So I read â€œThe Great Gatsbyâ€ in 10th grade. I was 15, living in suburbia and confused about the major topics in the novel–racism and eugenics, gangster/mob culture, and perceiving reality (alcohol).
I loved it then. And I love it now. Rereading the book for my Visual Cultures of the Modern Novel class has been such a treat. I now get things that are going on in the novel that werenâ€™t talked about in my high school class (everything is homoerotic). And I feel that Fitzgerald, in describing the 20â€™s, describes college and he KNOWS my interactions with the world.
1. Friday, Friday, Gotta Get Down on Friday:
Daisy: â€œI always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss itâ€ (16). Friday should be the longest day of the week–a day I donâ€™t have class, a day where I wake up and cope from watching Scandal with a workout, a day where I donâ€™t leave my apartment until 9pm. But all of a sudden I wake up in a haze with the sun attacking my eyes and itâ€™s Saturday. Boo hiss. Friday over.
2. Everyoneâ€™s stupid and everything hurts:
Tom: â€œHeâ€™s so dumb he doesnâ€™t know heâ€™s aliveâ€ (30). Tom gets few things besides racism, classism, sexism, ableism, and ageism. But the other thing he knows is that most people I interact with donâ€™t know that theyâ€™re alive. â€œWoah, Iâ€™m white–what does that mean? I have privilege?â€ My response: â€œoh, another one of you non-alive folks.â€ Or those people who ask me if Iâ€™m dressed up in costume on Halloween (today!) and Iâ€™m in regular clothes (peacock earrings, harem pants, tie-dye shirt, neon coat, stilettos). Â These non-alive people are worse than zombies and at least Tom (and I) call them out.
3. Weâ€™re all gonna die:
Myrtle: Â â€œYou canâ€™t live forever, you canâ€™t live foreverâ€ (40). She gets this whole mortal thing (and this being-unto-death thing). As the first(?) character to die, she gets the #yolo life. While I will hopefully live more than once, more than 5 is a bit much–Myrtle understands. I refuse to JUST #yolo, but Iâ€™m ok with dying after one too many.
4 . To be a freshman is to thirsty:
Nick: â€œI was one of the few guests who had actually been invitedâ€ (45). Everyone at Gatsbyâ€™s party just shows up. WHAT. Its like all those nasty freshman that appear out of nowhere, all wearing AP Government shirts or their greek life paraphernalia, that drink the whole keg and then flirt with literally everyone. Itâ€™s the best when youâ€™re at a small house party and the freshman flock to show up, finding 15 people discussing cultural appropriation and some good speakers. Come at me, freshman!
5. Iâ€™m going to leave this gem hear:
Owl Eyes: Â â€œIâ€™ve been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a libraryâ€ (50).
6. And this:
â€œâ€˜Anyhow he gives large parties,â€™ said Jordan, changing the subject with an urban distaste for the concrete. â€˜And I like large parties. Theyâ€™re so intimate. At small parties there isnâ€™t any privacyâ€™â€ (54).
7. OH, AND THIS:
Young Lady: â€œâ€˜[R]each me a rose, honey, and pour me a last drop into that there crystal glassâ€™â€ (65).
8. Everyone is reckless:
Gatsby: â€œâ€˜I tried very hard to die but I seemed to bear an enchanted lifeâ€™â€ (70). Sometimes you are out until 5am, sometimes you are awake in the library until 5am with marker smudges all over your face, sometimes you drink 2 pots of coffee a day, sometimes you sleep 12 hours to cope, sometimes you eat only hummus, sometimes you j-walk like life isnâ€™t real and its raining and you jump into a bush to avoid a car (unlike Myrtle). Everyone is so intense but if the world likes us, we live to see tomorrow.
9. People troll and derail pretty much everything.
Narrator: â€œThe automatic quality of Gatsby’s answer set us all back at least another minuteâ€ (92).
10. Aesthetics are real. Everything is Campy.
Daisy: â€œâ€˜Theyâ€™re such beautiful shirts,â€™ she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. â€˜It makes me sad because Iâ€™ve never seen such–such beautiful shirts beforeâ€ (98).
The Great Gatsby might infuriate you. It might inspire you. It might make you nostalgic or make you happy that this century is not a teenager. But, either way, it gets some things. Gets them well.