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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Harlem Renaissance Poems - A Blog Post

For the poetry project, my group chose to do the poems “I, Too” by Langston Hughes, “America” by Claude McKay, and “Incident” by Countee Cullen. After my group was assigned the project, Ani suggested a couple poems she had liked to Eric and I. Two poems of what she suggested were both written by poets from the Harlem Renaissance. From then on, we decided to find another poem to match the theme we had found.






















I was really drawn to "America" by Claude McKay because of his spherical perspective all throughout the poem. He examines America from multiple perspectives. Because McKay narrates the poem from his own perspective using his own experiences, he ultimately creates a successful poem that is respectful to America without hiding the truth or using euphemisms. The intense sensory images used in this poem creates an impactful and heart-felt experience for the reader.

In class we connected the overarching theme of being a black person in America which arises in all the poems to the novel
The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
In the post, I made another different connection that I wanted to share.
I thought of the transcendentalism unit we studied near the beginning of the year, specifically Emerson and Thoreau. Hughes, McKay, and Cullen all used details of experiences and their personal perceptions of it, very much like Emerson and Thoreau. Transcendentalists loved to write about their own experiences and let descriptions of their perceptions of events and their thoughts influence others. Emerson reflects upon the meaning his daily activities while Thoreau writes about his experiences going "off the map". Both authors attempt to provide insight about life to their audiences: Emerson on self-belief, self-confidence, and ultimately self-reliance, and Thoreau on the benefits of isolation. 

McKay tries to influence his readers similarly through his experiences of being a black man in the United States. He does not describe one single experience but uses intense imagery: "Although she feeds me bread of bitterness, / And sinks into my throat her tiger's tooth, / Stealing my breath of life, I will confess / I love this cultured hell that tests my youth." He ends the poem with, "Darkly I gaze into the days ahead, / And see her might and granite wonders there, / Beneath the touch of Time's unerring hand, / Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand." He shows his audience that despite the all the racism in America, if people worked hard enough and devoted their time to their cause, they can ultimately make America a better place. He has faith in America's future. As an audience, his imagery definitely strikes me, and the message demonstrated through this message definitely makes me reflect on my own identity as an Asian-American and the oppressions I've faced, as well as what I can do it improve America.

In "I, Too", Hughes also uses the imagery to describe his experience. Hughes describes, "I am the darker brother. / They send me to eat in the kitchen / When company comes, / But I laugh, / And eat well, / And grow strong. // Tomorrow, / I'll be at the table / When company comes." He states that, though today, people are looking down on him because he is black, he will work hard to change his place in society. At the end of the poem, he says, "I, too, am America." He believes that he is just as much as American as anyone else. This notion can provide reaffirmation to the reader, hence lead the reader to reflect in deep thought about their role in society as well. I think that Hughes also encourages his fellow black Americans to work hard in order stand up tomorrow in society through this poem.

Finally, Cullen's poem "Incident" illustrates a bad childhood summer experience. This experience is narrated in the second stanza. The blatant racism Cullen experienced in the poem shocks the reader. His reflections of how that event affected him can be seen in the third stanza: "I saw the whole of Baltimore / From May until December; Of all the things that happened there / That's all that I remember." Out of everything that happened that summer, the only thing he remembered was this probably careless incident (the other kid seemed to have done it as a joke: "poked out his tongue"). Careless actions can have detrimental impacts to someone's life, so detrimental that he even wrote about it years later. Cullen's awful experience has certainly made me think about my careless comments, and I think that I could say the same for other readers.

All of these writers utilized descriptions of experiences in order to improve the world in some way, and I think that truly shows the power of literature.