The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby discussion


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The role of cars & women drivers in this book.

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Stephen I just wanted to mention two things that never seem to be discussed in relation to this book.

Automobiles were still pretty exotic when this book was published. And the idea of women driving them was even rarer.

In many ways the car made this an exciting book in its initial debut but I'm surprised more women don't rail against the early beginnings of the "lady driver" stereotype that it fosters.


message 2: by Feliks (last edited Feb 23, 2014 07:04AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks Because there's nothing wrong with generalizations, per se; and railing about them (back in the day) wouldn't necessarily have any effect on them (not the way it might in today's hotwired society). Your observation is a good one: cars in TGG should be talked about more. I'd agree that lower-income women would be rare to see behind the wheel; but accounts of rich women driving wouldn't surprise me (for example, if we perused newspapers from that day).


Holly Feliks has a point, the only women in the book who drove cars were Jordan and Daisy, hardly a broad example of the female population. Both of these women were shallow, irresponsible, self-absorbed and careless with the arrogance of people who have enough money to cover up their indiscretions. Perhaps FSF was just trying to say that an automobile could be a dangerous weapon in the hands of a certain type of person, not really gender specific.


Geoffrey Holly
How was Jordan covering "up their indiscretions"? Of the two, I would say that Jordan was nowhere near as shallow as Daisy.


Summer Leppanen I would agree that of the two Jordan was less shallow, but I think she was still pretty self absorbed. I've discussed this with my book group a lot, and the role of the women in this book is not very deep. Jordan's purpose is practically non-existant. She serves as a plot device--she connects Nick to Gatsby, raises his attention to the situation with Tom, and then functions as a date to Nick, basically. Whereas Daisy is essential; without her Gatsby has no motivations--although he was reaching for prosperity before her, so... But I digress somewhat. I don't think their roles as drivers are that odd at all. Historically, (according to my history teacher, anyway), the twenties were all about "Cars, Women, and Booze." Especially when you add their class and states of mind.


Holly Geoffrey wrote: "Holly
How was Jordan covering "up their indiscretions"? Of the two, I would say that Jordan was nowhere near as shallow as Daisy."


I'm no expert in golf, but I do believe that "moving a ball from a bad lie" must have been an indiscretion because the novel alluded to a "hushing up" of the incident.


message 7: by Geoffrey (last edited Jun 10, 2013 11:04AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Geoffrey Okay, so a ball(in sports) is equally indiscrete to a ball(in bed)? Can you bawderlize further?


Monty J Heying Holly wrote: "...moving a ball from a bad lie" must have been an indiscretion because the novel alluded to a "hushing up" of the incident."

Improving your lie in a golf tournament is a serious offense. And yes, it is implied that she had the matter hushed up: "...a caddy retracted his statement and the only other witness admitted that he might have been mistaken."

For this and her cavalier attitude toward driving safety, Nick judges Jordan as "incurably dishonest. She wasn't able to endure being at a disadvantage and, given this unwillingness, I suppose she had begun dealing in subterfuges when she was a very young in order to keep that cool, insolent smile turned to the world... Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply..."


Geoffrey My impression that for a guy who looked the other way upon discovering the fencing of stolen bonds, his moral fiber is highly suspect.

His judgment of Jordan is after the fact. She hurt him with her frank appraisal of their relationship when he broke up with her and now he thinks less of her. Considering that the other characters had considerably more dishonesty written in their psyches, I find Nick a ridiculous character.

Nick is a jerk in my book, big time, and deserves to be a junior partner in that list.


message 10: by Monty J (last edited Jun 11, 2013 11:20AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monty J Heying Geoffrey wrote: "My impression that for a guy who looked the other way upon discovering the fencing of stolen bonds, his moral fiber is highly suspect.

His judgment of Jordan is after the fact. She hurt him with ..."


Geoffrey, you've got to stop reading my thoughts.

You've pointed up another complaint I have about Fitzgerald's choice of first-person for narrating this book.

