Can't Repeat The Past Why Of Course You Can

 Nick tells Gatsby, "You can't repeat the past," Gatsby replies, "Why of course you can."  Why do you agree with Nick or with Gatsby?  

Chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter One of The Great Gatsby, a dreamy Jay Gatsby stares longingly at the green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan's pier.  He dreams of the girl he met before he went to war, and hopes to regain her.  This quest for the love of Daisy, despite her having married Tom Buchanan, is but a romantic illusion.  The past that Gatsby hopes to regain is irretrievable; Daisy is not only older, but she is now a mother and wife; Gatsby himself is not the young innocent that he was when he first met Daisy.  For, he has worked for Dan Cody and has made such shady connections as Meyer Wolfscheim. 

Nevertheless, Gatsby fashions for himself an unreality out of reality, "a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy's wing."  He purchases a home on West Egg, he holds parties with hundreds of people who do not know him,  he smiles and smiles, he buys shirts of every color, purchases a car of leather-bound interior and fenders like wings, he gulps down the "incomparable milk of wonder," but Daisy is offended by West Egg, "this unprecendented place that Broadway had begotten upon a Long Island fishing village."

Gatsby is a dreamer, imagining the American Dream in which a poor boy can rise to riches and attain whatever it is that he wants, or to

...recover...some idea of himself...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.

The light at the end of Daisy's pier is that secret place where Gatsby hopes to climb and "gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder," the image of Daisy that he holds in his heart.  It is all but a dream, an illusion of a past, a quest for love and happiness that is never realized for the tragic Gatsby, who lies dead, a sacrificial victim to the excesses of an age.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with Nick.

However, a person who is so completely willing to engage in pretense and make believe as Gatsby is might be able to convince himself that this possible. This ability on Gatby's part is really an ability to fantasize though and so does not convincingly defeat Nick's point.

Wiggin42 | Student

I agree with Nick because you can only move forward; not back. Even though Gatsby was able to relive his past romance with Daisy for a short while; it was nothing like the original romance. Daisy cannot forget how she has moved on with life by marrying Tom and having a child. Gatsby might be able to delude himself into thinking that he can repeat the past, but its futile. We all remember what happened to us and can never go back to a time before something so traumatic happened. 

udonbutterfly | Student

I agree with Nick all the way. Gatsby is trying his best to relive the past with new circumstance. And what I mean that is that Gatsby is acquiring wealth so that he gain Daisy's hand and live like the old days when they were together but this time with him not begin so poor. This desire to relive the path just leads to his death.

abeautifulfool | Student

I agree with both. Gatsby was so in love with the idea of retrieving the past and while you can't exactly repeat it, you can try and he did try and it worked. He repeated the past, what he didn't realise was that in the past Daisy had left him while he was away at war which meant she would only leave him again. So you can repeat the past but you can't achieve a different outcome. However, you can't always repeat the past. 1. Sometimes it's not possible. 2. Sometimes it just isn't good to repeat the past.

yakita | Student

I agree with Gasby because.............

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The Great Gatsby

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