How is the theme of love and healing portrayed in The Netherland and The Great Gatsby?

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Jay Gatsby of The Great Gatsby and Chuck Ramkissoon of Netherland share some interesting personality characteristics as well as a knack for reinvention. Both of them fall in love with the American dream, and both must heal when faced with the disappointing reality of America. Nick Carraway tells the story...

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Jay Gatsby of The Great Gatsby and Chuck Ramkissoon of Netherland share some interesting personality characteristics as well as a knack for reinvention. Both of them fall in love with the American dream, and both must heal when faced with the disappointing reality of America. Nick Carraway tells the story of Gatsby, while Hans van den Broek narrates the story of Chuck; both Nick and Hans befriend these larger-than-life men, which enables them to observe their heartbreak closely and learn their own lessons about love and healing.

Careful perusal of Nick's experiences in New York as a Midwesterner reveal his own expectations about life. He is drawn to Gatsby and Gatsby's hedonistic lifestyle. Because Gatsby trusts Nick, Nick soon sees all the glamour for what it really is: a cover-up, hiding corruption and dishonesty. New York loses its appeal, and Nick's fantasy of the America represented by New York fades. He learns from this disappointment, and he heals upon his return to the Midwest.

Hans is Dutch, and though he has been living in the city, he is still a stranger to certain parts of New York, especially after the events of 9/11. His attachment to Chuck, a dreamer from Trinidad who wants to bring cricket to New York, parallels Nick's attachment to Gatsby. Chuck's dreams of cricket fail him, much like Gatsby's dream of attaining Daisy dissolves, and by the end of the novel, Hans is left wondering what to make of Chuck's disappearance.

In both novels, an examination of an underdog's love for the potential life that America promises benefits from a close look at the people closest to that underdog character. Gatsby, Nick, Chuck, and Hans all experience loss, but the healing that takes place may be most visible in the characters of the narrators, Nick and Hans.

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