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Group Reads Archive > The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Moderator's Choice Jan & Feb 2017)

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message 1: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Please join us as we discuss...

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

To get us started...

* At roughly what age did you first read (or hear about) this book and what do you remember most about that first encounter?


message 2: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
I think I first heard about this book when I was in college. I only got around to reading it a couple of years ago, but I instantly fell in love!

The thing that stays with me the most is, oddly, the advertisement for the eye doctor or whatever that billboard was. It's so creepy, but it works as the story is being told by someone who is mostly watching what is happening.


message 3: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments I first read it in high school. I generally pick it up every 5-7 years.

From the first read, the green light made the most impression on me. Not sure where my copy is. But maybe I can get it on OverDrive.


message 4: by Connie (last edited Jan 23, 2017 09:11PM) (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments I've read the book twice, the first time about 10 years ago. I reread it when the 2013 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio was released. I remember the speeding cars, and just knowing the story was set up for a crash. Like Jan, the green light was also important to me. Gatsby could see the light, but it was across the water and couldn't be reached just like Daisy was unobtainable.

I've also seen the Robert Redford movie from the 1970s which was closer to what I imagined from reading the book. The parties seemed too glitzy in the 2013 movie. Both movies had good actors.


message 5: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Ah yes, the green light...the unobtainable "minute and far away". That was the theme that most struck me about this novel. The links with the always out of reach "American Dream".

Culturally that's an important concept in the US isn't it? ...the idea that everyone can achieve that dream. What this book does brilliantly is add the realism that lots of the things we aspire to are illusions. Even the people who we think have achieved it are illusions. It cuts to the core of the nature of happiness and whether this really is so bound up in the having of 'things' as we are led to believe. Is the American dream about happiness OR is it about acquiring Wealth? and are the two, at the end of the day, mutually exclusive?

Honestly, its this social and political analysis that makes me want to return to this short and brilliant novel every few years. There is a political awareness and a window into human nature here that's quite irresistible. The 'eyes' that Jennifer mentioned are peering through that window.

So...What does the American Dream mean to you?


message 6: by Julie (new)

Julie Gatsby is a book I seem to have known about forever but only got around to reading it about 3 years ago. For my second reading I paired it with Sarah Churchwells book, Careless People: Murder,Mayhem and the Invention of the Great Gatsby which was a very insightful read.
For me it's the small random things that stick in my mind- the billowing white curtains like sails in Tom's house, the crates of oranges and lemons delivered to Gatsby every weekend and the impulse purchase of the poor dog for Tom's lover Myrtle!


message 7: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments I was supposed to read it in high school (so about 16 years ago now) and tried and failed. Since then I've read it a few times, though I don't remember when the first was. I've seen both movies at various periods and neither felt quite right to me. The cover sticks with me the most. Then from the text, the billboard, the green light, the shirts.

I think the whole American Dream thing is important here in the US. The whole idea that anyone can be whatever they want to be. Of course, not everyone can, and even those who can might have gotten there in less than perfect ways (like Gatsby here or, dare I say, Trump with the Presidency now). I don't think happiness and wealth are automatically mutually exclusive, but I think that in trying to attain one and thinking it's caught up in the other can be a problem. As for what the American Dream means to me, gosh, I don't really know. I do think there's a bit of the "be whatever you want to be" but I think we also have to all understand certain limitations that might get in our way. Maybe, never stop striving, but think about what you're trying to accomplish and how you're going about it. I could get political again, but I already made my one comment so I won't say anything further, but I do think how you go about achieving that dream is really important.


message 8: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
Hmm, I don't know if I've ever thought about what the American Dream is... I guess I would say it's a combination of wealth and happiness, and success, however a person chooses to measure those. I think it means attaining more with your life than your parents did, but again, not necessarily in a material sense. I think when I hear about it in the media, it usually means having a good job, a happy family, good kids, sending them to a good school, that sort of thing. But personally, it's more about overcoming obstacles. There's no "dream" to it if you were born with a silver spoon and everything comes easy.


message 9: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 239 comments I came to reading books later in life. I have been aware of the film eek but less aware of the book but know little about it until now.
A quick look at the review's, I think this may appeal to me. I'll try get hold of a copy see how it goes.


message 10: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Eep! Apparently the last time I read this was 2011 - I could've sworn it was much more recently, wow. Maybe I'll have to reread this this year. :)


message 11: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments For the American Dream the succeeding generation should do better than the generation before. This could be monetarily, have more houses, a better education, a better position, etc.

