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Could you please tell me the precise meaning of "young" in this excerpt from the first...

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coutelle | Valedictorian

Posted August 23, 2013 at 3:08 PM via web

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

There was so much to read for one thing and so much fine health to be pulled down out of the young breath-giving air. 

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Payal Khullar | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted August 23, 2013 at 5:23 PM (Answer #1)

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This line is in the very first chapter of the novel The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald. It is summer time in the novel. And this is a time when the trees grow leaves on them rapidly, the flowers bloom, etc. The word “young” here is used for the air.

...young, breath-giving air...

But actually it describes these newly grown leaves on the trees that produce fresh breath (oxygen) that, obviously, when inhaled will render good health. So this air that has this fresh oxygen becomes "young" (metaphorically, of course!)

You can easily make out this if you read the line before the line we are discussing.

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow

The narrator, Nick, who has just shifted to a new place, feels that there is so much newness this place can offer him. There are wide possibilities for his professional growth and a good, renewed energy. It’s not just health, perhaps, that is the focus. It’s a refreshed, renewed life altogether.

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