четверг, 22 декабря 2011 г.

The Valley of Ashes

By describing the Valley of Ashes as a dumpster for modern industrial wastes, Fitzgerald demonstrates the decay in human values that results from the competition for wealth. When Fitzgerald first introduces the audience to this waste land, the audience was immediately struck with its peculiar feature: “This is a valley of ashes – a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat”. Farm is a source of food; and food is a source of life; by replacing food with industrial ashes, Fitzgerald eludes to how modernization is beginning to turn people away from humane characteristics. This point is further supported later in the story when Nick said: “Gatsby is reclaimed by the living dead, by George Wilson, the agent of the Valley of Ashes as well as the agent of Gatsby’s death.”. Indirectly, Fitzgerald clarifies that Gatsby did not die because of George Wilson the person, but rather because of George Wilson the agent of Valley of Ashes. George Wilson is a man who lives in this dumpster of industrial wastes, and he killed Gatsby, a wealthy man of a modern industrialized society. This is symbolic of how the production of wealth and money bring decay and death to Jay Gatsby. This can be seen as a punishment from a higher power that is unhappy with the path that humankind is taking.
Throughout the story, Fitzgerald repeatedly emphasizes the point that money is slowing taking over society as a whole, causing ethical and moral decay in the people. This is an important issue to consider because on a global scale, humankind is producing more than they can consume. Yet, there is still millions of people worldwide suffering from hunger and from lacking essential needs. Modernization was meant to improve living standards, but it has brought along the negative effect of people losing themselves in luxurious lifestyles, always wanting more. Capitalism’s ideal is to protect the people’s right to succeed and achieve the American Dream; its ideal rest upon the notion of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But in the pursuit of happiness via materialistic desires, people are losing their ability to be freed from irresistible luxuries.

среда, 21 декабря 2011 г.

The Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg

The first time we see the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg, the image is intertwined with Nick’s description of the Valley of Ashes. The ashes are, as ashes tend to be, "desolate" and "grotesque." Nick and the others have to pass through this "bleak" land any time they travel between the Eggs and the city. Think of the valley of ashes as one big, grey reality check. Compare Gatsby’s lavish parties of fresh fruit and live music and champagne to this land of smokestacks and ash-men; it seems that not all the world is as privileged as our cast of characters.

But the valley of ashes can also be seen as more commentary on the American Dream. The America of The Great Gatsby is ashen, decaying, and barren. It is also, based on the action that goes down in the valley of the ashes, devoid of morality and compassion. Myrtle Wilson lives by the ashheaps, and so there resides Tom’s infidelity. George Wilson lives by the ash heaps, so we can place there both anger and envy. Myrtle is, of course, killed there, so we also come to identify death with the valley.

Which brings us to the eyes. T.J. Eckleburg’s billboard is the second notable pair of eyes in the novel (Owl-eyes, remember?). But these ones are a little different from those of the party-going bibliophile. Nick goes on for three sentences about these weird, disembodied eyes before actually explaining that they’re on a billboard. He gives your mind time to picture eerie images, to wonder what’s going on, even to form other notions of what the eyes could be. Clearly, to us, the readers, the eyes are more than just a billboard. 

Now that we’ve established that, we’re sharp on the look out for more information. Nick notices the eyes again as the quartet heads into the city in Chapter Seven, shortly before the Tom vs. Gatsby showdown. He notes them keeping a "watchful vigil" – which sounds like a rather religious choice of words, at least in connotation. But we hit the jackpot in Chapter Eight, when George takes Myrtle to the window (from which, we know, the billboard is visible) and tells her she can’t fool God. Wilson then makes the very same connection we are; the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg are always watching, and so are the eyes of God.

There are a few directions you can take from here. The first is that, despite the absence of religion from the characters in this story, God is still there. He is all-seeing, ever present, and, as Nick points out, frowning. Things are not well in the valley of American ashes. The other shot you could take at this is to say that God has been replaced by capitalism. Instead of a truly religious representation, the best this world can do is manifest God in a billboard – an advertisement.

