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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, is a story that yanks at your heart and pushes for your tears, it constantly craves your attention, and hooks you in its entrancing plot right up to the last word. The narrator of the story, Nick Carraway, moves to Long Island next door to the mansion which is the home of Jay Gatsby. The “great” Gatsby appears to be the pinnacle of the American dream, but Nick discovers that inside Gatsby’s tormented heart lies a love that has been long forgotten by the girl of Gatsby’s dreams. It seems that Gatsby can have anything he desires except for the only thing that matters to him: Daisy Buchanan. The plot of the story is Nick digging deeper into Gatsby’s past, and finding things that no one would ever have suspected. This book overflows with meaningful lessons and deep themes. The theme I am focusing on in this essay is “finding yourself.” I chose this theme because it is something I personally have been going through in my life, and it is something important that many characters in the book experience as well. In truth, it is something that everyone who lives and breathes faces at one time or another. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby reveals that nobody is born knowing who they are or what their purpose is; an acquaintance with self happens over time.
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American author during the roaring twenties or “the jazz age” as Fitzgerald himself would put it. Fitzgerald was a member of the “lost generation” in the 1920’s, the soldiers that were passed up by culture when they were away at war. Although Fitzgerald never wrote many novels, the works he did create have been treasured for many generations. His most famous piece, The Great Gatsby, has inspired countless writers since it was published in 1925. In response to the books success T. S. Elliot wrote a letter to Fitzgerald in which he says, “It seems to me to be the first step that American fiction has taken since Henry James” (“scott”). Fitzgerald married a girl named Zelda and they had one child, a daughter, whom they named Francis after her father. Along with all of Fitzgerald's obsessions and problems he had been an alcoholic since he was in college, but the immensity of his addiction grew larger with the years. After having experienced a couple heart attacks Fitzgerald died December 21st 1940. Here is a quote from a first hand account of Fitzgerald's death, “The following day, as Fitzgerald ate a candy bar and made notes in his newly arrived Princeton Alumni Weekly, Graham saw him jump from his armchair, grab the mantelpiece, gasp, and fall to the floor. She ran to the manager of the building, Harry Culver, founder of Culver City. Upon entering the apartment to assist Fitzgerald, he stated, "I'm afraid he's dead." Fitzgerald had died of a heart attack. His body was moved to the Pierce Brothers Mortuary” (“Scott”). For a while Fitzgerald just floated around life not quite sure who he was, but eventually he was forced to discover himself. This man drifted from glamorous life, to the army, to writing, he even started up a family. Fitzgerald tried many different things while figuring out what he enjoyed; just like all of us must do. This was part of him trying to discover more about who he really was.
After the birth of his child, Fitzgerald, his wife, and their baby moved to Long Island. This is where he got the inspiration for the setting of The Great Gatsby. The story takes place in the 1920’s, the same time period in which Fitzgerald and his wife lived. He wrote lots of his books about the times he lived in, which enabled him to record history in his stories (“find”). Fitzgerald himself also joined the army, just like Gatsby (“American”). A reason Fitzgerald wrote this novel was to help people learn that the most important thing that can be understood is oneself. He shows this again in his book, This Side of Paradise, saying, “‘I know myself,’ he cried, ‘but that is all’” (Fitzgerald 191). That is why he shows how people get to the point of “knowing” themselves. There is always a story behind someone who loves and accepts themselves, nobody gets to that place right away.