The distinction is not that everyone can achieve it but that anyone should be able to achieve it. Anyone, given the right breaks, should be able to improve their lot in life. Like it says in the Declaration of Independence, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. "


message 12: by Connie (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments To me, the American Dream involves happiness and living comfortably. Happiness means different things to different people.

Back in the 1920s there was more of a distinction between Old Money and New Money. Even though Gatsby became very rich, he wasn't from Old Money so he would never be suitable for someone like Daisy. Today, there is less distinction between Old Money and New Money, and we admire the wealthy tech wizards in Silicon Valley like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.


message 13: by Donald (new)

Donald Whiteway | 24 comments This is one of the most discussed books anywhere. There are so many themes you can latch onto. Jimmy Gatz in pursuit of Daisy Fay echoes Fitzgerald's of both Zelda Sayre and Ginevra King. I am fascinated by the secondary love story, that between Nick Carraway (my favorite character in this work) and Jordan Baker. Jordan at first comes off as cool aloof, and who cheats at golf, her profession. By the time the story ends, we learn that her heart had been kind of broken unwittingly by Nick who escapes East and West Egg and New York.

We learn at the outset that Nick will remain true to Gatsby. That is made clear in his last words to his neighbor, "They’re a rotten crowd...You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.” It is Nick in fact who is Gatsby's last and at the end only friend. His funeral goes mostly un-attended. It is Nick who witnesses the grief and at the same time fractured pride of Jimmy Gatz' father who appears at the end carrying trinkets of a young man who would turn himself into The Great Gatsby. Nick who witnesses the pull back of people like Meyer Wolfsheim. Nick also reacts with justifiable anger when he, for probably the last time, meets the dangerously hypocritical Buchanans.

It has been a long time since I have read this, but for me it is never far from my mind. The critic Maureen Corrigan has written a wonderful book about Gatsby that is well worth picking up: "So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures" It discusses not only the book, but how it was written, received and sort of resurrected after becoming forgotten.....

Great topic for this discussion. Looking forward to other posts! Thank you!!!


message 14: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments Donald wrote: "This is one of the most discussed books anywhere. There are so many themes you can latch onto. Jimmy Gatz in pursuit of Daisy Fay echoes Fitzgerald's of both Zelda Sayre and Ginevra King. I am fasc..."

I loved the Corrigan book.


message 15: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments I really enjoyed the Corrigan book, as well. And the Churchwell.


message 16: by Val (last edited Jan 26, 2017 07:13AM) (new)

Val I first read it as a teenager and have vague memories of seeing the film as well. At the time I thought it more sad and romantic than cynical.

I don't think I have ever thought about 'the American dream' as a concept independent of a book, which would show the author's idea of it, not mine. The closest equivalent I can think of might be the early years of the industrial revolution, which affected people across all social classes: large numbers of agricultural workers moved into cities in search of a better life for themselves and their families (or emigrated in the case of the Irish ones), people with some money invested it in new projects, people with ideas were eager to try them out and there was a general feeling of optimism. Not everyone had what we would regard as success, either in terms of wealth, living conditions or happiness, but a lot of people thought it possible then.
(That is also when UK 'new money' dates from.)


message 17: by Donald (new)

Donald Whiteway | 24 comments Bronwyn wrote: "I really enjoyed the Corrigan book, as well. And the Churchwell." There was a surge the last two years in "book biographies". Not only Corrigan's Gatsby, but those on Middlemarch and Ulysses were (for me anyway) riveting! (sorry off topic...)


message 18: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) This book was assigned reading when I was in 9th grade. I was 14. I remember reading it just about straight through. I was deeply impressed and just felt some relief that now we were going to read some good books in school. Next came "A Tale of Two Cities" which was not at all as engaging. I've read it several times since then.

