So there have been dozens of books, papers, essays, sad high school term papers and blog posts written on the classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald so it’s likely that few book lovers haven’t read it, either by want or requirement. It was questionable as to whether I was going to write this review because it’s not really a review so much as why I love The Great Gatsby. I read it every year and it’s not exactly an uplifting book. I think it has more to do with the fact that I can empathize with Jay Gatsby.
He’s not the most morally upright guy or a Jazz Age Atticus Finch but despite his deeply flawed intentions and philosophy, I feel for Gatsby. I think we all have been in a situation where someone we were crazy about was just wrong wrong wrong for us but we thought our whole world hinged on them loving us back. Even if you’ve not had this problem with a person, there are things that have been our green light, just like Gatsby’s.
What brings me back to this book each year is not the exciting, action-filled plot, because short of a small car crash there isn’t much excitement, but it’s the self-destructive actions of Gatsby hidden behind a seemingly pure pursuit. It’s a hopeless romanticism that is doomed, so doomed, but is chased by an idealist. It’s Gatsby’s blindness to the coming trainwreck that haunts and fascinates me.
Is he just misguided? Is he just a bit, shall we say, immature to the ways of relationships and truly thinks that if Daisy only said she never loved Tom it will be a drastic reset of time? Would Jay’s need to possess Daisy turn toxic and might he become more like Tom or worse?
What it comes down to is I read The Great Gatsby because, like most literature, it has something to teach that I think important. No, it has a lot to teach. Perhaps compassion from Nick, as he watches a man he grows fond of sprint down a dead-end path. Maybe we can learn from Gatsby that even the best of intentions are leading us down a road we’re not meant to travel. Is Daisy a victim of her circumstances, trapped in a marriage or is she giving hope to a former lover when there really is no hope for him? Are we doing the same to someone in our lives?
Maybe we can learn to pursue our passions, in a better way than Gatsby, and never give up on capturing something we lost or maybe the green light across the bay could be calling us to our doom.