I am sure that many people have read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald at least once in their lives. If it wasn’t your grade 12 English teacher shoving it down your throat, it was your really cool aunt who gave you a copy for Christmas, or maybe your group of friends who raved about it at brunch last Sunday.
If you haven’t read The Great Gatsby, though, you’re missing out on one of the most impactful pieces of literature that has ever been brought to the attention of book lovers.
In ENG110, The Great Gatsby was assigned reading over the winter break. I heard some of my peers groan over this while others expressed excitement over their first reading. Other students, like me, were delighted to be studying the book for the second time.
The Great Gatsby’s success is not only due to its dynamic plotline but also its electrifying characters.
Take Jay Gatsby, for example. Gatsby is like that guy on your street who never comes to your parties, but that’s probably because he’s too busy polishing his car. You can’t be jealous of him because you want him to like you, but then again, you don’t have to worry because he likes everyone anyway. Gatsby is romantic and mysterious. But reading further along, there seems to be more to his story than just a guy who throws lavish parties and has loads of friends.
Fitzgerald knows how to make the setting an accessible and substantial aspect of the storyline. Usually, his books are set in New York City. This is one of the aspects of his writing that I like the most. Who doesn’t dream of New York? Fitzgerald makes it the place to be. He goes into detail about all the glitz and the glam, making the 1920s enviably cool.
It’s obvious that Fitzgerald loves the Big Apple. The people are diamond-studded and the city nights embody the American Dream, filled with rich, too-pretty-to-care, curly-haired women and a whole lot of charm.
The novel takes an interesting spin right from the start when we realize that Nick Carraway, the man who moves in next door to Gatsby, and not Gatsby himself, is the narrator of the book. When I read the book for the first time, I desperately didn’t want Nick to be the one to tell Gatsby and Daisy’s story on their behalf. I wanted to hear Gatsby’s story straight from his mouth. But if the reader is allowed inside Gatsby’s head, well, where’s the mystery in that?