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Could you please tell me the meaning of "attach itself" in this excerpt from the first...

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coutelle | Valedictorian

Posted July 7, 2013 at 11:13 AM via web

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Could you please tell me the meaning of "attach itself" in this excerpt from the first chapter of The Great Gatsby?

In consequence I'm inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 7, 2013 at 12:06 PM (Answer #1)

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The passage features Nick's reflection of how his temperament has been able to invite people into taking him into confidence.  He has articulated this as the result of him following his father's advice and refraining from passing judgments too quickly or in too rash of a manner.  Nick addresses how others have judged him too quickly in this regard.  He talks about how others have take his ability to to "reserve all judgments" as a way to gain leverage over others and manipulate their predicaments into his own political advantage.  For Nick, such a claim is a reflection of an "abnormal mind."  Nick views such criticisms of his sincerity as an embodiment of someone who is jealous, envious, or not of a sound mind or frame of reference.

In this condition, Nick sees such a mind as one that would "attach itself" to conjecture and presupposition after presupposition.  To "attach itself" means to become fixated upon an idea.  It means to draw an idea out from a condition that does not represent sound and coherent logic.  To "attach itself" means to become almost obsessed with an element.  In this, Nick uses the term to describe how someone who is not "normal" appropriates reality.  Given what will be seen in the text, there are many instances of the "abnormal mind" that does in fact "attach itself" to elements not grounded in reality.

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