вторник, 20 декабря 2011 г.

Green: Life, Vitality, The Future, Exploration

We’re thinking green = plants and trees and stuff, so life and springtime and other happy things. Do we see this in The Great Gatsby? The most noticeable image is that green light we seem to see over and over. You know, the green light of the "orgastic future" that we stretch our hands towards, etc. etc. We can definitely see green as being hopeful, as being the future, as being vitality and freshness. Right before these famous last lines, Nick also describes the "fresh, green breast of the new world," the new world being this land as Nick imagines it existed hundreds of years before. The new world might be green, but when Nick imagines Gatsby’s future without Daisy, he sees "a new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about...like that ashen fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees." Nick struggles to define what the future really means, especially as he faces the new decade before him (the dreaded thirties). Is he driving on toward grey, ashen death through the twilight, or reaching out for a bright, fresh green future across the water?
Green also represents spring, which is a new beginning or hope.
Once also used for envy. [“In the sunlight his (George Wilson’s) face was green.”]

The ‘green light at the end of Daisy’s dock’ is the representation of ‘The American Dream’, the desire to succeed in life which again refers to money.
The green light also represents hope. Gatsby was hoping to restore his ancient relationship with Daisy that has long been impossible, though Gatsby failed to realize it because he was blinded by the hope generated by the green light. It insinuates that hope is not always a reality.
Nick encounters Gatsby standing in Gatsby’s lawn in the dead of night, and describes what he sees:
“…he stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling involuntarily I glanced seaward – and distinguishing nothing except a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of a dock.

The symbolism of green throughout the novel is as variable and contradictory as the many definitions of “green” and the many uses of money—”new,” “natural,” “innocent,” “naive,” and “uncorrupted”; but also “rotten,” “gullible,” “nauseous,” and “sickly.”

воскресенье, 18 декабря 2011 г.

Grey and a General Lack of Color: Lifelessness.

Then there is the lack of color presented in the grey ash heaps. If the ash heaps are associated with lifelessness and barrenness, and grey is associated with the ash heaps, anyone described as grey is going to be connected to barren lifelessness. Our main contender is Wilson: "When anyone spoke to him he invariably laughed in an agreeable colorless way." Wilson’s face is "ashen." His eyes are described as "pale" and "glazed." It is then no coincidence that Wilson is the bearer of lifelessness, killing Gatsby among yellow leaved trees, which we already decided had something to do with destruction.
Represents a dullness or a loss of hope, lack of happiness, lack of life.
Can also represent the fading of blue, which means the fading of dreams.
It is the main description of the ‘Valley of Ashes’

- Jordan has grey eyes.
“Her grey, sun-strained eyes…”
They show lack of love and a general boredom in life because she is surrounded by everything she wants and has no dreams and no plans for the future.

- The first time Gatsby and Nick meet, they make a reference to the war saying:
“We talked for a moment about some wet, grey little villages in France.”
The villages are seen as sad as they have suffered during the war and can also be referred to ‘The Valley of Ashes’.

суббота, 17 декабря 2011 г.

Blue: This One’s Up For Grabs

Then there’s the color blue, which we think represents Gatsby’s illusions - his deeply romantic dreams of unreality. We did notice that the color blue is present around Gatsby more so than any other character. His gardens are blue, his chauffeur wears blue, the water separating him from Daisy is his "blue lawn," mingled with the "blue smoke of brittle leaves" in his yard. His transformation into Jay Gatsby is sparked by Cody, who buys him, among other things, a "blue coat." Before you tie this up under one simple label, keep in mind that the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg are also blue, and so is Tom’s car. If blue represents illusions and alternatives to reality, God may be seen as a non-existent dream.

