Thursday, June 2, 2016

Reflection

I've learnt a lot this year in English class, and overall, I enjoyed it a lot. Honestly, I can't remember the start of this year very well, but I remember reading the Scarlet Letter and enjoying it. Junior year was certainly a year for growth for me in English; I improved my writing skills through many practices and reading skills by training myself to read texts more carefully. I also think that I got better at reading poetry by the end of the year – something I've had quite a bit of struggle with. Also, junior winter was honestly a struggle for me but I'm glad I made it out alive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As I look back on my blog and reflect on my past year, Emerson and Fitzgerald were two pieces of texts that stood out to me the most, and I say this not just because I wrote my essay on Fitzgerald and Emerson. I loved Emerson and Fitzgerald as two separate entities. Emerson's compact philosophical essay "Self-Reliance" really spoke to me. I enjoyed the contemplative nature of the essay, and I could make lots of connections to it. The Great Gatsby was another piece of literature that really interested me. I enjoyed the heavily emphasized theme of social class, because it's not one of those topics that are often discussed (and certainly should be).

When I head into senior year, I will continue to think about different traits each character possesses that makes them both "good" and "bad", and pay more attention to detail. It's amazing how much your perspective can change when you look at a tiny detail and try to figure out a meaning for it. Details also contribute to illustrating complex and dynamic characters whose dual character traits can be explored to come to a bigger meaning of the character's existence in the context of the novel.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Gatsby Book & Baz Luhrmann Movie Comparison

Though I was not in class on Tuesday, I did watch part of Baz Luhrmann's version of The Great Gatsby on Wednesday.
Out of all the parts of the movie I watched, the scene that struck me most was where Daisy and Gatsby met at Nick's house for the first time in 5 years. Fitzgerald writes, "At eleven o’clock a man in a raincoat dragging a lawn-mower tapped at my front door and said that Mr. Gatsby had sent him over to cut my grass" (Fitzgerald 83). I remember that in the movie there was way more than one lawn-mower. I recall Nick opening up his front door to see his entire front lawn renovated by numerous gardeners (as pictured below). The numerous amounts of lawnmowers play into Gatbsy's lavish and excessive ways. It is interesting to note that there are black gardeners in this scene. In the book, the subject of race only ever arises in conversation during that one dinner at the beginning of the novel where Tom talks about "the Rise of the Colored Empires". In the movie, Luhrmann reminds us that there is a world that exists out of the white upper class.


Also, when Nick describes that "The flowers were unnecessary, for at two o’clock a greenhouse arrived from Gatsby’s, with innumerable receptacles to contain it" (Fitzgerald 85), I would have never imagined the scene in the movie. Though Gatsby explains that the flowers he brought home were unnecessary, the word "greenhouse" didn't resonate with me as a room completely filled with white flowers. Although this difference is an interpretive difference, I think it really changes my perception of that chapter. I thought that the room would be a lot emptier. Yet, the numerous flowers are in line with Gatsby's extravagant ways, so overall, I think Luhrmann made a great choice implementing the flowers.


Overall, I enjoyed the movie (the parts that I watched) and I'd say that it was very accurate. Though, I was thrown off by the characters' mannerisms because they didn't really look like what I'd imagined. I cannot pinpoint what exactly I had imagined while reading the book, but these characters were not exactly it, though I do think the actors did a very good job portraying the characters.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Gatsby's Death/The End

Many surprises appeared in last week's reading. Today, I'd like to explore Gatsby's relationship with those around him and Tom's relationship with Daisy through events related to Gatsby's death.