I've probably had a different focus each time I've read Gatsby. First, probably, the issue of the "American Dream". Then I've read it as a tale of the evils of capitalism. Of the brutality of the powerful. Of the mistreatment of women.

Right now I think of it as an indictment of the world of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, who create serial car-crashes (literally, in the book) and who are always going to side with each other no matter how heinous their crimes are.


message 19: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 239 comments Ordered the book.
American Dream? Of course a concept but has it changed over time. We have our own dreams but they seldom underpin a sovereign nations direction or dare we say subliminal mesages. Do US citizens feel guilty if they their dreams isn't that of the nation.
My dream.....that would be telling.


message 20: by David (last edited Jan 26, 2017 01:54PM) (new)

David Izzo | 31 comments Jay Gatz (by) was inspired by the real George Goetz who was then the editor of a highly regarded literary journal; however, his pen name was V. F. Calverton, which was meant to hide that he was Jewish, a very common practice of American Jews at that time where anti-semitism was very strong. The unspoken theme of Fitzgerald's was that no amount of wealth would gain him access to the inner circles of high society because he was Jewish.


message 21: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Difficult subject. Perhaps this article from the New Yorker might be interesting to our readers: www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/f...

So, was Fitzgerald an anti-Semite? Is there evidence in this novel to show that? What about racism and bigotry more generally? Was this a product of the time? Are there any parallels with the times we find ourselves in today? Are there difficulties today for readers who find anti-semitism abhorrent? Does this change the way you personally look at the novel?


message 22: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
I appreciate that religion is not something that everyone is keen to discuss but before I move on I did want to say that I looked up our old thread from 2013 when we read Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (see: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...)

I thought that we'd talked more there about religion than we actually did but the whole theme of Catholicism vs. WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestantism) /Church of England Protestantism does seem to play out a great deal in novels from our period.


message 23: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Motor racing first became popular during the Jazz Age and The Great Gatsby is a book with some fancy cars and a fair bit of speed...what did our readers make of that as a theme?


message 24: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Ally wrote: "Difficult subject. Perhaps this article from the New Yorker might be interesting to our readers: www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/f...

So, was Fitzgerald an anti-Semite? Is t..."


Keeping in mind that it's been a while since I've read this now... I don't know that Fitzgerald was necessarily an anti-Semite, rather that vague, general anti-Semitism was around at the time, even if you didn't actually hate Jewish people, so I do think any of it is a product of it's time. I seem to remember moreso the characterization of Meyer Wolfsheim; I could see that being a bit more anti-Semitic, but I think it's more just the stereotyping that Fitzgerald would have been familiar with/playing off. Of course anything on that front is difficult to read with modern sensibilities in mind, but I think that's the challenge of reading older books - you have to keep in mind the era when it was written even if you don't agree with how it was written. Using a different example, I don't think anyone would really call Mark Twain racist, but he absolutely uses racist language in his work that would've just been a product of his time. While there were progressive people in any era, they can still only talk about things in the ways they are familiar, and conceive of things that are within reason. Did any of that make sense, lol? :)


message 25: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
It does make sense Bronwyn and I agree with you.

As I see it, we can't get away from the fact that lots of terrible things happened during the time period that we're interested in. We do need to take time to compare and contrast the differing behaviours, attitudes and experiences then and now...indeed that's part of what I find so interesting about reading books from this period...and, dare I say it, there are some important lessons from that history and portrayal that we may need to recognise today. Lest we forget.


message 26: by Donald (new)

Donald Whiteway | 24 comments Great points Ally & Bronwyn. The context of the time has much to do with content. However there is much to learn from each viewpoint of opposing sides in past events.....


message 27: by Bronwyn (last edited Jan 27, 2017 11:13AM) (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Absolutely, Ally. There's so much going on right now that we have to be aware of in its current state and in anyways that it's similar to/drawing upon things in the past. In addition to all the things I already wanted to read coming up, I've been making a list of things I feel I *ought* to read, given everything that's going on.


