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Great Gatsby Chapter 9 notes

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Introduction

CHAPTER NINE Fitzgerald draws his novel to its conclusion. This chapter allows him to make his final comment on the corrupt and destructive side of the American Dream. On one level it could be said that Gatsby represents the success story of the American Dream - the epitome of the stereotypical ascent from 'rags to riches'. He drives his own fortune and prosperity acquiring great wealth and material possessions; but , ultimately, his dream fails anyway. Fitzgerald makes it abundantly clear just how distorted the collective vision of society had become with regard to the accumulation of wealth and the influence of mass media - represented by the eyes of T J Eckleburg. Such materialistic goals had overtaken the more altruistic and virtuous pursuits inherent in the original interpretation of the American Dream. In this chapter the reader senses Nick's great sense of despair, disillusionment and disgust. He is appalled by the behaviour he encounters in his preparation for Gatsby's funeral: 'I found myself on Gatsby's side and alone.' After all the parties he had thrown for a countless trail of guests who paraded through his house 'Nobody came.' The reader has now experienced Nick's journey, his voyage - note the sea imagery to which he refers in the final lines of the novel. ...read more.

Middle

just like the 'fowl dust' which 'floated in the wake of his (Gatsby's) dreams'. The East represents capitalism and consumerism and indeed corruption of American society. The West was presumably still relatively innocent rating homespun values and the happiness of the individual. Nick is able to see this - but he is the only character in the novel who does. The East has 'a quality of distortion'. Again, Fitzgerald juxtaposes the recurring adjectives, 'grotesque' and 'fantastic', once more alluding to the impossible dream with reality: 'West Egg, especially, still figures in my more fantastic dreams...a hundred houses, at once conventional and grotesque, crouching under a sullen, over-hanging sky and lustreless moon.' There is no romantic presentation of this location for Nick - the place is given an eerie, dismal atmosphere, where the houses are personified as shrinking away from this depressing, all-consuming locale. Notably it is here Nick talks about the anonymous woman in white whom I have pointed out before: '...four solemn men in dress suits are walking along the sidewalk with a stretcher on which lies a drunken woman in a white evening dress. Her hand, which dangles over the side, sparkles cold with jewels. Gravely the men turn in at a house - the wrong house. ...read more.

Conclusion

Yet 'Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by yea recedes before us.' The green light here symbolises the dreams and hopes of society 'It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther...And one fine morning -' Nick refers here to the dreamer in all of us. He conveys the human need to dream, to be inspired, to be challenged. Yet, he knows it's important to be able to draw a line between the dream and reality - something Gatsby could never do. 'So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.' We are all inextricably linked with our pasts - the past shapes the future. We know this obviously from history. Gatsby insisted on living in the past - his past with Daisy. Daisy could not isolate him from his past; he remained socially unworthy of her. Can any of us really escape the past. America itself struggled to shake off her more rigid European connections before the declaration of independence. Furthermore, the American Dream has become part of its past - a part of American history which no longer exists in the same way as it did then. The dream is impossible and this is what makes Gatsby's plight so tragic. ...read more.

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