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The Griffin

Classic perseveres as a favorite

photo reproduced with permission of SparkNotes

Anna Yan, Staff writer

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New York is supposed to be the land of dreams, but that couldn’t be further from the truth in “The Great Gatsby.”

Quickly approaching its 100th anniversary, the novel tells the story of millionaire Jay Gatsby and his desire to win the heart of Daisy Buchanan. It’s short, only nine chapters. But there’s a reason F. Scott Fitzgerald is famous, and in 47,000 words, he was able to create complex characters that I either loved or hated-there was no neutral grounds, and really, wasn’t that just the epitome of a great story?

One example of this would be Daisy Buchanan, Nick’s cousin, Tom’s wife, and Gatsby’s past lover. She is a girl in the 1920s, trying to survive in a male dominated society. She knows Tom is cheating, but she cannot divorce him for it. Her situation inspires pity in me, but that’s it. There’s really no good excuse to pin a murder on someone, then refuse to come to his funeral when he is killed for your sins.

Otherwise, her characterization, and everyone else’s, is vague, and that was purposeful. The “Great Gatsby” was meant to apply to everyone, even people in the 21st century. Gatsby, in particular, is only described by his smile. As such, it implies that the American Dream isn’t just limited to a white man; it can be achieved by an Indian woman.

(Open interpretation isn’t always so inspiring. There are theories that Gatsby is actually Jack Dawson from “The Titanic,” which, um…)

That is, if the dream actually exists. Gatsby, as the protagonist, falls unexpectedly short of reaching the dream. And well, that was the whole point, wasn’t it? In the Roaring Twenties, economic booms led to excess wealth, but the war created cynical men. Fitzgerald, disillusioned by the terrors in Europe, criticized this empty pursuit of wealth for corrupting the American Dream. And if the novel is still supposed to apply today, then how much of the dream is left?

Well, hopefully we wouldn’t repeat the past.

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