It's really interesting to think about how things written now will be viewed in the future. We're always striving to be better (or at least I hope we are) and yet we can still only work within the framework we live in/are familiar with, and so I'm sure people in the future will find things in, say, The Girl on the Train, to pick a popular contemporary book, that they can analyse and pick apart and possibly even comment upon for perceived prejudices. (I haven't actually read that book, so sub in whatever popular book might work better for the analogy. ;) )


message 28: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments Anti-Semite or not? He probably just didn't know any Jews. If he did know any, they were probably his tailor or in some other service capacity. He was from Minnesota, went to Princeton - these were at times when they probably weren't a lot of Jews in his proximity. So it is more from ignorance than intent.

I started listening to Gatsby yesterday and today we met Wolfsheim. I don't recall from the book whether it indicated that he had a heavy Jewish accent, but the reader definitely uses one.


message 29: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 239 comments My book has arrived. I'll read it now with all your comments in mind.
The anti-Semitic issues are quite a difficult issue to discuss. Before I read the book I wonder if rather than being anti Jewish it was more a case of 'he isn't one of us', so for instance if they were from a particular type of background then all others would be excluded and being Jewish isn't specifically the reason for exclusion. Anyway I shall read the book and see what conclusions I can draw.
Anyway, Ally pointed out motor racing yay and jazz - my parents listened to jazz and I think met at a jazz club so I'll have the sounds in my head. I'm a delta blues person myself.
As for changing names to sounds less Jewish, one side of my family choose names to sound less Irish Catholic such was the anti Catholic feeling in the UK.


message 30: by David (new)

David Izzo | 31 comments Let me be clear that I do not in any way suggest that Fitzgerald was ant-semitic but that his characters were. I created a character in a historical novel who was Jewish and attending Oxford on a scholarship in 1929. He was hated two-fold: for being Jewish and working class. He was a vehicle for me to bridge the Aldous Huxley circle and the Auden circle and both circles defend him and his right to exist. In order to portray the reality of this era I subjected him to being ill-used by the "hearties" (posh students). This is what Fitzgerald did but sotto voce, not blatantly. In 2000 when I wrote the novel I had the opportunity to be as blatant as I wanted. My Jewish character was based on my very real Jewish best friend Martin Blank in his honor because the character did not back down nor did Martin.


message 31: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) I am certain that the Buchanans are anti-semitic.

As for Jay Gatz, it seems more likely to me that he might have been of some sort of Nordic background, hailing from North Dakota, if I recall correctly.

Ally brings up the theme of motor-racing. I think of the book as being filled with car accidents: George Wilson, Myrtle's husband, runs a car repair shop.
When Tom and Daisy are on their honeymoon in Santa Barbara, he is dating" a maid whose arm is broken in a car-crash (Tom is driving)
At Gatsby's party a guy named "Owl Eyes" drives himself into a ditch.
In New York a hearse passes by (Chapter 4)
Tom calls Gatsby's car a "circus wagon"
Myrtle is killed in a car crash.

The Buchanans specialize in car crashes and wait for other people to clean up their messes.


message 32: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments Natalie wrote: "I am certain that the Buchanans are anti-semitic.

As for Jay Gatz, it seems more likely to me that he might have been of some sort of Nordic background, hailing from North Dakota, if I recall corr..."


That's what the careless do.


message 33: by Ally (last edited Jan 29, 2017 10:58AM) (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
‘You’re a rotten driver,’ I protested. ‘Either you ought to be more careful or you oughtn’t to drive at all.’
‘I am careful.’
‘No, you’re not.’
‘Well, other people are,’ she said lightly.
‘What’s that got to do with it?’
‘They’ll keep out of my way,’ she insisted. ‘It takes two to make an accident.’ ‘Suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself.’
‘I hope I never will,’ she answered. ‘I hate careless people. That’s why I like you.’

...a conversation between Nick and Jordan after she clips the button of a workman that she drives past.

