Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – May 9, 2014

The Great Gatsby - First Edition cover 
(eyes are from the all-seeing billboard of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, oculist)

This novella about one man's fixation on a girl after a brief acquaintance, and then an enforced absence, has become a classic of American literature. It continues to sell in tens of thousands of copies 80 years later

KumKum reading

Five films have been made, and the last two are far better than the novel, in that by applying the scriptwriter's art and the cinematographer’s , the scenes acquire a lustre and the jerky gaps in the tale are filled out.

Pamela, Kavita, Talitha, Priya

Three new members joined us to read. Our welcome to them, and we hope they will be able to stay the course, participate avidly, and enjoy.

Govind & Priyadarshini, new readers

Here we are at the end of the session on a day the sky had cleared after several days of rain.

Joe, KumKum, Ankush, Vijay, Priyadarshini, Talitha, Priya, Esther, Kavita, Pamela, Mathew


To read the full account click below ...

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Reading on May 9, 2014

Present: Esther, KumKum, Joe, Mathew, Talitha, Kavita, Ankush, Priya Sharma, Priyadarshini, Vijay Govind, Pamela John
Absent: Preeti (chaos of moving from Mumbai), Thommo (abroad), Sunil (busy with daughters' admissions), Zakia (out of town),

These are the dates for the next two sessions:
June 13: Poetry
July 11: Howard's End by E.M. Forster

We introduced three new readers and welcomed them: Pamela John, Vijay Govind, and Priyadarshini.


1. Esther
Esther read a series of passages (Jordan Baker is the narrator) which summarise Daisy's life and the many changes that occurred in a short span of time – which was why she selected the passages. T starts with the time she was Daisy Fay, a girl in demand, till she met a young army lieutenant and was seen in his car; then her marriage to Tom Buchanan, and the recognition of Jay Gatsby described by Jordan in West Egg five years later, as the man who once loved her in Louisville.


2. KumKum
KumKum's appreciation
The Great Gatsby is considered a classic American novel! It is widely taught in American literature classes. During KumKum's student days' there, she met serious young classmates who could quote pages from this book. At that time, she had only seen the 1974 movie version of the book where Robert Redford and Mia Furrow acted the lead roles. It was a lovely movie, all actors living their roles in a Gatsby world, exactly the way Fitzgerald depicted them in the book.

Some would say Gatsby is a story of LOVE. KumKum thought it was a story of a lasting, perverse infatuation – that too quite one-sided.

It is a story set in the 1920s, in and around the New York city and Long Island. Wealth, newly acquired by illegal means, gave rise to big mansions, grand parties peopled by young men and women in fashionable clothes and fancy cars, too. Though it was the Prohibition Era, people drank smuggled liquor freely. The materialism in the book comes with the glitter, as well as, the darker side.

Fitzgerald does a wonderful job in depicting this particular slice of American history. His writing style and, his use of language are just as frothy, luxurious, and iridescent as his subject. This is where the greatness of this book rests.

KumKum read a couple of passages that illustrated her point. It ends with Gatsby showing Daisy his shirts “stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, with monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily. … I've never seen such — such beautiful shirts before.”

Gatsby's silk shirts from the 1974 movie with Robert Redford & Mia Farrow

Esther recalled this scene from the 2013 Baz Luhrmann movie with the shirts tumbling down – it is shot from below to give the appearance of immersion in shirts. KumKum said the 1974 version was also great movie entertainment.


3. Ankush
He chose passages in which the tragedy to come is foreseeable. Tragedy according to Aristotle (said Ankush) is not death, but the seed of tragedy lies in a series of misjudgments:
Thus the hamartia,or shortcoming, in the tragic hero may refer to something within the man, or to an outward act, a particular shortcoming or case of misjudgment, which brings about his downfall. The same is true of the word mimesis, or imitation.
(Aristotle, On The Art Of Poetry)

In this book there is a difference between Gatsby's and Daisy's approach to love. Gatsby loves an ideal version of Daisy, far removed from the real person, and having created that image in his mind, he will steadfastly go after it, her absence no bar to him in pursuing his one love. Daisy has her feet on the ground, and just goes on from one episode of love to the next without wasting time. Priya, however, thinks there is a tussle going on inside her. Talitha thought we tend to idealise Gatsby. Ankush brought in the class differences: West Egg has the less classy, new money, East Egg the old money. Here is the actual topography of the two promontories of land sticking out into Long Island Sound with a bay between them: 

