Which words contribute to the tone of mysterious excitement established in the 1st paragraph? (Gatsby ch6 last three paragraphs)"...one autumn night, five years before, they had been walking down...

Which words contribute to the tone of mysterious excitement established in the 1st paragraph? (Gatsby ch6 last three paragraphs)

"...one autumn night, five years before, they had been walking down the street when the leaves were falling, and they came to a place where there were no trees and the sidewalk was white with moonlight. they stopped here and turned toward each other. now it was a cool night with that mysterious excitement in it which comes at the two changes of the year. the quiet lights in the houses were humming out into the darkness and there was a stir and bustle among the stars. out of the corner of his eye Gatsby saw that the blocks of the sidewalks really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees-he could climb to it, if he clibed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder." - first paragraph

 

+) Explain the concept of "incarnation" in this passage.

Asked on by langlang

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mstultz72's profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Here are the most important parts (key words in bold):

Out of the corner of his eye Gatsby saw that the blocks of the sidewalks really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees—he could climb to it, if he climbed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder.

His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.

Through all he said, even through his appalling sentimentality, I was reminded of something—an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I had heard somewhere a long time ago. For a moment a phrase tried to take shape in my mouth and my lips parted like a dumb man’s, as though there was more struggling upon them than a wisp of startled air. But they made no sound, and what I had almost remembered was uncommunicable forever.

Nick is paraphrasing Gatsby's story of falling in love, perhaps for the first time, and the last time.  Since then, Gatsby admits, his life has been disoriented.  This is obviously before World War I, when he (and America) was young, boyish, innocent, idealistic, and romantic.

Gatsby is symbolic of America: his innocence in America's.  Daisy is symbolic of his past.  His longing to return to his past is akin to the Lost Generation wanting to recapture their lost boyhoods.  Since then, they've lost their identities over on the battlefields of Europe, while rich kids (Tom) stole their girls (Daisy) back home.

The passage is like a dreamy wedding.  Daisy is in white, and the kiss binds all their senses together: "breath," "mind," and "vision." There's also Biblical Garden of Eden imagery: the "tree," "heaven," "God."

So, the first two paragraphs are the romantic, Garden of Eden ideal: Gatsby's perfect vision.  The second is his Fall (like Adam and Eve's, when they sinned): he becomes "dumb," mute, and suffers memory loss.  This is Gatsby's greatest sin (mistake, tragic flaw): losing Daisy, and his greatest fear is losing the memory of that moment.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The passage you cite refers to the way that Gatsby felt back in Louisville when he was courting Daisy.

I would say that there are a number of words that contribute to this tone.

In the first paragraph itself, there is "mysterious excitement," "stir and bustle," "secret place" and "incomparable milk of wonder."

In the second paragraph, there is "unutterable visions."  In the last paragraph, I would say that we should look at "elusive rhythm" and "lost words."

All of these phrases help us see how special the feeling was that Daisy and Gatsby had.  And they help us understand why Gatsby feels the loss of Daisy so profoundly.

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