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Could you please tell me what Nick means when he speaks in the first chapter ofThe...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted April 13, 2013 at 3:32 PM via web

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Could you please tell me what Nick means when he speaks in the first chapter ofThe Great Gatsby of "riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart"?

When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 14, 2013 at 12:46 AM (Answer #1)

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A riot is "a wild...disturbance created by a large number of people." 

As Nick is remembering his activities during his time living East, the things that he remembers most strongly are the wild parties filled with lots of people who didn't know or care about each other, who were interested in drinking and dancing and being seen but didn't want to truly get involved with any one else. Nick wanted to get away from that kind of superficial society.

In addition, Nick often became aware of the problems or concerns of others because they talked with him, even when he didn't ask about or want to know what they were saying. This was not a new experience to him; as a college student, he had often been told "the secret griefs of wild, unknown men." Nick didn't want to have to deal with any more "intimate revelations of young men" or women, which he described later as being "privileged glimpses into the human heart."

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