Nick is at times the omniscient and impartial narrator and other times a rather passive member of the cast. As a character he is unheroic and sometimes behaves oddly, as in the confusing scenes with "feminine" McKee in the parlor, the elevator and McKee's bedroom.

I can barely overlook Nick's failure to act on the bond scam because in his dual role as narrator Nick is less effective if he is the one making things happen plot-wise. It diverts attention from the main players.

Having Gatsby and Daisy meet at his place is an example. It was a clumsy scene that could have easily been narrated in third person. Same with those clumsy flashbacks providing back story on Daisy and Gatsby.

First-person narration is a quagmire that only works well in certain situations. Salinger pulled it off well in The Catcher in the Rye, but I've yet to see anything else that matches it except maybe The Old Man and the Sea.

That said, Nick should have at least explained why he didn't report the bond scam or shown that he was struggling with a moral dilemma over it. By not doing so, he's endorsing it, an accessory after-the-fact.


Geoffrey Nick is also somewhat of a coward. Remember he breaks up with the secretary at work because her brother intimidates him with his dirty looks.So "rather passive"? Yes, very much so, much to the loss of respect the reader has for his person.


Feliks Based on the last nine comments then: Nick seems like a very realistic character to me. Just as in real life, he is a conflicting mixture of traits; rather than 'simple' and 'consistent'.

I also don't believe Jordan--while having no apparent 'purpose' in the story...is necessarily 'useless'. A story with too many active characters can be wearying. A minor character possessing no urgent crisis is often a relief, a counterpoint.


Rebecca I never heard anything about women drivers being less common than male drivers to begin with. But I looked it up and it seems that for a time that was the case, but it doesn't seem to have lasted very long.

http://www.hagerty.com/articles-video...

And these people were very rich, I can't imagine any of them not having their own cars and being able to drive. I mean isn't that the first thing you'd do if you were rich?


message 15: by Feliks (last edited Feb 23, 2014 09:51AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks Well just due to the economics of 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, it seems intuitive that men were car-owners for at least that long. Men had the money to buy the things. And for sure, women-driver jokes were a chestnut of American culture for decades. You can see them year after year in men's magazines like 'True', 'Argosy', 'Adventure', 'Real', 'Saga', 'Stag', 'Swank', 'For Men Only'..

Wealth=car ownership? I kinda disagree with that as well. Personal automobiles for every member of the household was never the norm (back then) no matter what class of society you represented. Remember that only in the 1950s, was the interstate highway system established. The tradition for the wealthy was rather, family chauffeurs and limousines. Driving is work; requires responsibilities; duties; requires mixing in with low-income riff-raff on the 'common' street.


Summer Leppanen Feliks wrote: "Well just due to the economics of 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, it seems intuitive that men were car-owners for at least that long. Men had the money to buy the things. And for sure, women-driver jokes we..."

Well, that's simplifying things a bit. Sure, cars were very common following streamlining of Ford's Model-T, but I would argue that the make, model, even colour of the car is important; Ford's cars were all black because that was the cheapest paint. Gatsby's car is yellow, and very well kept. And even if they're common, they're still expensive (though lumping the '30s in is a little unfair, because of the depression, but even then cars were a livelihood, a hope, a way of getting somewhere "better" for many, but I digress). Driving also puts you in control, which is significant in Gatsby, because Daisy is fairly out of control at the end.
Also, driving it's just work, and it never has been; it's also recreation. And in the roaring '20s world, responsibilities related to driving were less; cars were still relatively new, and there was more of a reckless attitude.


message 17: by Feliks (last edited Feb 23, 2014 12:09PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks Hmmm. But I don't see how I strayed into an over-simplification. Were you replying to my remarks or someone else's? Yes, expensive cars were customized with color and style; but how does that relate to the number of women car owners vs male car owners?

Until the interstate highways were built most of the American population lived in cities. That just wasn't a 'car culture'. In the rural areas, yes--farmers began to buy Model T cars and more especially, Ford trucks to help them manage their work.

But long car trips were not common; people rode trains across country. Interstate roads were mud; or else tolls--and early cars had to be cranked. There was recklessness, but also responsibilities: licenses, fines, lessons, registration, traffic rules.

