F. Scott Fitzgerald American Literature Analysis
In one of the most haunting passages of The Great Gatsby, the narrator, Nick Carraway, sees his mysterious neighbor perform a strange ritual:[H]e stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness.
What Gatsby is trying to do in the novel, literally as well as symbolically, is reach out to recapture the past. For Gatsby, that past is embodied in Daisy Buchanan, the woman he loved as a young lieutenant while stationed in her hometown in the South. He loves her still and, as a rich man, hopes to regain her and in doing so recapture his youthful dreams and promise.
It is a scene and a dream that runs throughout Fitzgerald’s fiction. All of his heroes carry that sense of the lost past, of misspent promise. They are outsiders in some form or other—usually because they come from the lower or middle class—and they are further set apart because of the high goals and exacting standards they have set for themselves. From Amory Blame, in Fitzgerald’s first novel, through Monroe Stahr, in his last, left unfinished at the time of his death, Fitzgerald created protagonists who aspired to be larger than life but who were...
(The entire section is 5879 words.)
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