- Blue is used to describe Jay Gatsby’s gardens where people come and go to parties as they please. His “blue” gardens are representative of a fantasyland. Blue represents Gatsby’s dreamland which he thinks is reality.
- “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars”
- “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”
- When Dan Cody buys Gatsby a blue coat, among other things, he begins to become more prosperous and wealthy. Maybe in the dream, his success may have been caused by the blue coat, but in reality, it was probably just a coincidence.

четверг, 15 декабря 2011 г.

White: Innocence and Femininity. Maybe.

While we’re looking at cars, notice that Daisy’s car (back before she was married) was white. So are her clothes, the rooms of her house, and about half the adjectives used to describe her (her "white neck," "white girlhood," the king’s daughter "high in a white palace"). Everyone likes to say that white in The Great Gatsby means innocence, probably because 1) that’s easy to say and 2) everyone else is saying it. But come on – Daisy is hardly the picture of girlish innocence. At the end of the novel, she is described as selfish, careless, and destructive. Does this make the point that even the purest characters in Gatsby have been corrupted? Did Daisy start off all innocent and fall along the way, or was there no such purity to begin with? Or, in some way, does Daisy’s decision to remain with Tom allow her to keep her innocence? We’ll keep thinking about that one.
Symbolizes purity and innocence
Mostly symbolizes Daisy and Jordan. They are usually wearing white.
- Jordan and Daisy’s girlhood is described as “beautiful white.”
-  “They are both in white.”
- “Daisy and Jordan lay upon an enormous couch, like silver idols weighing down their own white dresses…”

Daisy seems to always be connected to the colour white.
- On the day Daisy kissed Gatsby. “Daisy’s white face came up to his own.”
- “Our beautiful white [girlhood]-”
- “Her face bent into the single wrinkle of the small white neck.”
- “High in a white palace the king’s daughter…”
Childhood represents innocence and because the colour white is associated with innocence, white becomes a representation of innocence. It makes it seem that Daisy was innocent when she was younger.
- When Gatsby first knew Daisy, “…she dressed in white, and had a little white roadster…”
- ”When I came opposite her house that morning her white roadster was beside the curb…”
- ”…November night and revisiting the out-of-the-way places to which they had driven in her white car.”

Jordan is also described with the word white, although not as often as Daisy.
- “Jordan’s fingers, powdered white over their tan…”
- “Aunt Jordan’s got a white dress too.”

Gatsby is also frequently described with white.
- The steps on Gatsby’s house are white. (It kinda means that on the outside the house looks innocent but on the inside it is not).
- “On the white steps an obscene word,…”
- “… made a bright sort of colour against the white steps…when I first came to his ancestral home.”
- When Gatsby wanted to meet Daisy for the first time in 5 years, he wore a white suit to show that he was good, pure and honest to appease Daisy.
- “…and Gatsby, in a white flannel suit, silver shirt and gold-coloured tie…”
- When Gatsby was stopped by the police for speeding.
“Taking a white card from his wallet, he waved it before the man’s eyes…”

Nick is also usually dressed in white to symbolize his innocence. He believes that he himself “is the most honest person he knows.”
- “…I am one of the few honest people I have ever known.”
- The first time he went to Gatby’s party he wore white.
- “Dressed up in white flannels I went over to his lawn a little after seven…”

West Egg
The neighborhood in which Nick and Gatsby live, West Egg, in is often described as white. He uses white to symbolize that the city looks harmless and innocent but actually it isn’t since white in the Great Gatsby symbolizes false purity.
- “…I hurried down the white chasms of lower New York…”
- “…so I drove into the West Egg Village in search for her among soggy whitewashed alleys…”
- “…the sidewalk was white with moonlight.”
- “…men in dress suits are walking along the sidewalk with a stretcher on which lies a drunken woman in a white evening dress.”

понедельник, 12 декабря 2011 г.

Yellow and Gold: Money, Money, Money. Oh, and Death.

