I must be the only person who didn’t read this in school, but I finally did! I have to say, I think I may have enjoyed it more in a classroom-like setting. After finishing, I had to go on Sparknotes to really understand a couple of things.
So, The Great Gatsby is about Jay Gatsby, a mysteriously-rich neighbor of the narrator, Nick Carraway. Nick and Gatsby become somewhat close friends, and Nick soon learns that Gatsby is in love with an acquaintance of Nick’s, Daisy Buchanan. Nick knows Daisy and her husband Tom (he also knows that Tom is cheating on Daisy). Gatsby and Daisy were in love years ago, and he’s never given up hope on winning her back. Nick arranges a meeting between them, and from there the story really picks up…
I can’t tell if I think Gatsby is a hopeless romantic, or a greedy weirdo. I’m leaning towards a mix of both. Gatsby works for years to build up an impressive wealth, and he’s been pining away for years for the (inherently) wealthy Daisy. While it’s hard to say whether he really loves her, or loves the status and wealth that she represents, his feelings appear to be strong and true and for that, I felt for him. I guess however that the story isn’t so much about them, as much as it’s about money, social status, and the difference between new money and old money back in the day.
I’m a bit torn on Fitzgerald’s writing style – some lines were beautiful and you could be caught up in such a great scene. And then some lines were just confusing and I either had to go back and re-read something, or had to just kind of wait and see what happened (and failing that, I just finished the book and then went on Sparknotes). And maybe it’s because I was expecting the story to be so much about the Gatsby-Daisy-Tom-Nick-Jordan love stories that I kind of missed all of the apparently important messages about status and money in this time period. That’s why I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had been reading it in high school – I didn’t really catch some of the meaning of the elements in the story until I read some analysis stuff Sparknotes.
Though I was unsure of how I felt about it throughout the whole book, the last half definitely picked up the pace a bit, and I actually cared what happened to the characters. And I can see myself reading this again in a couple years and appreciating it more the second time around.