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Why Do You Believe Gatsby?

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message 1: by Monty J (last edited Dec 05, 2015 12:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monty J Heying Gatsby says Daisy was driving and he stopped the car to switch seats with her after the accident. He's the only one who says so, and he is contradicted by sworn eyewitness testimony as well as reason. Who in their right mind would let a companion drive to settle her nerves?

Here, he lies about his family history and being educated at Oxford:
"I am the son of some wealthy people in the Middle West--all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford, because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition."
...[Nick]"What part of the Middle West?" I inquired casually.
"San Francisco."
"I see."
"My family all died and I came into a good deal of money."

By the end of the book, you know that Jay Gatsby is a criminal, a con artist who sells worthless bonds to unsuspecting victims--that he lied about his family wealth--that he even lied about his name--that he made Nick an accomplice in his adulterous affair with Daisy. Faced with solid evidence of low character, truth manipulation and countervailing eyewitness testimony, why do you believe him?

Nick does, but why do you?

You must have a reason.


message 2: by Marian (last edited Dec 05, 2015 06:35PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marian Personally, it hadn't before occurred to me he might have lied, but it's certainly plausible...lying was Gatsby's way of life. He might even lie out of habit or panic, regardless of whether he premeditated to implicate Daisy. Also given the mores of the time, I imagine it is statistically more likely that Gatsby, the male, was driving his own car.


Karen Marian wrote: "Also given the mores of the time, I imagine it is statistically more likely that Gatsby, the male, was driving his own car."

It was not that unusual in the roaring 20's for women to be driving cars.



Marian Karen wrote: "It was not that unusual in the roaring 20's for women to be driving cars."

True, I should have added "while not driving solo," since I think my claim relies on the fact she had a male companion. In the 1920s, there is a good chance she would have deferred driving to Gatsby. I don't remember if there was a mention of Daisy having her own car...probably Tom (as an archetype of a controlling husband) would have insisted on his driving when they went anywhere together.


Monty J Heying Marian wrote: "I don't remember if there was a mention of Daisy having her own car."

When she was courting Gatsby before he went to war, she had a white car that Jordan mentioned. But on her trip to see Nick and Gatsby, she was chauffeured.


message 6: by Sheila (last edited Dec 08, 2015 06:06AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila "Here, he lies about his family history and being educated at Oxford:

"I am the son of some wealthy people in the Middle West--all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford, because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition."

...[Nick]"What part of the Middle West?" I inquired casually.
"San Francisco."

"I see."

"My family all died and I came into a good deal of money."


Huh. I always interpreted this passage as Gatsby's tongue-in-cheek attempt to feel out Nick (his sense of humor, or his likelihood to challenge Gatsby's stories), not a real lie. I mean, isn't it a tad... obvious? I always gave Gatsby credit for being fairly intelligent, and this is a STUPID lie.


message 7: by Geoffrey (last edited Dec 08, 2015 05:18PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Geoffrey I never thought Gatsby particularly intelligent. If you harken to the diary that his father produces after his death, there is nothing particularly intelligent about what he wrote as a youth. Nor was he particularly intelligent in not getting spoils of war. Nor was there anything particularly intelligent in his very flawed delivery about cavorting around Europe collecting baubles. No, I always thought that JG was of particular mediocre intelligence who lucked out with his fortuitous occurrence in having gone to ¨Oggsford¨ and consequently making an impression on Wolfie.

And of course the fact that he thinks SF is in the MidWest is further proof to his lack of education/intelligence.


message 8: by Karen (last edited Dec 08, 2015 05:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karen Geoffrey wrote: "I never thought Gatsby particularly intelligent. If you harken to the diary that his father produces after his death, there is nothing particularly intelligent about what he wrote as a youth. Nor w..."

I think Sheila is right- hmm, I never thought I would say that Sheila, are you the same Sheila? Not to start anything, I do think you are right here.


Geoffrey Karen wrote: "Geoffrey wrote: "I never thought Gatsby particularly intelligent. If you harken to the diary that his father produces after his death, there is nothing particularly intelligent about what he wrote ..."

