Truly a novel of intricate patterns as a man strives to live his own dream amidst the ‘roaring’ twenties filled with American dreams. With ‘Mr. Nobody from Nowhere’ interrupting the lives of the glamorous and wealthy Buchanans in the ‘white palaces of fashionable East Egg’; a scandalous affair; murder; the criminal underworld and consumerism is framed by the hope of dreams and the new life of East and West Egg. Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby borders on the edge of dream and reality in a struggle to find romance that ends in tragic death and brutal murder. A fantastic novel that encapsulates the dreams of one man to find his ‘golden girl’ in the ‘white palace’ that he dreamily portrays as a beautiful illusion that ‘had gone beyond her, beyond everything’ and into which he throws himself until the tension snaps leaving a ‘thin red circle in the water’ as a reminder of the events of Gatsby, Daisy, Tom, Jordan and Nick’s summer.
Set amid the ‘roaring twenties’ of 1920 America where opportunities, hope and prosperity are ‘just around the corner’, where the more liberalized ‘flappers’ ‘swooning backward playfully into men’s arms’ and prohibition means underground crime, and the excitement of ‘bootlegging’ illegal ‘moonshine’ rule the delightful America and the West land. Gatsby, our protagonist, personifies the hopes and dreams of America where consumerism, peace, wealth and prosperity mingle with the exhilarating music of the jazz age but the underlying tensions of status, racial discrimination, organized crime and class distinctions ‘preyed on Gatsby’ the ‘foul dust that floated in the wake of his dreams.’
Told by our ‘reserved’ and almost ‘snobbish’ narrator Nick Carraway, the story of Gatsby is expressed, romanticizing our protagonist, Gatsby, through the eyes of Nick’s arguably unreliable narration in the fulfillment of his own Platonic Conception in Gatsby who ‘turned out all right in the end’. Formed through a collection of social occasions and outings that reflect the party atmosphere of the 1920’s, the narrative is told conscientiously by Nick as he slowly pieces together the puzzle of the ‘great’ Gatsby with aspects of romantic, poetic language entwined subtly into the descriptive narrative as Nick retells what he summarizes as ‘a story of the West, after all’ yet with the tinge of romance of the Green Light, the ‘enchanted object’ of which the ‘colossal significance … had now vanished forever.’
A very intricately patterned novel with juxtapositions, contrasts and similarities clashing together in the creation of characters and settings to narrate the ‘story of the West’ but most importantly the story of the Great Gatsby and his quest to find lost love in the modernizing society of America. Phenomenally told as Fitzgerald combines dream and reality, superficiality and illusion, wealth and the ‘wasteland’, independence and criminals to create a touch of ‘human magic upon the air’ and a truly unforgettable novel.
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