How might this quote from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald be written in the style and language of a child? The tears coursed down her cheeks--not freely, however, for when they came into...

How might this quote from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald be written in the style and language of a child?

The tears coursed down her cheeks--not freely, however, for when they came into contact with her heavily beaded eyelashes they assumed an inky color, and pursued the rest of their way in slow black rivulets.

Asked on by bergcar

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auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The quote to which you refer can be found in chapter three of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. and it refers to one of the women who is attending Gatsby's party. This is the first of Gatsby's parties Nick has been invited to, and it is all a little overwhelming for him. He sees everyone getting drunk and maudlin as they gossip about their host, who seems to be as much of an enigma to them as he is to Nick. He begins to wonder if anyone has ever met their host, and then he meets Gatsby.

When Jordan is called away, Nick is once more drawn in to the excessive party atmosphere and is taken aback my many of the outrageous sights he sees. One of those is this image of a woman leaning against a piano and singing a rather weepy and maudlin song:

The tears coursed down her cheeks--not freely, however, for when they came into contact with her heavily beaded eyelashes they assumed an inky color, and pursued the rest of their way in slow black rivulets.

Like her emotions, her make-up is exaggerated and overdone. We are all rather amused and even a little disgusted by her overly sentimental behavior, but we can understand it comes from some kind of heartache (her friend says it was because of a fight with the man she is with) coupled with too much alcohol. We would see her as a pathetic figure.

A child, however, would see this image and have an entirely different reaction, I suspect. He would either be horrified yet fascinated by the spectacle or he would find it extremely amusing and even humorous. A rewritten version of this description for the horrified/fascinated child might sound something like this:

When she cried, her tears turned black and started running down her face. It was so weird, but she did not seem to mind because she was kept crying.

A more humorous take on this image might go something like this:

You should have seen it. This girl was crying and her eyelashes started melting and turned her tears black--and they ran down her face like muddy water. And she didn't even seem to notice!

In either case, this image would be something a kid would remember and talk about long after the incident was forgotten by the adults who saw it. 

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tyler-k's profile pic

tyler-k | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

As it is, the quote is very wordy and descriptive. My experience with children and the way they speak is that they notice the same details that adults do, they just see them in simpler ways. I rewrote the sentence in a way I believe one of my younger cousins might say something.

"She was crying a lot, but her tears were black because of her make-up. It looked like she had black rivers running down her cheeks."

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