April 30, 2013

The Great Gatsby Readalong...Chapters 3 and 4

Becky has asked some more questions as we read the next 2 chapters in The Great Gatsby.  This is a re-read so I am trying not to let what I know is going to happen influence my perceptions when I answer these questions!

What do you think of Gatsby absence from his own parties?
I think the reason Gatsby is absent, especially emotionally, is because the only reason he is throwing them is that he’s hoping Daisy will make an appearance, which she never does.  Gatsby cannot enjoy the party because the one person he wants there is missing.  When Nick looks over at him and Gatsby seems to be staring off into space, I think he is thinking of and longing for Daisy. 

Is Gatsby a character you feel sympathy or cynicism towards?
I think there is so much mystery surrounding Gatsby, even after we found out that he is hung up on another man’s wife, and why, that it is hard for me to determine whether I sympathize with him right now. 

Are we supposed to feel for Daisy as Jordan does, and if she really wanted to meet up with Gatsby again, wouldn’t she already have done it?

I think there is a reason Daisy is with Tom and not Gatsby, but I don’t believe it has much to do with loving Tom more.  In fact, I think it has something to do with what was in the letter she received the day before she married Tom.  We don’t know yet what the contents of that letter were, but at this point we are led to believe that it could’ve been from Gatsby, that he broke her heart, and that is why she went through with marrying Tom.  I think Daisy wanted it to work with Tom, but it just doesn’t.  Tom cheats on her and Daisy is in such a pit of denial she can’t seem to find her way out of it.

Re-reading this book has been so enlightening for me.  I first read it as a junior in high school and I loved it.  Now, 14 years later, I am, of course, coming from an entirely different place.  It’s amazing how much a book changes depending on when in your life you read it.  I am still enjoying it, but I notice a lot of subtleties that I never picked up on before.  I am noticing I like a character more or less than I did in high school.  I am noticing I have a greater understanding and empathy for characters than I did in high school because I understand their circumstances better.  Before, I had never experienced love or moving to a new place and the strangest person I had ever met in my small city were gang members or uber-religious Southern Baptists.  Nick and Daisy and Gatsby were all far more mysterious and strange to me at 17 than they are now.  It’s very interesting and I am enjoying the comparison.


  1. I totally agree! I reread the book, too, and it's really interesting how time and experience can change your perception of things. I think I'm not as glamorized by Gatsby as I was when I was a teenager, but at the same time I appreciate and pity him more, if that makes sense.

    1. It totally makes sense and I would agree with that as well. Gatsby seemed larger than life to my 17-year-old self.

  2. Oh my goodness, I absolutely agree about having a different understanding of the story now. I'm finding the same thing. It's been something like 15 years since I last read this book, so there is so much that I don't remember, so it has also been through the slow unfolding of the story that I pick back up on small details.

    Great responses. Thanks! :)


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