That carelessness that Jan points out does seem to demonstrate a sense of 'entitlement'. Do people in Jordan's class see those in lower classes as expendable, not at all important? Is that one of the effects of 'big money'? The lightness of Jordan's manner in that conversation is, when considered against the consequences of other poor driving and accidents, rather chilling.

Motor cars are a symbol of wealth and the speed potentially a symbol of those left behind in the dust. The crashes too seem to demonstrate the blatant lack of any understanding of those who get hurt in the wake of such entitlement. Especially since the 'establishment', power and money seem to allow the culprits to 'get away with it'. The dark underbelly of Capitalism. For some to win, lots of others have to lose...and who really cares?


message 34: by Michael (last edited Jan 30, 2017 08:47AM) (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 239 comments Certainly cars were a symbol of wealth then. Nowadays they are almost a necessity, my mother who is now 84 gave up driving only months ago and finds it quite awkward to those things she once did quite easily as she has to use public transport.
As for the care free attitude, based on the daily selfish driving I see the class divide of entitlement and the 'me first' attitude has been subject to the trickle down effect. Strange how traits we once associated with the privilege classes are now adopted by the masses.


message 35: by Roisin (new)

Roisin | 729 comments Interesting discussion. I last read the book some years ago and have read it at least twice. It has some interesting themes and imagery. The 'American Dream' is normally focused on, but it is clearly not the main theme. The thing that features throughout the book is race, identity and 'passing'.

The middle class blacks with the white driver, the book that is mentioned on race, aspersions on Gatsby's identity, Tom's racist comments, his association with Jewish characters, like Wolfsheim, the book 'The Rise of The Colored Empires'. Race and identity isn't that often discussed, so I am glad that it has come up here. Someone mentioned Jewish which was how I've always thought Jay Gatsby was. The description of him is not 'Nordic'. More Jewish or mixed-race in looks. I thought he was based on a Jewish racketeer? Though Fitzgerald specialists/fans will know more than I do on that.

Many Jews did change/anglicise their names as someone mentioned to be accepted into society.

I'm not sure that Fitzgerald was racist but his characters are. Most of the characters are just horrible.


message 36: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
For me 'Identity' is totally wrapped up with the 'American Dream' in this novel and I find it hard to separate those two themes.

I agree with you that none of the characters are particularly likeable.

Even Nick...is that controversial? Is he voyeuristic? or just an outsider? is this the condition of the whole human race in one situation or another - after all we can't 'know' things from other perspectives very easily as we apply our own filters based on our own experiences and perhaps prejudices.

So...voyeurism. What do you think?


message 37: by Connie (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments Nick seems to be both an outsider and voyeuristic. He can't identify with Tom and Daisy Buchanan, or Jordan, but is fascinated with them at first. He's young and doesn't come from their social class. By the end of the book, he realizes that they don't have the same values that he has. He knows that Gatsby has been treated terribly, and is the only friend at his funeral. He leaves New York to go back to a simpler life with better values. It's been a learning experience for a young man.


message 38: by Val (new)

Val If a novelist decides to have a first person narrator / commentator who is present for all of the action but not a driver of it, he is going to come across as voyeuristic because of the construction of the novel.
Nick is not as much of an outsider as Gatsby, he is not at the same exclusive wealth level but is Daisy's cousin, so socially acceptable. Gatsby has the wealth, but from suspect sources, he certainly doesn't have the social standing.


message 39: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 239 comments I've read the first chapter. The references to Nordic are quite striking, I recall the Aryan race was Nordic so we are already being told to draw the conclusion about Tom Buchanan.
I'm not getting the voyeurism vibe. Are we considering that all observers are voyeurists, including lurkers in forums I'm not seeing that. If Nick is a 'wanabee' then too that wouldn't make him a voyeurist would it?Are all narration styles potentially open to the view that they have voyeurist traits.
Anyway away from home sat in a hotel room, time for another chapter before bed.


message 40: by Roisin (new)

Roisin | 729 comments Well, the description of Tom Buchanan is very different from the description of Gatsby. Tom has the description of someone Nordic, not Gatsby. Or did you mean something different?


message 41: by Roisin (new)

Roisin | 729 comments Some voyeurs are wannabes, surely?? : )). We sometimes want to be those that we admire.

