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In Chapter Six of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald has his narrator, Nick Carroway, digress from the flow of his story of Nick’s introduction to New York society and his encounter with Jay Gatsby and the Buchanans to focus on the history of the titular character. Gatsby, Nick points out, had reinvented himself out of a sense of mordant disdain for the small-town rural existence to which he might otherwise have been destined. Noting that, at the relatively tender age of 17, the former James Gatz endeavored to invent an entirely new persona, complete with a new name, Jay Gatsby, Nick attempts to encapsulate his neighbor’s history with a reference to the life of Jesus. Young James Gatz recognized that he had the freedom and, obviously, the will to be born again and to rise up as an alternative being. Hence the following passage from Fitzgerald’s novel:
“I suppose he’d had the name ready for a long time, even then. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people—his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about His Father’s Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.”
Gatz/Gatsby was alienated from the parents legally credited with bringing him into the world and sought to definitively reject any such notion of blood ties to such dull, unsophisticated people. He would be born again – a veritable virgin birth -- as a sophisticated, debonair, man-about-town, and would leave North Dakota behind forever.
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