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What are some quotes (chapter and page) that describe Jay Gatsby as being Christ-like?I...

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iwantlearn94 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 10, 2010 at 9:56 AM via web

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What are some quotes (chapter and page) that describe Jay Gatsby as being Christ-like?

I am doing an essay describing how Jay Gatsby, in The great Gatsby, is referred to and compared to Jesus Christ.  I need some quotes to back my thesis.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 10, 2010 at 11:44 PM (Answer #1)

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On the first or second page of Chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby (my pagination is likely different from yours), Nick narrates:

I suppose he'd had the name ready for a long time, even then. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people--his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God--a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that--and he must be about His Father's Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.

Using Christian imagery and metaphor, Nick says that Gatsby was his own God and, for practical means, spawned himself. His re-invented self, Jay Gatsby, was a kind of savior and sacrifice for the old self, for it/he was full of promise and idealism.  This process is much like the Christian concept of salvation, that a sinner is born again, and, later, becomes baptized, cleansed and reborn into the new faith.

As such, Jay Gatsby, this new version of James Gatz, is analogous to America itself.  America too spawned from the Old World (Europe) and re-created itself as a land of promise and idealism.

Earlier in the novel, Gatsby also connects the "son" to "God" when he asks Nick his opinion of him:

"I'll tell you God's truth." His right hand suddenly ordered divine retribution to stand by. "I am the son of some wealthy people in the middle-west--all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition."

It's all a lie, of course, but Gatsby's sacrosanct posturing is so overt that it seems like he has convinced himself of his lie.  All this is very much like the way nationalistic people talk about America: in glowing terms.  These conscious lies are what we want to believe about our country and ourselves.  It's all part of the American dream.

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susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted November 11, 2010 at 1:59 AM (Answer #2)

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Jay Gatsby does re-invent himself, and this transformation is referred to in biblical terms, as if he is indeed the son of God.  However, Gatsby's actions at the end of the novel can be compared to those of Jesus, perhaps in a less ironic way.  Gatsby acts as the scapegoat for Daisy; he is willing to accept and take the blame for the crimes (sins) that are committed by another.  In Chapter 8, He quite willingly tells Nick that he will say that he was driving the car that fatally hit Myrtle. 

“Was Daisy driving?”

“Yes,” he said after a moment, “but of course I’ll say I was."

He  literally takes the blame when Myrtle's husband kills him, mistaking him for Tom Buchanan, Myrtle's lover and in Wilson's mind, her killer.  In this way, Gatsby assumes the guilt of both Daisy and Tom, and, though innocent, dies as a result.  He unwittingly gives his life to save others.  Tom and Daisy are able to escape any legal retribution for their actions. 

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