First off, we’ve got yellows and golds, which we’re thinking has something to do with…gold (in the cash money sense). Why gold and not green? Because we’re talking about the real stuff, the authentic, traditional, "old money" – not these new-fangled dollar bills. So you’ve got your "yellow cocktail music" playing at Gatsby’s party where the turkeys are "bewitched to dark gold" and Jordan and Nick sit with "two girls in yellow." It seems clear, then, that Gatsby is using these parties to try to fit in with the "old money" crowd. And it doesn’t stop there; when Gatsby is finally going to see Daisy again at Nick’s house, he wears a gold tie. Nick later mentions the "pale gold odor of kiss-me-at-the-gate," which may seem weird (since last we checked, colors didn’t have a smell) until we remember Nick’s description of New York as "a wish out of non-olfactory money." Odor then is associated with gold, and non-odor with money. The difference? Perhaps the same distinction as Daisy’s upper class world and Gatsby’s new-found wealth. While Gatsby buys a yellow car to further promote his facade, he’s really not fooling anyone. Lastly, we’ve got Daisy, who is only called "the golden girl" once Gatsby realizes that her voice, her main feature, is "full of money." Yellow is not just the color of money, but also of destruction. Yellow is the color of the car that runs down Myrtle. The glasses of Eckleburg, looking over the wasteland of America, are yellow. This dual symbolism clearly associates money with destruction; the ash heaps are the filthy result of the decadent lifestyle led by the rich.
 Yellow also represents corruptness. Gatsby's car is yellow, a product of his corrupt dealings, as are the spectacles of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. It's probably not a coincidence that the novel's most impure character is named after a yellow flower. Gold has earned its place among the all time symbols of corruption and greed, although most wouldn't mind having more of it.

Like her name suggests, is a flower with white petals and a yellow centre. It kind of shows that Daisy looks innocent and pure on the outside, like her petals, but is rotten on the inside, which is represented by the yellow part of the flower.
She ends up killing Myrtle even though she looks so harmless on the outside.

Jordan’s yellow side can be shown through her hair, which is ‘autumn leaf yellow.’
Jordan can also be seen associated with the color of gold.
- “With Jordan’s slender golden arm resting in mine…”
- “I put my arm around Jordan’s golden shoulder…”

George Wilson
Yellow is the colour of depravity
- His house is made of yellow brick. It is the only place strictly referred to as yellow.
“The only building in sight was a small block of yellow brick…”
- The house contains individuals Myrtle and George Wilson, who eventually decided to kill Gatsby on the information presented to him by Tom inside the house, and he displays depravity when he tells Machaelis that “God sees everything”.
“God knows what you’ve been doing, everything you’ve been doing. You may fool me, but you can’t fool God!”
- He actually believed that the billbdrd of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg is some kind of God who could see all the immorality around him. Such as Mrytle. Mrs. Wilson cheating on her husband and even regrets their marriage.
“The only crazy I was was when I married him…”

T.J. Eckleburg
Wilson sees the billboard as something like a God.
- T.J. Eckleburg is wearing yellow glasses, which represents the depravity of his “godliness”.

Each person who lives in the yellow brick house is corrupted and immoral. The billboard of T.J. Eckleburg is related to the Wilson’s home, as George views the billboard as a God . Not surprisingly, T.J. Eckleburg is wearing yellow glasses, representing the depravity of Eckleburg’s “godliness.” Corruption is distinctly represented by yellow, but death is also a key to yellow’s dark symbolism.
Yellow is usually seen around a tragic death.
- Myrtle was killed by Gatsby’s yellow Rolls Royce, in front of her yellow brick house under the yellow spectacled eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg.
- The yellow colour of Gatsby’s car led to his death. If the colour of his car was black, like most of the cars during that time then he wouldn’t have been killed.
- Gatsby is seen walking through ‘yellowing trees’ just before he was murdered. “…but he shook his head and in a moment disappeared among the yellowing trees.” 

вторник, 6 декабря 2011 г.