I found Gatsby's death quite surprising, but even more tragic. Fitzgerald really hit me when he wrote "Nobody came." (Fitzgerald 174) at the scene of Gatsby's funeral. These two short words exemplify Gatsby's role in the lives of those around him. To the party goers, Gatsby's house is just another place. His presence at those parties is also nonexistent as mentioned near the beginning of the novel, "Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all, came for the party with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission" (Fitzgerald 41), which explains why no party goers attended his funeral. I was extremely saddened when Klipspringer called only in attempt to retrieve his shoes. From my perception, Klipspringer seems to have spent DAYS or even longer at Gatsby's house; yet, he wouldn't even attend the funeral. People just came to and left Gatsby's house completely regardless of Gatsby. Hence, if we believe that Gatsby worked hard for his house for Daisy, people's disregard of Gatsby's house shows the lack of worth of the house in Daisy's eyes. Daisy's devaluation of Gatsby's house bring me to my next point that Gatsby worths nothing to Daisy. I can't believe she didn't even attend his funeral. Daisy's absence at Gatsby's funeral leads me to believe that she never loved him in the first place.

Tom and Nick's encounter on fifth avenue also struck me; Tom seemed to be so clueless about what actually happened that day. Tom also tells Nick that Gatsby "ran over Myrtle like you'd run over a dog and never even stopped his car" (Fitzgerald 178). Given what we know, this event further reinforces that Tom and Daisy do not adequately communicate or at least speak the truth with each other. To me, Daisy's irresponsibility represents her "bubbly" and "deceiving" personality. She thinks that she can get away with anything she does by manipulating others into obeying her orders. Perhaps Daisy convinced Tom to get away to flee from the crime scene and punishment. Her gift of deception not only embodies her arguable intelligence but also strengthen societal values of materialism at the time. At the end of the day, I think that Daisy manipulates others to keep her high status and to remain pampered.

Some afterthoughts:
I loved the novel and all the messages Fitzgerald tried to convey through it. The unexpected plot developments really kept the book interesting to me. I can't wait to delve further into the novel in class to learn even more.
 
This picture is interesting because I never thought of Gatsby's pool to look like that. The pool seems simpler than what I had envisioned.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Revisiting a Previous Blog Post

Last week, I made several speculations in my blog post about Nick and Gatsby that I now will confirm or refute.

For Gatsby, we learn that his background is most likely made up. By telling Nick that all of his family members are dead, Nick has no way to confirm Gatsby's background as it would be impossible to find a trace of it. Also, sometimes, Gatsby has no idea what he is talking about; "San Francisco" is not quite the "mid-west". He has made these kinds of mistakes repeatedly as well – Venice is not a capital in Europe either. Gatsby's factually incorrect statements further reinforces the suspicion of his (probably) lies.

We also learn about Gatsby's true identity. Gatsby's tells Nick, "Oh, I've been in several things... I was in the drug business and then I was in the oil business. But I'm not in either one now" (Fitzgerald 90). We now know for a fact that Gatsby works in the illegal alcohol business. Right before where we left off from last night's reading, Tom yells at Gatsby, "‘I found out what your ‘drug stores’ were.’ He turned to us and spoke rapidly. ‘He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter" (Fitzgerald 133). Gatsby concretely establishes that he dealt grained alcohol and confirms our previous speculations.

I have also mentioned in my comments on my previous blog post, but Nick actually gets very close to Gatsby. Turns out I was completely wrong about Gatsby and Nick keeping the distance between each other. Gatsby lets Nick into deeper parts of his past, though very much arguably in order to get to Daisy.  A lot of chapter six touches on Gatsby's past. My readings have additionally supported my argument that Gatsby only interacted with Nick as a means to get to Daisy. Gatsby can indeed build a meaningful relationship with Gatsby if he wanted to, but he only wants to build one with Daisy.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Gatsby Part 2

So last week I wrote about my wonders and inquiries regarding Mr. Jay Gatsby. Through this week's reading, all my questions are now answered!!!!!!!!!

We learn that though Gatsby initially inherits his wealth, he loses it during the war and rebuilds his wealth through various means after the war. Gatsby's new wealth could be a possibility of why he lives on the less established West Egg. Gatsby also mentions that his inherited wealth comes from San Francisco in the "Middle West"(which in my opinion is just west). His ancestry plays into the juxtaposition between east and west since people from the west tend to have less of the long standing power and tradition of those from the east.
As for Gatsby's interest in Nick, we learn that Gatsby and Daisy were old flames before the war. One reason for Gatsby's eagerness for Nick's friendship could very well be Nick's connection to Daisy.