It really wasn't a widespread form of personal recreation until the highways arrived and suburban tract sprawl developed..long road-trips to Yellowstone in the family car..money in people's pockets..women for the first time, possessing disposable income thanks to their employment in factories in the home front during the war.

In the 50's, America finally became mobile (=restless, unsatisfied, drifting from place-to-place; families breaking up)...


message 18: by Geoffrey (last edited Feb 23, 2014 02:01PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Geoffrey Feliks
You may not like the Parker character, I do, so for that reason alone I prefer her presence in the novel. But that point is moot as the question is whether she is relevant.

I also don't believe Jordan--while having no apparent 'purpose' in the story...is necessarily 'useless'. A story with too many active characters can be wearying. A minor character possessing no urgent crisis is often a relief, a counterpoint. Feliks quote from message message 13

She serves SF`s ploy to get Daisy and Jay back together. She also serves as further development of Nick`s character of impermanence-he is incapable of making any sort of commitment with the exception of writing the novel.He comes to the East to make his fortune in the bond market as he is ambitious and a social climber, stays for less than a year, has two affairs, neither of which mean particularly much to him except after the second breakup he realizes he`s half in love with the woman....

And she also serves as a counterpoint to the weak Daisy. The Parker woman is a strong, take charge person who cuts to the quick. She is overtly instrumental in bringing the two old lovers back and she is quick with the riposte when talking to Nick about their breakup.

I wish that the Parker woman had played a larger role in GG. She was the most attractive character with the exception of Gatsby`s father.
And yes, cars were a luxury afforable only to the middle class. People of the lowest classes today are able to own cars, just not recent models. Car ownership today is much more ubiquitious than in the 20`s. There`s almost no comparison.


Raymonds009 If you want to find out more about women in the earlier days of racing look up Denise McCluggage. I always wished that she had written about her experiences.


Benja I can think of a couple of offensive yet hilarious jokes on the subject of women drivers in The Great Gatsby, but that's about it.


message 21: by Stosch (new)

Stosch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK-SR9... END OF DISCUSSION , we can wrap this thread up and move on to something else


message 22: by Feliks (last edited Feb 23, 2014 04:36PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks Geoffrey wrote: "Feliks
You may not like the Parker character, I do, so for that reason alone I prefer her presence in the novel. But that point is moot as the question is whether she is relevant. ..."


Oh I certainly like her as well. In fact I was just defending her! You are preachin' to the choir. And I also enjoyed Lois Chiles' terrible performance in the movie too, (although many others do not).

What a great page of Gatsby comments we have going on here.


message 23: by Feliks (last edited Feb 23, 2014 05:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks p.s. 'Gatsby driving' is the key motif of the Alan Ladd movie version. One can only hope the William Powell version turns up someday.

Interesting: Edmund Wilson edited the second edition, didn't know that..


message 24: by Feliks (last edited Feb 24, 2014 08:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks p.s. by the way, what were the make/model of the Gatsby cars? Anyone have that info handy? Should be mentioned at least once in this thread.

And btw, doesn't everyone think Leonardo Duh-Caprio really looks..well..rather odd? In the face? Bizarre- appearing. Beady-eyed. Like some kind of swine + human hybrid. What is up with his totally grotesque, porcine, facial features?


Geoffrey Don´t know. Still waiting to see the movie. Missed it when it came around the moviehouses.

I am truly amazed as to how many responses these message threads have generated concerning a novel I don´t consider the best of 20th American Literature. But by the heat it has generated I am beginning to see that perhaps it is. Any novel this controversial has to be outstanding. So let us give the devil his due....begrudgingly....not totally in that corner but fast approaching.


