Gatsby Check-In: Chapters 1-3

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Gatsby Check-In: Chapters 1-3

I have to confess that I still need to read one more chapter. I try and pace it so that I finish at the right time so I don't forget what I'm reading...Anyway I'll be back later with my thoughts, but if you have anything to say about the start of the novel leave it below.

I guess I can comment on the ashes city. Is it the valley of ashes? It struck me as being weirdly fantastical, all these ashes falling. I realize that it's supposed to be metaphoric, but it seems really heavy handed.

Just having spent time around NYC, It's amazing, there is basically a belt all the way around the city- in NJ, the outer boroughs, even on LI, of poverty, corruption, crime and you're literally 10 miles from the center of it all on Manhattan. This is even today. I would imagine 100 years ago it was the same setup only lower tech.
So I think the valley of ashes symbolizes all the crap that all the working stiffs have to mire through to get to the promised land and a daily reminder to the haves as they're riding the train or in their cars from their palatial spreads out in the 'burbs to their fancy offices and appointments, of the poor working class stiffs that do the grunt work. But it probably was pretty literal too, with all the potash and soot and gunk that would be created by coal to keep everything else running and keep the nicer areas pristine. Poor suckers.

My takeaway from the first three chapters was that Fitzgerald did a lousy job of making the reader sympathetic to Daisy and her circle. I really felt like they were all entitled, shallow, brats.
Does anyone think Tom actually loved Myrtle or did he want to keep her as a pet? She seems like a strange choice for an affair.
AND what is the deal with Nick's drunken remembrance of "...I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands." with regards to Mr. McKee?

This is fleshed out after chapter three, but I also get the feeling that Gatsby new EXACTLY who Nick was in relation to Daisy before they ever met each other. How much of that could be coincidence if it was Nick's supposed roommate that found the cottage on West Egg?

Can't stop for a long post tonight - have my parents staying and we are off out to the village Food Fair in an hour smiley I thought the "ashes" were just that - ashes and rubbish dumped and possibly waiting for landfill sites; an ugly, depressing area where the poor who could not afford Long Island made their home. If it was meant to mean more, he failed to convey that to me.

I agree with Tiffany and I'd go further - I do not think there was a single sympathetic character in the whole book. I think Tom had Myrtle because he thought someone in his position "should" have a mistress and she was available. There seemed to be no real feeling for her. I think he also liked the fact that she was of a lower social class and she looked up to him. He could play the big provider. I found Tom terribly odd anyway - we are told too little about him (I may repeat that phrase A LOT as I found the whole thing too "thin" for my liking) - we know of none of his associates other than the weird life with Myrtle.

I'll be back ... smiley

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought they were shallow, entitled brats! The whole lot of them irritates me incredibly, I feel the same now about them as I did in high school when I read the book first.

It's weird that Tom chose Myrtle, especially since they're in different classes but it does make sense in the "big provider" way that Dawn mentioned. I think Tom's choice of people for his "other" life away from Daisy is just incredibly weird. Really just a whole big bundle of weird.

I like the story as a whole but I really can't stand any of the characters, besides Gatsby, but even he gets on my nerves sometimes.

I don't think we're really meant to like any of them, except possibly Gatsby, and Nick as the narrator. I don't think Fitzgerald had a lot of respect for the class he was representing in the novel.

Dawn, you mentioned disliking Nick as the device through which the story is told. And while I'm certainly not against having more details and fuller characters, I think most of the story revolves around the flatness and mystique of the characters. If you had them narrating, they'd lose their flatness, which I think is part of the story. I think due to Fitzgerald's seeming bias against the lifestyle he portrays, he doesn't believe them really capable of depth (in Daisy's case) and Gatsby's character is really reliant on his mystique, so you couldn't have him narrate his own story. It would make the novel completely different to see inside his head. Fitzgerald needed some sort of outside voice to tell the story I think because he also didn't like any of the characters (besides Gatsby).

This is an odd book, so far I am not enjoying it. I agree with the comments above. It seems rather monotonous and dull. Even the broken nose doesn't seem to break the surface. The bedroom memory mentioned above is odd, but as I said it is an odd book. So far the author has skimmed over the surface over both characters and story. Let's hope it improves.

I quite like Nick as the narrator Marisa - I think it was Tiffany who did not. I find that I am conflicted by this book. I admire the writing and have little interest in the story?!

I like the period this is set in and some of Fitzgerals descriptions of the excesses of that era are fabulous. He comes out with some very inciteful similies and metaphors and witty remarks but at times the text can be a little too littered and over-blown with literary gems which, for me, weighs it down and slows the pace. He writes exquisite sentences yet fails to engage my interest in any of the characters.

I think part of the problem for me is that it is so short - more a novella - and I like to get to know a charcter and to care about them in some way - good or bad. These seemed like caricatures of people - cardboard cut outs somehow.

I found the first chapter slow - I just re-read it and it was better second time through but it certainly felt slow the first time round. I prefered chapters 2 and 3.

I have no idea why Tom - a man who has everything and takes whatever he wants in life would chose Myrtle as his mistress and I was cross with Nick that he would go off and spend the day with Tom and Myrtle given that he's Daisy's second cousin! I also do not know what Nick sees in Jordan - she's so laid back she's almost in a coma and she seems very boring to me. There does not seem to be any sort of spark between them yet we are to believe that he's partly in love with her. I felt most engaged with the poor puppy - who is going to look after him when Myrtle and Tom are not playing happy families and none of them are fit to look after a dog anyay - I'd probably worry for Daisy's child too if it figured more in the text.

I liked the mystery surrounding Gatsby's origins and the idea that someone would just have open house parties. I looked up some of the photos of the mansions that he may have based this on and they are amazing!!!!

Of course I would post in the wrong place. Marisa, can you delete my empty comment in the sticky, please?

I'll chime in quick (so you know I'm reading!) And post something more substantial later.

I don't believe Fitzgerald wanted the characters to be flattering. He was part of this group who was extravagant. And even though he knew it and mocked it, he was still a part of it.

Tom owned things, and that's how he saw his world. He owned a house. He owned polo ponies. He owned his wife, and he owned Myrtle. Anything he wanted, he owned. Money bought him everything. There is nothing he can't have.

I agree with you about Tom owning things and buying everything he wanted.

What strikes me most in the first chapters, is the anti-semitism. Somehow I knew of course that this was not a German phenomenon in that time. But it surprised me somehow, how open Tom and Daisy emphasize the nordic race. For this reason alone I can not find them likeable.

I am only on chapter 4 yet - yes, late again - but one of the most odd things in my opinion are the widspread use of cars and telephones - ok, they are talking about the richest possible, but, for me, it´s still difficult to imagine this "high-tech" things on the 20´s, specially the telephone - probably because here in Brazil they took too long to become common...

On other things, I agree with you - It´s hard to attach to characters, they don´t inspire affection or dissatisfaction. And the story is like "where is this plot going"?

Trying to catch up. I'm not enjoying the book this time around anymore than I did in high school. So far I don't find any of the characters interesting. I am quite concerned for Daisy's child and that poor puppy. None of these people should be raising kids or having pets. They are far too shallow and self serving. Tom's choice of Myrtle as his mistress is odd considering that he clearly wants to show her off, but she's also clearly of lower status. I suspect that he's flaunting the fact that he has enough money to do as he wishes. I also agree that they all seem quite spoiled and selfish. Nick is clearly overwhelmed and willing to allow others to dictate his role to him.