Today, I want to examine the relationship between Nick and Gatsby through the way they address each other. Last week, I talked about how Gatsby always addresses Nick as "old sport". For a brief recap, Gatsby's use of "old sport" signifies respect and friendliness towards Nick but not in a snobbish way an East Egger would act (cough cough Tom). I noticed that, so far in the novel, Gatsby does not address Nick as "Nick" a single time; he only uses the phrase "old sport". Also, Nick's address to Gatsby as "Gatsby" stood out to me increasingly as I read. Let me explain myself – when Nick narrates, he most often uses people's first names to identify them, for example: Tom, Daisy, etc. Of course he does sometimes address people he doesn't know very well with prefixes and last names, but for someone as "close" to him as Gatsby is, I wonder why it is that he constantly refers to him as "Gatsby" instead of "Jay".

Although I don't have a concrete answer to the questions from above, I do have some speculations. First and foremost, I don't completely believe that Gatsby genuinely wants to build a strong relationship with Nick. Instead, Gatsby probably just uses Nick as a means to get to Daisy. On the other hand, maybe Gatsby cannot build a lasting relationship with Nick because of his background. Gatsby is very secretive about his businesses and responds to Nick with "That's my affair" when Nick asks him. After realizing his rudeness, Gatsby corrects, "Oh, I've been in several things... I was in the drug business and then I was in the oil business. But I'm not in either one now"(Fitzgerald 90). Gatsby's ways of doing business seems to cause him to shift around quite often (drugs to oil to now in a presumably short amount of time), and to build a long relationship with someone under that situation would just hurt both parties because you never know when he might just leave and disappear one day. By never addressing Nick as "Nick", Gatsby draws a line to prevent extreme depth of their friendship.

I realized that he never calls Gatsby "Jay" when Daisy calls Gatsby "Jay" in chapter 5. As to why Nick calls Gatsby, "Gatsby", instead of Jay, I think it goes way back to chapter 1. At the very beginning of the novel, Nick writes: "Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction[dislike for people he met during his time in Long Island]—Gatsby who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away"(Fitzgerald 2). I think that Gatsby's mystique deeply intrigues Nick, which is why Nick chooses to use Gatsby's last name to address him. Nick personally thinks that he cannot see through Gatsby unlike everyone else around him. The distance created through addressing Gatsby as his last name symbolizes the wall to Gatsby's heart that Nick will probably never break.

As I end here on this note, I'm excited to see what next week's reading will bring to me.

Here's a pic of Tobey Maguire in an editorial and a gentle encounter between Daisy and JAY.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Gatsby

After we learn that Gatsby lives right next to Nick in chapter 1, we finally hear his first words in chapter 3 and get a face to face introduction. Upon finishing chapter 3, I am particularly intrigued by Gatsby's peculiar existence.

First of all, Gatsby's extravagant parties clearly demonstrate his affluence, so why does he live on West Egg?
West Egg                                            East Egg
- less fashionable                                - where everyone wants to be
- poorer                                               - beautiful
- more rural                                         - more established
Upon some gathering of class notes and googling, East Egg seems to be the side of old money whereas West Egg was more "new money". This idea reflects a discussion we had in class where we talked about how the east of the United States symbolized old money and tradition, while the west represented new money and innovation. Earlier in the novel, Nick describes Gatsby's mansion as "a factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy" (Fitzgerald 5). The fact that his house imitates a hotel shows the excessiveness that is typically associated with "the poor taste of new money". Though, so far in the novel, Nick seems to heavily admire Gatsby, he clearly does not think Gatsby has great taste as demonstrated through his language. At the average Gatsby party as described by Nick, "the halls and salons and verandas are gaudy with primary colors, and hair shorn in strange new ways," (Fitzgerald 40). When I think of "gaudy" and bright primary colors, I certainly do not think of taste. Actually, primary colors ever seem a little childish to me, like the way a "new money" person would spend their money, recklessly, like a child.

