I hate this book. Let me rephrase: I hate all of the characters in this book, which, in turn, leads me to hate this book. I gave it one star for being a classic (and you must respect the classics even if you don’t enjoy them) and one star for being an iconic representation of the Jazz Age. Gatsby receives no stars for abuse, alcoholism, adultery, stalking, gold-digging, or the lavish nature of wasted money.
It’s 1922, West Egg, Long Island is populated by the neuvaeu riche and all the old money in East Egg hate them. It’s not just that the West Egg residents have made their money too recently to have any real social connections: it’s what they do with it. Prime example: Nick Carraway, the main character, lives next door to a large Gothic style mansions where parties happen every Saturday night. Just think about all the money that goes into throwing a small get together let alone one which fills a mansion.
Eventually we meet Daisy “The Gold-digger” Buchanen and her adulterous, violent husband Tom. Oh, what a happy marriage they have. Tom is having an affair with Myrtle Wilson, who will not only end up with a broken nose but will also get run over by a car. Poor Myrtle, back to Tom. Cheats on his wife, blames an innocent man for murdering his lover, beats women, bad guy, and so on. Here’s my favorite part: gets away with it. Keeps his wife, keeps his kids, keeps the house, the car, and the cash. All he has to do is live with it and from I’ve seen-I think he’ll do just fine.
Daisy’s turn. Who here objects to her being called a “gold-digger.” My high school English teacher took offense when I called her that. Sent me to the office and gave me detention. Daisy, however, is a “gold-digger” ’cause she ain’t messin’ with no broke–broke–.
Ah, Daisy. Daisy and Jay fell in love in 1917 back in Louisville. But why did she leave that “old sport?” Money. Poor Jay was in fact, poor Jay. So she wound up with Tom, her class equivalent. Now Jay’s back! And he comes with money! Oh, look at that, Daisy really does love Jay… well, at least his money any way. And Jay loves her right back, enough to cover for her when she performs a hit and run on poor Myrtle.
Jay Gatsby is a sad character. He throws parties to garner attention, he built a fortune by running speakeasies and other illegal activities, he stands out on the docks at night staring at the light at the end of Daisy’s dock… well now, that’s just weird. That doesn’t seem like a great thing to do at all. Seems shady. Seems morally incorrect. Well at least he covers for Daisy when she murders poor Myrtle. Wouldn’t want any one to be punished for something they had a direct hand in.
Oh, I almost forgot about the best part. Tom tells Myrtle’s husband, George, that Gatsby was the one who hit Myrtle, so that George comes to the conclusion that Gatsby was Myrtle’s lover. Then George gets up enough gumption to go to Gatsby’s mansion and shoot him. Take that dangling pronoun/antecedent problem however you want, it’s correct in both cases.
At least Nick learns his lesson that the American Dream is truly about wealth and not dreams.