Loss of Innocence

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The pharse from The Great Gatsby, chapter 5, page 86, "turned sharply  as if he were on a wire", appeals to the sense that Gatsby knows that he is in sense walking on a tightrope and the slightest slip can cause a great fall.  Gatsby knowing that he feels the great excitement to see Daisy again after a very long pause between the time they have seen one another last, but now also realizing that one mistake and slip and he could fall and lose what intrigues Daisy about him.   As a child would be afraid of falling say from a bicycle and afraid to carry on with it, just as Gatsby is almost in a sense scared to carry on a conversation with Daisy in fear that he will not lure in her interest.  As in Foster chapter 7, page 49, "every story about the loss of innocence is really about someone's private reenactment of the fall from grace, since we experience it not collectively but individually and subjectively."  The way that Gatsby is walking around the room is portraying his demeanor like a child.  The hands in the pockets and standing like he is not actually excited or interested mimics as when a child is trying to act disinterested in what's going on in a room but circles and gets closer and closer until they are finally sitting in the room and engaged in what is actually going on, such as when he finally sits down, rigidly as it may be.  Gatsby's walking around the house and his moves through this section show how he was trying very diligently to try to still portray the Oxford educated socialite, but realizes that once he is in Daisy's presence that he cannot maintain that and the fumbling young love-struck man now surfaces.  Gatsby leaving the living room and than resurfacing to knock at the door, as described on page 85-86 as a "dignified" knock supports that he was still trying to assume his position of power to show Daisy how well he has done for himself.  As he enters and "stalked" by Nick into the hall, this description shows that he has an obsessive behaviour and love for Daisy.  Gatsby's movements show that his theatrical qualities have fallen away and he now is showing the vulnerable & genuine side of him.  As in Foster chapter 7, page 50, "the thing about loss-of innocence stories, the reason they hit so hard is that they are so final.  You can never go back."  Nothing seems as sacred as the lost innocence of a child, that first love and forgiveness. 


The character of Gatsby is surrounded by intrigue. The only things we know for sure about him are that he has transformed himself into the persona of Jay Gatsby – rich, elite, host of glamorous parties. Apart from this we discover his unwavering love for Daisy Buchanan. But further than this, we are lost. What comes across in the novel is mainly Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy. It is only for her and her love that he has gone through such lengths to live near her, be the man she would want him to be and have the lifestyle she would be comfortable with. Gatsby ends up idealizing her to the extent that Daisy (or few others for that matter) would ever be able to live up to. Nick is spot on when he says that Gatsby is stuck on the past. But Gatsby is incredulous at these assumptions and plunders on … trying to stretch towards the future and the ‘green light’ but in vain. I found some interesting insights about Jay Gatsby and the other characters in the novel in Shmoop-literature study guide. Might be worth a read for some new ideas.

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