Feliks Ha! Geoff, you're a character


Geoffrey So say my students as well.


message 28: by Lobstergirl (new) - added it

Lobstergirl Interesting thread. Someone mentioned chauffeurs above and it's a good point; in the early days of cars, many people needed a chauffeur because they simply weren't qualified to drive. Not just in terms of steering and navigating, but it was very commonplace to go out on a drive and get one or more flat tires (because there were few paved roads) and have to fix them. The upper classes already had drivers for their horsey conveyances, and these drivers simply learned how to drive cars and stayed in the family's employ. I just read a novel set in the early 20th century (From the Terrace) and there was a lot of detail in it about cars and drivers. I don't recall a woman driving in From the Terrace, it was always either a male chauffeur or a male car owner. There's a fatal car accident early in the novel that kills two young people; the car was a Stutz. When the protagonist's father buys him his first car, which is somewhere around the time of WWI, he avoids Stutz because it causes bad memories for everyone and buys him a Marmon. I had never heard of this car brand but when I looked it up it turns out the company still exists, in the form of The Marmon Group, which until recently was owned by the Pritzker family but now it's mostly or entirely owned by Warren Buffet's company Berkshire Hathaway.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmon_G...


message 29: by Lobstergirl (new) - added it

Lobstergirl Feliks wrote: "And btw, doesn't everyone think Leonardo Duh-Caprio really looks..well..rather odd? In the face? Bizarre- appearing. Beady-eyed. Like some kind of swine + human hybrid. What is up with his totally grotesque, porcine, facial features? "

He's prepping for a role in Animal Farm.


message 30: by Stosch (last edited Feb 26, 2014 07:30PM) (new)

Stosch dicaprio is in fact the spawn of nicholson and ginger-pig weasel of mexico, cryptozoologists would liken that to the chupacabra , but of mexico it feeds on litter and strawberries, combined with bitterness of never winning an oscar..


message 31: by Stosch (new)

Stosch ill show myself out, thanks


Geoffrey The man is definitely at the peak of his creative powers. His acting in the WOLF OF WALL STREET was stupendous. Either he´s gotten better or Hollywood has finally decided he can handle meatier roles. When did his meteoric rise begin....with the GANGS OF NEW YORK?


message 33: by Stosch (new)

Stosch havent seen that movie, but i thought he did a really good job in basketball diaries.


message 34: by Feliks (last edited Feb 27, 2014 02:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks I've seen better creative power displayed on an Etch-a-Sketch


message 35: by Stosch (new)

Stosch sick burn


Geoffrey Just your speed, Feliks. Taking lessons from Romney?


Feliks Whats a Romney?


message 38: by Stosch (new)

Stosch a romney is when you get para in Rome, fall and crack your knee


Geoffrey Such a short memory. Romney, the King of the Etch-a-Sketch game.


Rebecca I came across this interesting wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flapper

I'd never heard of "flappers" before


message 41: by Feliks (last edited Mar 06, 2014 07:46AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks Truly? That's a bit startling to me.. but I guess as period-films become rarer and rarer, popular awareness will fade.


Kathy I thought the Robert Redford/Mia Farrow Gatsby film was better than the modern day LDC weird rap film that came out last year. Not true to the period at all.


Geoffrey Flippers are flappers too. Sorry, had to add that bit of silliness.


Geoffrey Flippers are flappers too. Sorry, had to add that bit of silliness.


Feliks ECHO! Echo! echo...!


message 46: by Feliks (last edited Mar 06, 2014 12:39PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks Rap music..good gawd..used to be in this country, you could tell s**t from shinola and you could call it s**t out loud..not today..ya can't fight multi-million dollar corporate advertising budgets or flouncing, cuckoo movie directors who think we're keeping down some oppressed bastion of creative talents


Geoffrey James
Her name is Kate Winslett. And she really deserves more than just "A Girl" considering DiCaprio at least gets named "Leo". She is every much an excellent thespian as her leading man.


Kathy The movie had blacks and whites dancing in a car going over the Brooklyn Bridge dancing to rap music. Fantasy in the 1920's ...true to the book? Nah....Hollywood gone nuts. I still prefer the 1975 version of Great Gatsby.....way more true to the book.


Geoffrey James
Or for that matter what was Heather Graham doing in the movie with Johnny Depp FROM HELL?


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