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February 20, 2006

Ashes and yellow windows

Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925) -- Jerz: American Lit II (EL 267)

“Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.”

I chose this line from the end of Chapter 3 probably due to recency, however, it stuck me with the same feeling as that of the line of advice about judging people in Chapter one. I suppose I felt it was foreshadowing and FSF would eventually tear down this Carraway truism before the book ends.

However, the book is so rich with lines I could post that nearly ever page has something to offer. I particularly like FSF’s descriptions about scenes or situations when he makes (through Carraway) a comparison.

His description of the valley of ashes at the beginning of Chapter 2 comes to mind. It continues on for a page and a half amid the mention of the pair of oversized spectacles still attached to the optometrist’s sign. I also enjoyed his description of the party in Tom/Mrs. Wilson’s apartment.

Here’s a good line: “Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

It’s lines like that that keep people reading this book. Lines that are not only well planned and well written, (I can picture him writing that line over and over until he gets it the way he wants it) but also probe our understanding of things. Well done, old sport!

Posted by MattHampton at February 20, 2006 10:00 AM


You express this well, Matt, when you say that FSF would probably "tear down this Carraway truism before the book ends." There is a ton of foreshadowing throughout the novel. Although I've never read it before, I don't expect Daisy and Gatsby to ride off into the sunset; I'm just wondering how tragic it's going to be (Please don't give away the ending yet in these blogs-you'll ruin it for me!). FSF's little insight into Carraway's self-perception stuck out for me too, and I'm curious to see how his role as semi-involved narrator plays out. Don't we all beleive that we are supremely honest (giving ourselves a little more slack than we may give others)? Gatsby made a ton of $$ living a life based on a lie. I see Carraway's comment as THE seperation point from Gatsby, and thereby, have more hope for Carraway to survive this novel intact.

Posted by: Brenda Christeleit at February 20, 2006 10:54 AM

I agree with you that Fitzgerald's text is littered with little gems like the one you pointed out; I'm always amazed at the smooth flow of this story when I read it, too.

Posted by: ChrisU at February 21, 2006 08:46 AM

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