Secondly, I thought it was strange that Gatsby would take interest in Nick at all. After all, they seem to be from different tiers of society, despite the fact that they are neighbors. Even Nick sounds surprised when he narrates: "I had been actually invited... He had seen me several times, and had intended to call on me long before, but a peculiar combination of circumstances had prevented it – signed Jay Gatsby, in a majestic hand" (Fitzgerald 41). Gatsby's somewhat unusual interest in Nick makes me question his own background and the source of his wealth.

Yet, when Gatsby speaks in chapter 3, he demonstrates properness and manner, which isn't the first thing people think of when they hear "new money". On top of Gatsby's politeness, he also often uses the words "old sport", which according to the internet is used as a term of endearment to address equals. He even goes so far as to invite Nick to fly the hydroplane. Gatsby's strong interest in Nick and their exchanges once again make me question Gatsby's past.

After we've established Gatsby's wealth as "new money" wealth, what is the real truth about Gatsby and his wealth? There has been a lot of talk about it at the party. Can Gatsby's courteous mannerisms mask the truth of his past????? What is the truth of his past??????????? What are his true motives of becoming closer with Nick???????? Tune in next week to see what else I find out as I read!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Daisy

In Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Daisy has the perfect name because her being so much resembles the flower, daisies, but only on the surface. As we read into chapter one, we discover that Daisy is very different from what Nick and Tom make her out to be. The daisy flower most often symbolizes purity, innocence, and joy. From the "rippling and fluttering" white dress, to her "bright eyes" and "bright passionate mouth" (Fitzgerald 8-9), Daisy sure seems very bright all around. Her bubbly personality shines through her words; Nick describes that "a stirring warmth flowed from her" (Fitzgerald 14). Fitzgerald even portrays her with a pinch of stupidity: "'Tom's getting very profound,' said Daisy, with an expression of unthoughtful sadness. 'He reads deep books with long words in them'" (Fitzgerald 13). Through Nick's lenses, she appears to be the girl with simple thoughts who does not dabble in "guys' endeavors". 


Yet, Daisy's facade soon disappears when she is out of Tom's presence. After Tom's alleged extramarital affair is revealed to us, our perspectives on Daisy shift, like Nick. Nick "saw that turbulent emotions possessed her" (Fitzgerald 16) after the phone incident of which Tom's mistress calls the mansion. Shortly after, when Daisy and Nick are alone, her true colors show. She talks about her child and Tom's absence. Daisy makes the comment, "I hope she'll be a fool – that's the best thing a  girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool" (Fitzgerald 17) about her child that strikes me. Under the surface of her innocence and simplicity lies wisdom and sense. Her statement tells me that she has experienced the other side of being a beautiful little fool. That event is very much part of the bad things she has gone through, which leads her to her cynical point of view.

Below are two thoughts I had while reading this chapter:
- Though Nick isn't extremely rich himself, he finds himself in comfort being around rich people. His comfort of being around so many rich people despite everything around him is unfamiliar is very strange.
- How I feel about the blatant sexism in this novel so far: ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?. At first, I thought Fitzgerald was very sexist through his descriptions because he portrayed women almost as commodities for me and very surface animals, but I soon scratched that out. It is only his portrayal of women through Nick's lenses that make them seem so. I appreciate Fitzgerald for portraying Daisy as a multidimensional female character who, beneath the surface, knows a lot more than she lets on. The exterior obedience that Daisy demonstrates to Tom is really annoying. Tom seems like an asshole. Also, both Daisy and Jordan get cut off, while speaking, by the men very often, which shows the inequality between men and women that exists. Both the women's absence of objection to those actions and the men's action of doing it in the first place demonstrates this inequality.

That's all I have for now. Thanks for tuning in! See you next week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!