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Could you please tell me the meaning of "casual" in the following excerpt from Chapter...

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coutelle | Valedictorian

Posted May 6, 2013 at 11:18 PM via web

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Could you please tell me the meaning of "casual" in the following excerpt from Chapter Eight of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald? Does it mean "in an ordinary street" or "people who might once have passed her casually in the street"?

The day-coach—he was penniless now—was hot. He went out to the open vestibule and sat down on a folding chair, and the station slid away and the backs of unfamiliar buildings moved by. Then out into the spring fields, where a yellow trolley raced them for a minute with people in it who might once have seen the pale magic of her face along the casual street. 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 7, 2013 at 4:55 AM (Answer #1)

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This passage is part of Gatsby's recounting of his experience of having returned from the war to Louisville and being unable to find Daisy. Disappointed, perceiving the city in a sort of "melancholy beauty," Gatsby watches a yellow trolley race against the fields with people in it

who might one have seen the pale magic of her face along the casual street.

Gatsby imagines the passengers of the trolley having once looked upon a street flashing by--an ordinary street that Daisy may have chanced to walk down. This street is given only a casual glimpse by the passengers; thus, Fitzgerald refers to it as a "casual street," as it is insignificant to the trolley riders on their way to their destination. But, Gatsby put out his hand to "save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him."

In this passage, the lyric writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, poetically captures the poignancy of Gatsby's nostalgia as he glorifies every minute with Daisy, even the one of the "casual street." Tragically, Gatsby extends his hand trying desperately capture the quickly the freshest part, but his retreating memory wins. 

 

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