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In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, Chapter Six affords the reader a great deal of information about the mysterious Gatsby.
Based upon what is shared about Gatsby's history, the thing that impresses me the most, and makes Gatsby a believable character is his wish, and his ability to fulfill this wish, of being something he chooses to be, rather than making do with what he has been born to.
Gatsby describes his parents as “shiftless and unsuccessful farm people,” an identity he wants no part of. Though he strangely enough considers himself instead to b a son of God, he realistically dreams of what he wants in his life and he makes it happen. This is something some people can do out in the world, and it amazes me.
The fact that Gatsby, as he is climbing his way to the top, steps on those who are innocent and "hysterical," bothers me because I sense that the metamorphosis Gatsby wants to create for himself comes at the expense of others, showing him to be hard-hearted and self-centered. This, too, is believable.
As Gatsby gets older, he finds himself associated with Dan Cody, a man who moves through the world on his own terms. And while being in Cody's company can only help Gatsby on his journey, he is savvy enough to see Cody's weaknesses and avoid making those same mistakes. Once again, the man he wants to be is a product of planning and careful observation. This, too, seems not only believable, but an inherently intelligent move on Gatsby's part—taking steps to avoid personal failure.
Based on the information about Gatsby's past, his attitudes, and goals in life, I do find his actions believable. F. Scott Fitzgerald probably knew people like this: people who wanted to be something they were not, wanted to find a way to succeed despite family background, and possessing a intuitive sense as to how to use every option open to them to realize their goals.
Gatsby does not like his family roots: he sees no future if he settles to "come from" these kind of people. So he disassociates himself and provides himself with a fresh and perfect start: how could one better visualize himself headed for success without family baggage surrounding him, than to base the beginning of his life on the ideal of coming from God. (Strange as it is, it gives him a "clean" start.)
In terms of reaching his goals, he is a user: he treats those weaker than himself with disrespect and a lack of concern, and has no problem associating with disreputable characters (Cody) to improve his own situation. Though this may not be unusual behavior for some people, this shows an inherent flaw in Gatsby's character. Rising above his station in life is admirable: people have been reinventing themselves forever, but doing it at the expense of others is not a venerable trait.
Gatsby's unrealistic pursuit and perceptions of Daisy show him not to be grounding too firmly in reality, and this seems that it might be his undoing because he will see only that which he acknowledges to be true rather than what is actually true. To avoid difficulties in life, one needs to be realistic, with eyes wide open.
In this chapter we learn that Gatsby's real name was Jay Gatz. He was not a wealthy man just a few years ago and in fact found himself on a yacht with a man named Dan Cody as Cody's first mate. Cody struggled with alcohol addiction and Gatsby met Cody's needs. Cody trusted him and entrusted him with an amount of money after he passed away.
As a reader, it is easy to begin to believe that some of the rumors about Gatsby could have an amount of truth to them, but we want to believe the classy man who doesn't drink and calls everyone "old sport" is still a nice guy. Chapter 6 begins to uncover some of the past that may have lead to who Gatsby is today. Gatsby's aversion for alcohol might come from what he saw in Cody. Gatsby's want for a quick solution to a financial problem might have been encouraged by watching Cody acquire quick wealth in the Yukon. After learning from this, he might have gone about his own way to earn quick wealth, it just might not have been legal, but certainly allowed Gatsby to use his sweet personality to gain.
By this point in the story, it is hard for a reader to entertain that all of the rumors about Gatsby are only rumors. The repetition of them leads us to believe they just might be true.
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