Liberal Arts Education?

| | Comments (3)
It didn't take me too long reading Gatsby before I found a topic that stirred me to put the book down and come type an entry. In fact, it happened on page four. Our narrator, whose name I haven't yet learned (I assume that I will in later pages) makes a statement with which I disagree vehemently. In fact, I expect everyone of us to disagree with it, because after all, why else would we all be pursing a liberal arts education.

The narrator, when discussing how literary he was in college and the prospect of bringing literature back into his life, states "I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the "well-rounded man." This isn't just an epigram- life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all."

There are very few statements with which I disagree so adamantly. I could write an entire paper on the concept of the well rounded man. I could spend multiple blog entries explaining why I deem it important not just to study your trade, but to be proficient in history, philosophy, literature, and the other arts. However, the fact that each of us is attending a liberal arts institution leads me to believe that such an argument would be moot. I would expect nearly all of you agree with me.

No, what really has me miffed about our narrator isn't the statement itself. While I disagree with it, I can to an extent begin to see how and why someone might argue against me. But that's exactly what bothers me about it. Our narrator doesn't argue his point. He doesn't explain why he believes that we are better off not "well rounded" and he doesn't elaborate on this concept of looking at the world through a single window.

Going deeper, the narrator doesn't even explain why he is pursuing this well rounded-ness. In the same paragraph that he tells us, the reader, that he is bringing books into his life to become the well rounded man, he goes on to describe that approach to life as inferior. Maybe I need to read more (four pages is a bit early to be making conclusions of course) but I see this flagrant contradiction and can't help but wonder what other examples of flawed thinking we will see from our narrator as the novel progresses.



Juli Banda said:

Carlos, I agree with you on the point that it is boring to only look through one window. I also did notice this quote when I first started reading but I really didn't think much of it. Now that you pointed it out, it bothers me as well that he did not back up his point. Maybe later in the book the narrator may bring up the point again and explain himself in detail...but I not gonna get my hopes up.

Joshua WIlks said:

I feel that he doesnt argue his point on purpose. At this point in the book we are relying totally on the narrator to relay anything and everything we are to know and find out in the book. The way the things are said is probably just as important as what is said. From the way that we are told things we gain an interesting insight into the narrator beyond that of what we are told specifically.

"Our narrator doesn't argue his point." Why doesn't he? Is Nick the kind of person who would feel the need to argue? He certainly seems to disapprove of Tom, but he never speaks out against him.

Leave a comment

Type the characters you see in the picture above.


February 2009

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28


  • blogroll