Great Gatsby locale - East Egg = Port Washington, West Egg = Great Neck, and Long Island Sound, New York City


4. Mathew
CJ thought you can discuss any book threadbare. Here it is the author's depiction of a shallow society, which nevertheless holds interest for common people, because we are excited to read about the rich and the famous. Joe thought the lovely cars they drove as a good reason for the uber-rich to exist. How else could one see a 1929 Dusenberg Model J on the road unless a Jay Gatsby could afford it:

Dusenberg 1929 Model J was used in a story set in 1922 - the Baz Luhrmann 2013 film

This contrasted with KumKum who thought the best reason that justifies wealthy over-consumption is “shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, with monograms of Indian blue.”


5. Priya
Priya read from the first page (always raises a suspicion, doesn't it?). Why is this novel popular? It was panned by critics, like H.L. Mencken who said the novel was scarcely more than an anecdote at 55,000 words:

although he conceded “There are pages so artfully contrived that one can no more imagine improvising them than one can imagine improvising a fugue. They are full of little delicacies, charming turns of phrase, penetrating second thoughts.”

Here's more from Fitzgerald's critics:

It seems 155,000 copies were printed and circulated among the American soldiers who came very late into WWI when the worst was over. A large stack of copies lay unsold in warehouses when Fitzgerald died. But today since it is required reading on American campuses in English Litt classes, there is a steady market of about 500,000 copies a year. Besides it keeps spawning films (four or five have been made so far).


6. Talitha
In Talitha's passage (which was also the first selection of Joe) this seminal exchange occurs:
"I wouldn't ask too much of her," I ventured. "You can't repeat the past."
"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"

Nick's impossibility statement comes true, but Gatsby was perennially reliving a narrow slice of the past when he knew Daisy and romanced her, and couldn't get her. The novel is all about resetting the clock, removing the inconvenient husband, Tom Buchanan, and reasserting Gatsby's claim on Daisy.


7. Kavita
She read the passage in which Tom reveals to the cuckolded husband, Wilson, that it was Gatsby's car that knocked down his wife, Myrtle. Ankush made a statement to the effect that it is a “moral shortcoming to be honest about being dishonest (meaning what?).”

KumKum said only Gatsby knew that it was Daisy who was driving when Myrtle was knocked down. Talitha said if Tom had not peached on Gatsby, he himself might have been shot by Wilson for the killing, for Wilson thought Tom was the one driving. Lucky for Tom, at one stroke he got rid of Wilson and Gatsby, so he could take Daisy away and continue his desultory career in adultery while keeping his prize-wife, Daisy. But he could not have predicted the outcome.

Daisy was a high-maintenance sort of girl, said Kavita.


8. Pamela
Pamela, though coming for the first time, read a piece suggested by others, the scene where Nick relates to Gatsby the identity of the person killed by his car in the accident, and Gatsby says Daisy was the one driving and he wanted to protect her.


9. Joe
Since all three of his selections had been read by others, Joe just offered his comments. There are some puzzles in the book. First, it is deliberately vague about the antecedents of Jay Gatsby, and even after his death we don't gather much more than the insinuations made by those who drank his liquor in West Egg and then maligned him. Second, it is supposed to be about a man who cannot forget his first and only love, Daisy, whom he met and courted when he was too poor to press his suit, and then because he had to go to war, didn't see her again for five years. So sketchy is the affair in its retelling that we cannot complete a sympathetic contract with Daisy or Jay Gatsby; hence as a romance recalled it is quite flat. The same ineptitude affects Fitzgerald's account of the adulterous affair between Tom and Myrtle. The adventure of adultery is missing. If it's a romp it does not seem like one, more like a fumble, some furtive goings on, as lifeless as it is passionless.

The movies were much better than the book. The one in 1974 with Robert Redford & Mia Farrow with script by Coppola is wonderful. Joe hasn't seen the 2013 version by Baz Luhrmann with Leonardo di Capriccio (and Amitabh Bachchan as Wolfsheim), but Esther seemed to think it was a fine movie too. So you can think of The Great Gatsby as a novel whose deficiencies are more than made up for, and all its lack of imaginative colour compensated by the script-writers and cinematographers of Hollywood, who have given it an unforgettable lusciousness.

