsby despite that is interlaced with a general admiration of the character.

The greatest tragedy in my perspective was not the death of Jay Gatsby or the events that led to it, but his funeral. People yearned to be at his parties, but on his death, not even those who claimed to be his closest friends turn up. I had an odd tear run down my cheek as I read through that part. Whether you like it or not, your family (of the father, mother, sibling kind!) is the only group of people you can count on!

Cover-page of The Great Gatsby, courtesy flipkart.com

Cover-page of The Great Gatsby, courtesy flipkart.com

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