I think Nick is a possible wannabe in awe of these people, but changes his attitude and his definitely in Gatbsy's camp.


message 42: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 239 comments Tom refers to himself and guests in Chapter 1 as Nordic and that is what I've picked up on. So far I haven't reached a description of Gatsby or indeed how Tom views him.
His view of civilization is about material aspects and doesn't mention being civilised, I find you can have one without the other.


message 43: by Roisin (new)

Roisin | 729 comments Ahh! Ta! Yes, he does not come across as a civilised being. : )


message 44: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 239 comments I wonder if Nick is seeking a place where he feels he belongs rather than a place he thinks he should belongs, so maybe he isn't so much of a wannabe and instead seeks 'his place' and becomes the voyeur of what around him to understand this.
We often admire people but not who they are but rather their drive, ambition etc so we achieve the best of who we are.


message 45: by Roisin (new)

Roisin | 729 comments Yes, maybe...I think he is dazzled and amazed by the wealth of his neighbour Gatsby. He has access to people and a world that he is not familiar with. He also states that 'Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.'

His background means that he has high connections, but is middle-class.


message 46: by Roisin (new)

Roisin | 729 comments '...identity...wrapped up with the American Dream'

I suppose in a way, because all the people that went there, apart from the natives were immigrants, exiles fleeing persecution, some fought, stole, took land and then other people went there to make a better life due to economic problems in there own countries, slaves were brought there, people fleeing war, poverty, destitution, etc.

The idea that one can do better than from were they came from is wrapped up by that dream.


message 47: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 239 comments We all have our own dreams of health, wealth and happiness with the latter being the ultimate goal.
I often feel the Amercian Dream requires one to go from poverty to wealth in order to have achieved the Dream.
I've never been envious of wealth because it doesn't bring happiness and I feel that the way wealth is acquired may sometimes ignores the human cost along the way. Does wealth of one mean poverty for another or many? Certainly Nick has issues with the wealthy or is it just those he knows.
I've watched on TV the US series Extreme Makeover Home Edition is this the American reality when the dream fails?


message 48: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
On reflection based on the last few posts I might change my mind about poor Nick.

On occasion I do, I'm afraid to say, think myself morally superior to some and morally inferior to others. Its almost like I'm stack ranking myself against my peers and its often unconsciously done. Perhaps I look at some and feel disgust and disdain. Perhaps I feel ashamed and inadequate beside a paragon of virtue.

Isn't this how we set our moral compass? isn't that natural? - perhaps that is what Nick is doing.

Thanks Mike and Roisin for those good points well made!


message 49: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikeynick) | 239 comments I think it's perfectly natural to 'rank' ourselves against others. It is each criteria we use to do that that we may we may find interesting. You could believe yourself to be superior on one criteria and yet inferior on another. Deciding which of these criteria has a higher importance is a personal choice. So we are both superior and inferior at the same moment!
Is Tom''s stance based on prejudice or fear? Prejudice if he believes superiority due to birth right or fear if it is that what makes him believe he is superior is about to be under attack from, as he sees them, the lower classes.


message 50: by Roisin (new)

Roisin | 729 comments '...how we set our moral compass'

We can only go on what we know. The Jewish Bible contains stories, people that existed and many that we suspect did not and tales which fit within their experience and knowledge. They wrote about the bigger fish and the smaller fish, the Egyptians, the Romans, Babylonians, Nubians etc. They had no knowledge of Aboriginal peoples from Australia, because they never met them, or knew their morality, yet they existed long before those writings, so perhaps, yes. Read Herodotus and he wrote about a lot about people that we know existed, people that may have done and characters from mythology too, as if they existed. However, he leaves out a few continents that we now know exists.
Our experience and knowledge becomes our barometer. We identify quite often with things that are like ourselves I suspect. We live mainly in groups, not on hillsides on our own. : )

Tom sees his race as superior and anything that might challenge that is a threat. His threat is Gatsby. He has money, but to have social standing and respect is something else. To doubt his origins, ethnicity, is to doubt him, and his place in society.


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