Some Great Gatsby (1925) Lines
Bill Long 12/23/08
As I begin to "morph" out of writing a lot of essays, I think it most useful either to discuss words or sentences/turns of phrases used by authors so that we might have phrases at the ready to enhance our own thought and writing. Thus, I am not concerned with exploring "themes" of The Great Gatsby, such as the "Roaring '20's decadance" or "the end of the American dream," etc. One can debate those endlessly, and still have no good words to use in one's own writing. These phrases can be internalized and "mixed and matched" for your own literary pleasure. I italicize the quotations important to me.
1. About the freshness of life, or the endless possibilities, with the coming of summer:
"There was so much to read, for one thing, and so much fine health to be pulled down out of the young breath-giving air," (p. 4).
We have the word "redolent" to express the "re" or "again" or "fresh" "odor" of something, the sweet smell, the fragrance. Why isn't there a verb to redole? "It redoled of the honeysuckle bushes of her youth.."
2. Describing Tom Buchanan, a Yale man and classmate of the narrator:
"[He] had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven-a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anticlimax," (p. 6).
A brief historical note. The period about which Fitzgerald is writing in this sentence (mid to late-1910s) was when the Ivies boasted among the strongest football programs in the US. Brown Univ., for example, went to the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1916.
3. About the "gaiety" of Daisy Buchanan, Tom's wife, a vapid and hypocritical decadent rich woman:
"Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing complustion, a whispered 'Listen,' a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour," (p. 10).
4. Describing Tom Buchanan's firm taking of his arm to move him to dinner, the narrator says:
"dinner was announced; wedging his tense arm imperatively under mine, Tom Buchanan compelled me from the room as though he were moving a checker to another square," (p. 12).
5. Describing the falling of sunlight on Daisy's face:
"For a moment the last sushine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened--then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret, like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk," (p. 14).
6. Tom's insecurity is the subject of this quotation...
"As for Tom, the fact that he had 'some woman in New York' was really less surprising than than he had been depressed by a book. Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory (i.e., authoritative, commanding) heart," (p. 21).
7. In describing the abandoned character of the valley of ashes, about halfway between the Eggs and NYC, he writes:
"The only building in sight was a small block of yellow brick sitting on the edge of the waste land, a sort of compact Main Street ministering to it, and contiguous to absolutely nothing," (p. 24).
8. Describing Myrtle Wilson, the wife of George--a man who ran a filling station in the valley of ashes. Tom was having an affair with her:
"Her face, above a spotted dress of dark blue crepe-de-chine, contained no facet or gleam of beauty, but there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smouldering," (p. 25).
9. In describing the carefree, empty, and senseless nature of parties at Gatsby's during the seemingly endless Summer of 1922, Fitzgerald writes:
"The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other's names," (p. 40).
Let's do one more essay of The Great Gatsby quotations.