The best quality that pertains to The Great Gatsby is the high quality of the writing. Everything is said just as it had to be to make the story as successful and well loved as it is today. All the features of this novel are outstanding: the plot and subplots, the characters, the representations and morals. In fact about 99% of this story is perfect. Just as critic Don Berman says in response to the book, “There's no such thing as a flawless novel. But if there is, this is it” (Jackson 25). While reading the novel I learned that a story does need complexity to be successful, and sometimes simple novels are the best of all. Although this book may be an easy read, that does not mean it has excluded an abundance of themes, morals, and lessons. The Great Gatsby has something new to offer every time you read it. A memorable quote from the story was after Gatsby's death Nick says, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther...And one fine morning...” (Fitzgerald 180). This quote truly expresses how Gatsby was able to hold such a strong faith in such a miniscule thing as a green light near Daisies house. It also explains how no matter how hard Gatsby tries, he can never reach what he most desires. The quote portrays the picture that Gatsby was no closer to Daisy before their reuniting then he was after. Gatsby was using Daisies’ love as a sense of identity, he had built his life around his devotion to her. This is a similar idea to what I found in a professional review of the story, which says, “Gatsby is a man in love. Nothing more. He concentrated all of his life on winning Daisy back” (“Topham”). Once that identity Gatsby had in Daisy was gone, he had no idea who he was or what he wanted to do with his life. This shows that even the “great” Gatsby had to search in order to discover what he really wanted, just like the rest of us.
I personally had a fantastic response to Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby. I was swept away by the fascinating characters. When Gatsby grinned that special grin of his, I found myself smiling right along with him. When tears swam down Daisy’s cheek, I would feel her sorrow deep within my chest. I felt all the frustration running through Nick’s mind in my own head as I read through his encounters. In this story, I learned that if you want something it is not just going to float your way freely, you have to work for what you want. The Great Gatsby is a row of dominoes waiting to be knocked over, but unfortunately once all the dominoes tumble down, you find yourself at the last page of the book. Throughout the rising tensions of the book, there was a constant wish of being able to flick the first domino and start the chain reaction, but there was a sadness when all of the plot started to unfold. My favorite quote from the story was from the scene after Gatsby had been in a car accident with Daisy and they hit a woman with their car, killing her. Nick did not want to leave Gatsby alone after this experience but reluctantly left to go work. He felt he should leave Gatsby with a nice word so he said this to Gatsby about his co-workers, “‘They’re a rotten crowd’ I shouted across the lawn. ‘You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together’” (Fitzgerald 160). I am intrigued by this quote because it is the point where you realize that even though Nick utterly disapproves of Gatsby’s entire being, in the end he appreciates him as much as everyone else seems to. The main lesson that I will take away from this book is, do things before it is too late. This is huge because if we let opportunities pass us by because of our foolishness, we may never have a chance to fulfill them again. This makes me realize that I can reach out there and get what I need, there is no need to be afraid of being myself anymore. It is alright to be different from other people, in fact it is called having a personality!
When compared to a professional review of Fitzgerald’s book, The Great Gatsby, my report seems a bit more personal rather than informative. It seems that every review I read on this book is positive. No one seems to have a bad thing to say about it. I would definitely recommend this book, in fact it is my new favorite. This novel is so well written and thought through, that it can be mind blowing at times. Everything had to be planned carefully and the details had to have specific attention in order for the book to make sense. This is an all around magnificent story that I would reccomend to anyone who asked. It genuinely helped me to realize that I need to search if I want to find myself, I need to pursue things if I want to understand them, and I must follow my mind as well as my heart if I want to know who I am. I must uncover my true beliefs and feelings if I ever want to be happy. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby reveals that nobody is born knowing who they are or what their purpose is; an acquaintance with self happens over time.

Works Cited
Fitzgerald, Francis. The Great Gatsby. New York: Carroll & Graf publishers, 1925. Print.
“F. Scott Fitzgerald.” Find a Grave. 1 Jan. 2001. Web. 16 April 2013.
“F. Scott Fitzgerald-The Great Gatsby.” American Writers. C-SPAN. Web. 14 April 2013.
“The Great Gatsby.” Amazon Prime, Amazon. Web. 16 April 2013.
“The Great Gatsby: Book Review.” Scott Berkun. 28 March 2013. web. 16 April 2013.

The Great Gatsby Book Review. James Topham. n.d. Web. 30 April 2013.
“The Great Gatsby.” Wikipedia. Demand Media, n.d. Org. 23 April. 2013.
“Scott-Fitzgerald.” F. Scott Fitzgerald-An Annotated Bibliography. Web. 16 April 2013.

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