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Pay attention to the ironies of lying and honesty and integrity that arise in this chapter.
The modern reader might find some of the descriptions in this chapter to be racist—“the tragic eyes and short upper lips of southeastern Europe” and “three modish negroes.” Bear two things in mind:
This was, unfortunately, the terminology of the day. Science at that time posited that different ethnicities were physiologically-distinct races of humans. Faulkner, via narrator Nick, uses descriptors of the time.
Wolfsheim’s characterization is laden with Jewish stereotype. In your reading, do you get a sense that Nick is anti-Semitic? (How does your judgement change as the plot develops?)
As enlightened readers in the 21st century, we understand the limitations of that time. Bear in mind that on page one, Nick tells us that he is “inclined to reserve all judgments.”
”…he began to eat with ferocious delicacy.” What manners of speaking suggest that Wolfsheim is a gangster?
The end of luncheon segues into Jordan becoming the narrator of a tale from 1917, five years in the past. “He came alive to me, delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor.” Compare this to “an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness” as used to describe Gatsby on page two.
Again with “nightmare – grotesque”
Henry Gatz. “He told me I et like a hog once, and I beat him for it.” So much can be revealed about a person’s upbringing in a simple sentence.
And again, the owl- eyed man. (You will encounter people like this in your life, who, in a few words or a simple action, restore faith in humanity.)
“…and then the owl-eyed man said ‘Amen to that,’ in a brave voice.” Amen to what?
Timeshift to the Midwest of the past, as an explanation of Nick’s decision to leave the East and return to it.
May you never run into such careless people, but be warned that they may be rich or poor.
Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into this solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be for what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me,
7 January, 1916
James Gatz, even though he has no college education or wealth, somehow manages to persuade the Army that he is officer material, and in the great mobilization that was World War I, is commissioned as a lieutenant
And here he is, a major, sent to Oxford and pictured with friends who are the nobility of Britain, a free education at a world-class university, and what does he do?
Compare his reaching out to catch the last grasp of Louisville and his dream with his reaching out to the green light at the end of the dock.
The between-dreams and grotesque reality set the tone for the chapter
Gad’s hill and Port Roosevelt are in East egg, Tom’s side of the two
How Nick rushes intuitively into the house.
“…like silver idols…” compare this drawing room scene with the one chapter one.
Daisy’s voice is full of money.
What do you make of “he wears a pink suit”?
There is no confusion like the confusion of a simple mind.
At what point do we realize that Daisy is not going to leave?
So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.
Tom’s actions as the wreck unfolds
The etymology of conspiracy
The reporter’s arrival: foreshadowing.
“So he invented just the of the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year–old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.”
“ferocious indifference to the drums of his destiny, to destiny itself”: the college didn’t seem to recognize that James Gatz was full of swag.
Madame de Maintenon.
(I know you are highly likely to see this name and not recognize it, and I know that you have the intellectual curiosity stop and take the 30 seconds it takes to look it up.)
When Tom and the two others show up unexpectedly on horseback, take note of the fickleness of social interaction, and Gatsby’s naivety in believing it.
“I’d rather look at all these famous people in – in oblivion.” The wisest thing Tom ever says.
Later, “Tom appeared from his oblivion”
Has Tom always womanized? What’s your evidence for that? (do you get the notion that “what’s your evidence for that” indicates that I might ask you for an essay on it?)
Daisy’s reaction to West Egg on page 108.
What is the etymology of “bootlegger”?
“And she doesn’t understand,” he said. “She used to be able to understand. We’d sit for hours – –”. Brother, I feel you.
“Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!” How does this tie into the clock on the mantelpiece?
Nick tries to form a phrase that won’t congeal, and is incommunicable forever. Deeply symbolic.