The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald was my favorite book in High School, it changed me. I had never read anything like that. I was taken with Nick. He was witnessing this life that was like nothing I had ever imagined. The whole lot of them were a mess, but I kept thinking it’s not that bad, careless rich people are not that bad. Then I would go back and think about how could people act like that, how could people live like that. I could easily see both sides of the story.
I have two favorite quotes:
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one . . . just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” Chapter 1 and also “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” Chapter 9
People get caught up in the imagery and what everything means and I did do that in college, when I did my senior thesis on it, but overall, these two quotes pop into my mind several times a week. When I see or read things, or when I’m being judgemental.
I was never Nick and I was never Daisy, I can’t relate to any one character. Nick went to an Ivy league and had an upper middle class background, I always think of Mr.North when I think of Nick, but he is the character I can most connect with. He is living next to this life, this insane money filled life. I was hooked, I wanted that life, but I also wanted it in the 1920’s( I’m a huge fan of the gilded & jazz ages). My husband went to boarding school (and in an odd connection one Fitzgerald names a few times in other novels) and it was through him I came to realize that really wealthy people do not live like I was raised. They can be more carefree. Once we were at a New Year’s Eve party on a bay in Bermuda and it was huge, hundreds of people, spilling out of this large home on the water. We didn’t know the host, but we knew someone who knew someone, as did everyone else it seemed. There was champagne and drinks everywhere, there was food, there was music, there was gambling and it was amazing.People were talking for days after it and people would speak of the host and his family money like we all knew him and hung out on a regular basis, it made you feel important and part of something bigger. It was me walking into Gatsby, or as close to a Gatsby type party that I will ever get. It was through my husband that I discovered people who owned many homes and who had people to help them and take care of things. The kind of life that allows you to just walk away from the messes you make. I feel like Nick in the way that I could never do that. I wasn’t raised like that, I have too much empathy and guilt. I also loved the way Nick was brought up to not judge and you know what, it’s golden advice. I like many others are so quick to judge, but you don’t know where people are coming from, you don’t know their life. I am drawn to this because I have had so many advantages that other people from my background would never have. But I was hooked, I wanted that lifestyle and you know I will never have that lifestyle but it gives me room to daydream, on boring afternoons.
I think one of the main reasons I have an affliction for Lilly Pulitzer and why I used to be the J Crew for every outfit in high school person, is because I have always wanted to live that life. But I don’t know if I could live it forever, maybe a few weeks or one year, but then how could you go back? It’s the stuff of movies and tv shows, it’s why people play the lottery. Really, people other than stars and celebs and google execs don’t live like that. But the public lives of the ones we see are like that to an extent. Think of all the young heirs to vast fortunes, or recently famous athletes. Think about how they just don’t care, they break the law, they destroy things and lives and we are obsessed. We want that so badly, and like lottery winners who were poor, too much of anything sends some people over the edge, especially money. And like Gatsby the truly wealthy who were born into it, know you aren’t like them, and they will always know that and they will always exclude you. You can’t be accepted into that world in one generation of wealth, you can’t marry into it, people will always know you were just the wife, who got lucky, right place, right time, but that you don’t belong there with them. And that’s what happened with Gatsby, poor guy built this all for the chance of living his dreams and he got caught up taken down and no one cared, no one but Nick. Nick was lucky because he could go back to normalcy and I have a feeling if I was in that boat so would I. Because there is nothing worse than feeling like you are accepted, you are smart, you have a good position, you married well, but people don’t care, because working your way there and trying to be with them, will never be the same as being one of them.
I’m obsessed with this book and I think people sometimes think I over reference it, ever one of my cats is named Gatsby. I am so excited for the movie coming out this year. I know movies are never as good as the book, but it just looks fabulous, and for some reason today, I felt like I needed a Gatsby rant.