The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby F.S. Fitzgerald, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1925. pp 182 This novel is in general about middle and upper class american citizens and their lives a few years after the first world war had concluded. The author, a World War I veteran himself, shows insight into the lives and minds of American soldiers who fought in Europe during the conflict and the interesting experiences some may have had in the years following their return. Through written conversation, the novel deals with many of the social attitudes and ideas which prevailed during the early 20’s.
Historical facts are cleverly infused into the body of the novel that gives the reader an authentic and classic impression of the story. A clear view of the discrimination that existed in that time period against non-whites and women was evident by the time the conclusion of the book was reached. For instance, a conversation takes place between characters in the novel in which civilization is said to be going to pieces as a result of “The Rise of the Coloured Empires”. Women are also constantly referred to as “girls”. Also incorporated, was an interesting but sometimes uneventful and boring sub-plot of a man’s extreme love for a woman and the catastrophic events that take place as a result.
This was indicative of many people of the day who had a spouse but often had someone else on the side. Although this book is not the kind that exciting motion pictures are made of, It was regarded as one of the masterpieces of American literature. The plot centres on a fictional World War I army veteran named Nick Carraway. After his involvement in the war on the allied side with a machine gun battalion, he returned to his home in Chicago. With no clear direction of what he wanted to do with his life, he decided to move to New York to enter into the business of selling bonds. He settled down on an area of Long Island called West Egg, directly beside a more fashionable area of Long Island called West Egg.
Across from him lived a rich man named Jay Gatsby who also was a World War I vet. Not far away lived a married couple Daisy and Tom Buchanan which he knew relatively well. It was at their residence that he met a woman, Jordan Baker, who was to become his good friend and later his girl friend. Carraway soon became a good friend with his rich neighbour next door, Gatsby, and soon was exposed to many rumours about this man which caused him to question his relationship with him. A rumour that explained why he was so rich was that he was German Kaiser Van Wilhelm’s relative.
Carraway later found out from Jordan, that Gatzby was once in love with Tom Buchanan’s wife, Daisy. In fact the only reason that Gatzby had moved into the large mansion on West Egg was to be close to his lost love. Daisy soon rekindles the love between her and Gatsby and it turns into a secret affair that only a few, including Carraway, are aware. However, Daisy’s husband soon finds out and this is when the trouble begins. As Daisy and Gatsby are driving, they accidentally hit and kill a woman named Mrs. Wilson who’s husband suspects that she is cheating.
Mr. Wilson wrongly accuses Gatzby of having an affair with his wife based on information from Tom Buchanan and subsequently kills him. So the story ends. This novel was not overly exciting but it was well written. The author conveyed the main character’s thoughts and emotions in a manner that was both fascinating and clever.
The vocabulary and choice of words used enhanced the style. The plot followed a simple pattern and built up to a climax at the end. The novel also proved to be a fitting reflection of some minute aspects of American life at the quarter of the century. Historically, the book was correct. For instance, the fact that the Americans fought in World War I in 1917 and turned out to be a factor in the defeat of Germany and it’s allies during the war was written.
References to other aspects of the war were limited although there were the occasional mention of places and names that related to it such as the Argonne Forest and the German Kaiser Van Wilhelm. Racism and sexism, which were also a integral parts of life back then were also included in the novel. The book mirrored the time in which it was written well. The Great Gatsby turned out to be a mildly interesting surprise.