What are some of the most important quotes from The Last Tycoon (what episode are they in) and how do they relate to its central theme?

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allie-draper eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are lots of great quotes to choose from in The Last Tycoon—but how you pick them depends on what you think the novel's central theme is. Some readers identify the "American Dream" as a theme and point to Stahr as the embodiment of that hope. His world, however, quickly proves to unable to sustain it; the people around him are entirely focused on the production of illusions to such an extent that illusion forms the foundation of his life. Others point to the West Coast setting ("where the last frontier has been pressed against the barrier of the Pacific") and argue that Fitzgerald is trying to "to work through the consequences of a nation facing the fact that it no longer had an infinity of possible futures" (eNotes). Still others think the novel emphasizes nostalgia, the disconnect between a golden past and a bleak future.

With those in mind, here are a couple quotes to get you started:

“These lights, this brightness, these clusters of human hope, of wild desire—I shall take these lights in my fingers. I shall make them bright, and whether they shine or not, it is in these fingers that they shall succeed or fail.” (Working Notes)

The above is reflective of both Stahr's hope and his determination.

"It takes more than brains. You writers and artists poop out and get all mixed up, and somebody has to come in and straighten you out." He shrugged his shoulders. "You seem to take things so personally, hating people and worshipping them--always thinking people are so important-especially yourselves. You just ask to be kicked around. I like people and I like them to like me, but I wear my heart where God put it--on the inside.” (Chapter 1)

Stahr comments on the illusions of those around him (and maybe reveals a few of his own—does he really wear his heart on the inside?).

"This is not the kind of story I want. The story we bought had shine and glow - it was a happy story. This is all full of doubt and hesitation. The hero and heroine stop loving each other over trifles - then they start up again over trifles. After the first sequence you don't care if she never sees him again or he her.” (Episode 9)

Stahr continues to seek control, to shape his story, even as it (prophetically) begins taking turns he did not anticipate, losing its luster.

Read the study guide:
The Last Tycoon

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