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Fitzgerald's own life and personal experiences are reflected frequently in the novel. Here are some passages to illustrate:
"He [Gatsby] talked a lot about the past and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was . . ."
This passage from Chapter VI relates to Fitzgerald's own life in that, like Gatsby, he thought a great deal about the past, especially his past with the woman who had consumed his life. In Fitzgerald's case, this was his wife, Zelda. At the time he wrote The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald's life was certainly "confused and disordered." He and Zelda were caught up in celebrity, drinking too much, quarreling often, and spending more money than Fitzgerald could earn as a novelist. (Fitzgerald had often been forced to abandon his serious writing to produce short stories to pay the bills.)
He said on at least one occasion that if he and Zelda could only go back and start over, they could do things right the second time. This feeling is reflected in Gatsby's dream of repeating the past:
". . . after she [Daisy] was free, they were to go back to Louisville and be married from her house--just as if it were five years ago."
Also, this passage from Chapter V reflects an essential element in Fitzgerald's personality that shaped his life and life experiences to come. Like Jimmy Gatz and the young Jay Gatsby before he had acquired great wealth, Fitzgerald in his own youth had been dominated by romantic dreams:
"But his heart was in a constant, turbulent riot. The most grotesque and fantastic conceits haunted him in his bed at night. A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock ticked on the wash-stand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor."
As a boy growing up in St. Paul, Fitzgerald's heart, too, had been filled with "a constant, turbulent riot." He dreamed of living a life filled with wealth, beauty, glamor, and excitement; he was restless and determined to seek and find it. In this passage, one can imagine Fitzgerald back home in St. Paul after World War I, working feverishly to revise his manuscript that would become This Side of Paradise, imagining the romantic life it might finally unlock for him.
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