Could you please tell me the meaning of "closed out", "abortive" in the following excerpt of The Great Gatsby, chapter 1: No—Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby,...

Could you please tell me the meaning of "closed out", "abortive" in the following excerpt of The Great Gatsby, chapter 1: 

No—Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men. 

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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  • "Closed out" here means "blocked", "severely hampered", "snuffed out", or simply "ended".
  • "Abortive" means "abandoned" (or of the nature of abandonment), "unfinished" (or of an unfinished nature), or "incomplete" (or of the nature of incompletion). 

This sentence ends the opening passage of the novel. In this passage Nick aligns Gatsby dreaming and a special "sensitivity to the promises of life. However, Nick also suggests that Gatsby stands for qualities that Nick detests.

"Gatsby - who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn."

As the passage comes to a close, Nick provides a final assessment of Gatsby, balancing the positive and negative elements of his character and ignoring neither. Nick is implying in this sentence that Gatsby's true character is ultimately good, yet the passing moments and the individual episodes that Gatsby figures into are not all good. 

In fact, some of these moments are bad enough to make Nick forget that Gatsby is good at all. Nick here predicts the moments in the novel when he will doubt Gatsby's qualities and when he will actually give up on him (temporarily). Importantly, Nick also lets the reader know that, in the end, Nick's esteem for Gatsby will be intact, despite all the dramatic turns the story and their relationship will take.

This quote is important because it not only establishes the essence of the Gatsby character but it also foreshadows the very nature of the story and its primary themes: idealism, aspiration, and loss.

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

One more synonym: "Abortive" can be understood to mean "passing" or "temporary" in this context.

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