Monty J wrote: "Marian wrote: "I don't remember if there was a mention of Daisy having her own car."

When she was courting Gatsby before he went to war, she had a white car that Jordan mentioned. But on her trip ..."



Jay also places Biloxi which is in Mississippi in Kentucky or Tennessee if I recall. So he doesn't know his geography at all. But according to some critics I've read, neither did Fitzgerald, and I believe Buccoli himself raised the question as to whether the mistake was intentional on Scott's part.


Geoffrey Monty J wrote: "Gatsby says Daisy was driving and he stopped the car to switch seats with her after the accident. He's the only one who says so, and he is contradicted by sworn eyewitness testimony as well as reas..."

Jay is so enamored of Daisy that he may be fearful to contradict her on her insistence of driving the car. And as far as calming the nerves, a lot people will drive cars to do that exactly.
The issue becomes to what length does Jay's lying go. Would he place the blame on the woman he loves to appear bigger in Nick's eyes. And most of us readers would answer no, there are limits to which even a pathological liar would lie and I don't believe him to be pathological. Recall back to his first conversation to Nick about the gems he collected in Europe and he stammers, hems and haws throughout, signified by ___s. (I've forgotten what they are called, subscripts, no?Underscores?) in the text. Nick writes that he almost chortled in disbelief. What does this say about Jay's ability to lie well? He can't as he is not a pathological liar. He doesn't have his spiel down pat. A person doesn't necessarily have to be a pathological liar do lie expertly but one who does inexpertly can't be a pathological liar. You might disagree.
The testimony of the two witnesses are not conclusive. One claims a man at 150 feet away in a car driving 60 mph was driving. At that speed it would be difficult to ascertain gender. The other initially incorrectly identifies the color of the car. Woah here now. Are we sure he remembers which car hit Myrtle? It would be extremely difficult for one not to note the color of a car that killed a woman you knew.


Karen Geoffrey wrote;
"Jay also places Biloxi which is in Mississippi in Kentucky or Tennessee if I recall. So he doesn't know his geography at all. But according to some critics I've read, neither did Fitzgerald, and I believe Buccoli himself raised the question as to whether the mistake was intentional on Scott's part."

Fitzgerald had a real problem with geography, that was well known.


Geoffrey Hmmm. I am a bit curious as to whether Perkins caught the mistake and SF explained that he wanted to portray Jay as being likewise geography deficient.


message 13: by Monty J (last edited Jan 02, 2016 07:00PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monty J Heying Geoffrey wrote: "Jay is so enamored of Daisy that he may be fearful to contradict her on her insistence of driving the car. And as far as calming the nerves, a lot people will drive cars to do that exactly."

Say you're the owner of a Rolls Royce, an enormously expensive car, and you know the woman next to you, with whom you've been having an adulterous affair, is in a highly emotional state after the affair has been exposed. Her nerves are strained further by the fact that her relationship with you was terminated by her. You will likely never see each other again after tonight. You've been " snapped out, made accidental, isolated, like ghosts, even from our pity."

Seriously--assuming you've had nothing to drink, the bottle Tom brought having remained unopened--would you let her drive?

Not likely. Possible, yes. But highly improbable, especially given there has been no instance in the novel where Daisy had driven for the past five years. She's chauffeured, and therefore her driving would be rusty.



Geoffrey wrote: "One claims a man at 150 feet away in a car driving 60 mph was driving.."

The car was doing on 30-40 at the time of impact. It was another witness coming the opposite direction who said the car was doing 50-60. At 30-40, its easy to tell a man from a woman, even in silhouette in an open roadster.


Geoffrey wrote: "It would be extremely difficult for one not to note the color of a car that killed a woman you knew. "

We've gone over this before. An ivory-colored moving car with a green interior observed in the pastel tones of twilight could easily be mistaken as "light green" from a distance. You hear a shout and a bump and you look up in time to see the car accelerating away. Your attention is immediately drawn to the dying woman, not nailing down the precise color of the car.

Guess I'll have to do a granular analysis of the accident as well as the Plaza Hotel climax.


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