East and West

Nick describes the novel as a book about Westerners, a “story of the West. Tom, Daisy, Jordan, Gatsby, and Nick all hail from places other than the East. The romanticized American idea of going West to seek and make one’s fortune on the frontier turned on its ear in the 1920’s stock boom; now those seeking their fortune headed back East to cash in. But while Gatsby suggests there was a kind of honor in the hard work of making a fortune and building a life on the frontier, the quest for money in the East is nothing more than that: a hollow quest for money. The split between the eastern and western regions of the United States is mirrored in Gatsby by the divide between East Egg and West Egg: once again the West is the frontier of people making their fortunes, but these “Westerners” are as hollow and corrupt inside as the “Easterners.”

воскресенье, 4 декабря 2011 г.

Heat & Automobiles

                  Heat - The heat becomes oppressive during the climactic scene in the novel. Tom, Daisy, NickJordan, and Gatsby head to the city as tension increases. Nick describes the day as "broiling, almost the last, certainly the warmest of the summer". Daisy complains, "It's so hot, and everything's so confused". linking the oppressive heat with the oppressive situation. It's possible, as well, that the heat is, in some way, symbolic of hell and damnation. It is in chapter 7 that Gatsby's dream is crushed and Myrtle Wilson's infidelity is discovered.
                      Automobiles - Cars have been regarded as status symbols since Henry Ford rolled out the first Model T in the early 20th century. The automobiles driven by Gatsby and Tom Buchanan symbolize their attributes as well: Gatsby's car is gaudy and contains all the latest gadgets. Tom refers to it as a "circus wagon". Tom's drives a coupe, a high-end, traditional, elegant auto. In addition to the two men, automobiles symbolize recklessness as evidenced by Gatsby's recklessness with money and the moral recklessness of Daisy as she barrels into Myrtle Wilson, killing her.

Gatsby's "books"

An owl-eyed man at a Gatsby party sits in awe in the library, murmuring with amazement that all the books on Gatsby’s shelves are "real books." But does Gatsby even read them? The image works to suggest that much of what Gatsby presents to the world is a façade; for example, he wants people to believe that he’s a well-educated man, an Oxford man, but in fact he only spent a short time there after the war. The books may represent the fact that Gatsby is a fraud – that he has built up an image of himself that is not consistent with the facts of his life. But, you could also argue that the unopened, unread books represent Gatsby himself: though there are many rumors about who he is and how he earned his money, the facts remain unexamined, unopened.

четверг, 1 декабря 2011 г.

The Owl-Eyed Man

Speaking of those books, what’s the matter with that man in the library? A reader lists the owl-eyed man as a character, but then he realizes that absolutely nothing is known about him. Even Nick reduces him from a man to a pair of eyes. So, probably, he’s really more of a symbol than a full blown character.

First, there’s the owl bit; owls are a symbol of wisdom, of great vision as an owl can see in the dark of the night, but can also be an omen of death. Then there’s the glasses bit; a man with large eyes and spectacles would be expected to be more perceptive, observant and inspective and watch than those around him, absorbed with free drinks and jazz-music. He is surprised when he finds that Gatsby’s books are real, meaning he must have had reason to think that Gatsby was fake.

So does the owl-eyed man fit the bill? Being perceptive and all, the bespectacled man is right to be suspicious of Gatsby. He is the only guest who, in doubting Gatsby, is also wise enough to investigate further. Moving right along to the portent of death part, a reader notices that it was the owl-eyed man who had the car accident outside of Gatsby’s house and that, shortly after he got out of the car, it was he who revealed that someone else was driving. Does any of this sound familiar?

If you’re really interested in the owl-eyed man (as we so clearly are), you should check out the scene at the end where he’s the only former guest to come to Gatsby’s funeral. Why would that be? To my mind, it is the sign that being a «scout» the owl-eyed man understands the nature of Gatsby’s character and appreciates his decent character, unlike his numerous so-called «friends», most of whom were not even acquainted with Gatsby.