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Yesterday I asked about the literal and symbolic or metaphorical meaning of...

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coutelle | Valedictorian

Posted March 29, 2013 at 9:04 PM via web

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Yesterday I asked about the literal and symbolic or metaphorical meaning of "suggestiveness" and "comment" in this excerpt of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chapter 8: 

For Daisy was young and her artificial world was redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery and orchestras which set the rhythm of the year, summing up the sadness and suggestiveness of life in new tunes. All night the saxophones wailed the hopeless comment of the Beale Street Blues while a hundred pairs of golden and silver slippers shuffled the shining dust. 

 

The answer, rather detailed and interesting was:

The paragraph from which this excerpt is taken is describing Daisy in the months after Gatsby had left for the war. She had thought she was passionately in love with him while he was still with her, but once he was gone, Daisy "was young" and unsure of herself and her feelings. Her life was built on superficial pleasures and "pleasant, cheerful snobbery." There was very little that was solid and definite about her attitude or her actions - the lyrics of popular jazz tunes could describe her life.

Some of the words to "Beale Street Blues" read:

I'd rather be here than any place I know...It's gonna take the sergeant for to make me go...Goin' to the river and there's a reason why, because the river's wet and Beale Street's done gone dry.

The music playing in the background of Daisy's life could suggest sadness, could suggest lost love, could suggest an empty life - literally, as Daisy looked for someone or something to give her life meaning, or metaphorically as a comment on the lifestyle of many in society during the Jazz Age era in which The Great Gatsby is set.

 

The problem is that I'm French, so, even if I understand and appreciate this answer, I'm still unable to grasp the precise sense of "suggestiveness." Could you please give me synonyms or paraphrases for this word. I thought it could mean "uncertainties" or "(vain) hopes." But I'm not sure at all. 

Thank you

 

 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 29, 2013 at 10:14 PM (Answer #1)

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Suggestive means evocative, hinting at, or conveying. In another context, "the National Anthem is suggestive of patriotism." 

In the context of Nick's description of Daisy, it seems that Nick is saying that Daisy was young and conflicted; she was always surrounded by the luxuries and superficialities of of her rich life, which eventually made her move on from Gatsby, who was overseas. Therefore, those luxuries and riches, which summed up the year (structured her life) suggested that she could not be with Gatsby; those structures, her life in that upper class, suggested that she would inevitably have to date other men and probably marry someone with money. That's what her life as a rich girl, who was treated like a princess, was suggesting to her; especially in Gatsby's absence. 

There is the indication that Daisy, who was in love with Gatsby, eventually had to move passed that love and get on with leading the life expected of her: as a rich, beautiful girl who should marry someone of her social/economic class. (At the time, Gatsby was penniless.) This implies that she was sad to let this love go, that she was sad to let it go and "move again with the season" of her privileged life. 

All night the saxophones wailed the hopeless comment of the BEALE STREET BLUES while a hundred pairs of golden and silver slippers shuffled the shining dust. 

In this quote, the wail of the saxophone (like crying) and the comment of the song (sadness and regret are common themes of the blues) are referring to Daisy's reluctant move from loving the penniless Gatsby to embracing her social, and probably her family's, expectation to move on and marry "up" (marry someone with financial security and maybe even notoriety). Here, "comment" means the "meaning" or the emotion, which happens to be the meaning and emotion of the blues song: sadness and regret. 

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