The above two have very little to do with one another. I just feel the need to explain the day I just had, which caused me minimal time at home. The sad thing? I finished Gatsby before today, but procrastinated.
Anyway. We are going to a wedding this weekend. Amelia needed new shoes. All of hers are dingy or falling apart or flip flops. Which, by the way, don’t look good with floofy dresses. I know that Dave can pull off flip flops with most outfits, but he doesn’t need to wear floofy dresses.
It took us four stores and three hours to find two pairs of shoes. Each store either did not have shoes in a size 10 for little girls, or they had really fugly shoes (both Amelia and I thought they were fugly, though I have yet to teach her that word) or none of the ones fit her quite right. Finally, after she tried on EVERY PAIR THAT REMOTELY WORKED in our paradigm at Target, I told her I wasn’t going anywhere else. I told her that she would just have to go to the wedding in her old, beat up shoes. Oddly, five minutes later she decided on the first pair that we tried on. She then fell in love with sparkly Hello Kitty boat/mary jane type shoes. Shannon, Dave’s wife, would have fully approved of the choice and my purchase. Amelia was willing to get them after sliding one half on her foot. A dad behind me in line said that he understood, that a Hello Kitty sparkly shoe could be filled with rocks and they’d still want to wear them. (I wonder if Shannon would).
Anyway, I guess shoe shopping did tie into The Great Gatsby. Or at least, the sparkle on Amelia’s new Hello Kitty shoes did.
The Great Gatsby is about the sparkle on the ultra rich. It’s also about how the sparkle, just like the sparkle on little girls’ shoes, wears off quickly for newcomers. Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story, starts out admiring the ultra-rich East Coasters. By the end, he’s thoroughly sick of them and ends up hating at least one of them (Tom Buchanan).
The Great Gatsby is about how we think we can know someone, merely because we run into them often while socializing. And how we actually don’t know them at all. Jay Gatsby is like, well, a Brad Pitt, or a George Clooney or even a Jack Nicholson of 1922. Instead of magazines and paparazzi making us think we know him, the hundreds of people that poured into his parties thought that. Gatsby was amazing at blending in. When Nick meets him, he knows he is to meet Gatsby. However, he finds out that the man he’s been chatting with for awhile at the party _is_ Gatsby.
Gatsby is a haunting person to me. His climbing and his success and actually everything he is, is based on a dream that’s five years old. He’s built this dream into a mountain, and filled in all the details, like where each tree is, where the chalet is built, how the sun looks as it sets. Unfortunately, as anyone that’s lived for longer than 20 years knows, when we build something up, the reality rarely lives up to it.
The ending of Gatsby is tragic.
Fitzgerald captures the glitter and the frenetic energy of a time where electricity and telephones and theaters were starting to take over society. He plays electric lights against natural light and firelight. He captures perfectly the strangeness of how overheard telephone conversations must have felt back then.
I definitely can see why this is a story that has endured for almost a hundred years. The way it’s written is easily understood by people almost a hundred years later. We all know the inventions, even if they are outdated now, or in entirely new versions. We understand the shallowness of people that Fitzgerald captures. We understand that polished glass loses its gleam after awhile.
And that’s why, if you want to read anything I’ve blogged about in 2013, read this.