Why does Gatsby feel like he can recreate the past?

Gatsby feels like he can recreate the past because of his own existential conception of freedom and his own identity. In this process, Gatsby is able to become a mighty figure while simultaneously rendering himself as a flawed figure.

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To a great extent, Gatsby feels that he can recreate the past because of an unlimited faith in his own freedom.  Gatsby is the embodiment of an American Dream conception in which there is no external limitation to the subjective wishes of the individual.  This has been a part of the Gatsby's identity as far back as one can go.  The notion of redefinition extends to his ability to recreate the past, his own past, in the belief of what he seeks the present and future to be.  In this sense, Gatsby's faith in his own freedom and the confidence he has in his own dreams enables him to control anything, including the narrative of the past.  For Gatsby, this is something that is a part of his own identity, something that Nick himself notes:  "The truth was that Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself."  Gatsby refuses to let his own past of poverty and struggle impact who he is and what he wishes to become.  It is in this notion that Gatsby feels he is able to recreate his own past and that the past is only a reflection of a present and future.  It is in his faith in dreams and his own subjectivity in which Gatsby feels the power to recreate his own past.  The past is merely a part of a larger narrative of the present and future that Gatsby feels is essential in driving one's own sense of the conditional, of what can be as opposed to what is.  This faith is what enables him to be both a mighty figure, but also a mighty flawed figure, with strength and weakness being simultaneously evident in his construction.

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