Talitha thought Joe's objections about the adultery were invalidated by Fitzgerald's description of Myrtle:
"She was in the middle thirties, and faintly stout, but she carried her surplus flesh sensuously as some women can. Her face, above a spotted dress of dark blue crepe-de-chine, contained no facet or gleam of beauty, but there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smouldering. She smiled slowly and, walking through her husband as if he were a ghost, shook hands with Tom, looking him flush in the eye. Then she wet her lips, and without turning around spoke to her husband in a soft, coarse voice..."

All good. But where’s the action? Priya suggested Joe wanted a bedroom scene between Tom & Myrtle. From there the conversation drifted to the owner of Saravana Bhavan who figured n a NY Times article:

He has a weakness for the wives of his managers in the company, and even got one of them murdered to make free with his wife. Not that Mr Rajagopal's example can be held up as an exemplary novelistic treatment of adultery.

KumKum siad Tom Duddy sighed when he heard we were going to read the book of which he holds a high opinion. KumKum wondered if Amitabh Bachchan was cast in the 2013 film of Baz Luhrmann only to entice the huge movie audience in India to go and see the film.


10. Vijay Govind
Vijay said that one character is revealed at the end, Meyer Wolfsheim, who was the discoverer of Gatsby's potential for crime.
He mentioned that Wolfsheim is modeled on a chap who is alleged to have fixed the World Series in 1919, Rothstein. See

The World Series (America is the world for Americans) is defined here:

The Chicago White Sox team lost the series to the Cincinnati Reds, and eight White Sox players were later accused of intentionally losing games in exchange for money from gamblers. A Baseball Commissioner was appointed the following year to supervise the game.

Wolfsheim excuses himself from coming to the funeral as he doesn't want to be exposed and get mixed up in the demise of his protégé.


The Readings

1. Esther
(1) One October day in nineteen-seventeen — (said Jordan Baker that afternoon, sitting up very straight on a straight chair in the tea-garden at the Plaza Hotel)
I was walking along from one place to another, half on the sidewalks and half on the lawns. I was happier on the lawns because I had on shoes from England with rubber nobs on the soles that bit into the soft ground. I had on a new plaid skirt also that blew a little in the wind, and whenever this happened the red, white, and blue banners in front of all the houses stretched out stiff and said tut-tut-tut-tut, in a disapproving way.
The largest of the banners and the largest of the lawns belonged to Daisy Fay's house. She was just eighteen, two years older than me, and by far the most popular of all the young girls in Louisville. She dressed in white, and had a little white roadster, and all day long the telephone rang in her house and excited young officers from Camp Taylor demanded the privilege of monopolizing her that night. "Anyways, for an hour!"
When I came opposite her house that morning her white roadster was beside the curb, and she was sitting in it with a lieutenant I had never seen before. They were so engrossed in each other that she didn't see me until I was five feet away.
"Hello, Jordan," she called unexpectedly. "Please come here."
I was flattered that she wanted to speak to me, because of all the older girls I admired her most. She asked me if I was going to the Red Cross and make bandages. I was. Well, then, would I tell them that she couldn't come that day? The officer looked at Daisy while she was speaking, in a way that every young girl wants to be looked at some time, and because it seemed romantic to me I have remembered the incident ever since. His name was Jay Gatsby, and I didn't lay eyes on him again for over four years — even after I'd met him on Long Island I didn't realize it was the same man.
That was nineteen-seventeen. By the next year I had a few beaux myself, and I began to play in tournaments, so I didn't see Daisy very often. She went with a slightly older crowd — when she went with anyone at all. Wild rumors were circulating about her — how her mother had found her packing her bag one winter night to go to New York and say good-by to a soldier who was going overseas. She was effectually prevented, but she wasn't on speaking terms with her family for several weeks. After that she didn't play around with the soldiers any more, but only with a few flat-footed, short-sighted young men in town, who couldn't get into the army at all.
(2) By the next autumn she was gay again, gay as ever. She had a debut after the Armistice, and in February she was presumably engaged to a man from New Orleans. In June she married Tom Buchanan of Chicago, with more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before. He came down with a hundred people in four private cars, and hired a whole floor of the Muhlbach Hotel, and the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
I was a bridesmaid. I came into her room half an hour before the bridal dinner, and found her lying on her bed as lovely as the June night in her flowered dress — and as drunk as a monkey. She had a bottle of Sauterne in one hand and a letter in the other.
(3) She began to cry — she cried and cried. I rushed out and found her mother's maid, and we locked the door and got her into a cold bath. She wouldn't let go of the letter. She took it into the tub with her and squeezed it up into a wet ball, and only let me leave it in the soap-dish when she saw that it was coming to pieces like snow.
But she didn't say another word. We gave her spirits of ammonia and put ice on her forehead and hooked her back into her dress, and half an hour later, when we walked out of the room, the pearls were around her neck and the incident was over. Next day at five o'clock she married Tom Buchanan without so much as a shiver, and started off on a three months' trip to the South Seas.
(4) Well, about six weeks ago, she heard the name Gatsby for the first time in years. It was when I asked you — do you remember? — if you knew Gatsby in West Egg. After you had gone home she came into my room and woke me up, and said: "What Gatsby?" and when I described him — I was half asleep — she said in the strangest voice that it must be the man she used to know. It wasn't until then that I connected this Gatsby with the officer in her white car.


