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THE GREAT GATSBY by Francis Scott Fitzgerald

November 4, 2014

“He had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced, or seemed to face, the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself.”

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Nick Carraway is a young man from Minnesota who studied at one of the most prestigious Ivy League School. He decides to move to New York to learn about the bond business. He finds a house to rent in West Egg, Long Island right next to a mansion owned by Jay Gatsby a mysterious but really wealthy man who throws huge parties every weekend. West Egg is inhabited by the young “new rich” whereas East Egg is where the upper class is established. Nick has connections in this Island facing his, a cousin named Daisy and her husband Tom Buchannan, an old classmate of Nick’s.

Jordan Baker, Daisy’s friend, is being introduced to Nick; she almost directly tells him about Tom’s affair with Myrtle who is married to a garage owner. A few days later, Tom takes Nick to see Myrtle in the Valley of Ashes with whom they are going to a gloomy tasteless party. Tom eventually ends up breaking Myrtle’s nose after she evoked Daisy.

One day, Nick receives an invitation to one of his neighbors’ crazy and legendary party. Nobody knows who throws the parties, nobody knows who Gatsby is. Nick meets Gatsby, mistaking him at first, when he is being called in a private room. Gatsby is elegant, has a perfect English accent, has an incredible aura, and a perfect smile. Jordan and Nick are put in the confidence: Gatsby is madly in love with Daisy that he first met in Louisville in 1917 while a soldier. The two had a love story that Gatsby kept feeding for all those years. All those years of partying have only been motivated by Gatsby’s deep want to impress and make his presence known to Daisy. He is in fact staring at the green light at the end of the Buchanans’ dock, across the river splitting him apart from the love of his life. He wants both Jordan and especially Nick to help him win Daisy back. Nick has to organize a meeting between Gatsby and Daisy in his house: he invites her over for some tea without telling her the real reasons for this gathering.

Daisy arrives at Nick’s house, decorated with luxurious flowers and plants, and fancy tea and cookies all brought up by Gatsby who wants the meet to be absolutely as perfect as Daisy. Gatsby hesitates at the last minute, and after leaving the house once, goes back inside and faces everything he has been dreaming of. The scene is awkward, Daisy is confused but relieved, Gatsby is in Heaven and Nick is not sure about all that. Daisy and Gatsby reconnect, they are going on with what they had to give up 10 years ago, and he falls for Daisy all over again despite her engagement to Tom.

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Tom gets slowly more and more suspicious. His doubts are revealed to be true when he sees Gatsby staring at Daisy. Even though he is cheating on his wife, just the idea of imagining them together outrages him. Pretty hypocrit. After they had lunch together at the Buchanan’s house, they all go with Jordan and Nick in two separate cars to New York, where they meet in a huge suite in the Plaza Hotel. Tension is palpable. Tom starts off by announcing to both Daisy and Gatsby that he knows about their affair. He says to Gatsby that what he has with Daisy is something unique that he will never feel with her and that Daisy is his. He tries to debunk him by telling what he dug up on Gatsby: he is a felon; the money he made was from bootlegging alcohol and tobacco. Gatsby and Daisy are going back to East Egg.

Tom, Nick and Jordan drive back to East Egg in the other car and on the way, discovering that Gatsby’s car has hit Myrtle, the woman Tom had an affair with. Tom is devastated. Nick rushes to Gatsby to learn what happens when he tells him that it was not him but Daisy who was driving the car saying that it was going to help her calm down. Anyway, he is willing to take the blame to protect Daisy. Tom tells Myrtle’s husband the name of the owner of the car: Gatsby. George, instantly thinks that he must also be the one whom she had an affair with. He decides to get it over with and shoots Gatsby in the pool, then shoots himself.

Back to Nick, who throws a funeral for Gatsby, ends the story he had with Jordan and goes back to where he came from away from the drama and the craze of New Jersey. He doesn’t want to be around the decay and lack of morality he bordered.

I really liked this book because it is well written and accessible. The story is about the Roaring 20’s and the atmosphere of Gatsby’s parties is amazingly well transcribed. You can feel the extravaganza of the luxury, the sound of jazz and the alcohol flowing in the glasses. I liked the way the story is told, mostly through the innocent eyes of Nick, who is entirely new to the wealthy New Yorker society. We discover the fantasy of their lives as he does, making the story more vibrating and more alive.

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Léa

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