2. KumKum
(page 68) Daisy came out of the house and two rows of brass buttons on her dress gleamed in the sunlight.
"That huge place there?" she cried pointing.
"Do you like it?"
"I love it, but I don't see how you live there all alone."
"I keep it always full of interesting people, night and day. People who do interesting things. Celebrated people."
Instead of taking the short cut along the Sound we went down to the road and entered by the big postern. With enchanting murmurs Daisy admired this aspect or that of the feudal silhouette against the sky, admired the gardens, the" sparkling odor of jonquils and the frothy odor of hawthorn and plum blossoms and the pale gold odor of kiss-me-at-the-gate. It was strange to reach the marble steps and find no stir of bright dresses in and out of the door, and hear no sound but bird voices in the trees.
And inside, as we wandered through Marie Antoinette music-rooms and Restoration salons, I felt that there were guests concealed behind every couch and table, under orders to be breathlessly silent until we had passed through.

And inside, as we wandered through Marie Antoinette music rooms and Restoration salons, I felt that there were guests concealed behind every couch and table, under orders to be breathlessly silent until we had passed through.

(page 69) We went up-stairs, through period bedrooms swathed in rose and lavender silk and vivid with new flowers, through dressing-rooms and poolrooms, and bathrooms, with sunken baths — intruding into one chamber where a disheveled man in pajamas was doing liver exercises on the floor. It was Mr. Klipspringer, the "boarder." I had seen him wandering hungrily about the beach that morning. Finally we came to Gatsby's own apartment, a bedroom and a bath, and an Adam study, where we sat down and drank a glass of some Chartreuse he took from a cupboard in the wall.

He hadn't once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real. Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs.
His bedroom was the simplest room of all — except where the dresser was garnished with a toilet set of pure dull gold. Daisy took the brush with delight, and smoothed her hair, whereupon Gatsby sat down and shaded his eyes and began to laugh.
"It's the funniest thing, old sport," he said hilariously. "I can't—when I try to"
He had passed visibly through two states and was entering upon a third. After his embarrassment and his unreasoning joy he was consumed with wonder at her presence. He had been full of the idea so long, dreamed it right through to the end, waited with his teeth set, so to speak, at an inconceivable pitch of intensity. Now, in the reaction, he was running down like an overwound clock.
Recovering himself in a minute he opened for us two hulking patent cabinets which held his massed suits and dressing-gowns and ties, and his shirts, piled like bricks in stacks a dozen high.
"I've got a man in England who buys me clothes. He sends over a selection of things at the beginning of each season, spring and fall."
He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher — shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, with monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.
"They're such beautiful shirts," she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. "It makes me sad because I've never seen such — such beautiful shirts before."


3. Ankush
(1) She was the first "nice" girl he had ever known. In various unrevealed capacities he had come in contact with such people, but always with indiscernible barbed wire between. He found her excitingly desirable. He went to her house, at first with other officers from Camp Taylor, then alone. It amazed him — he had never been in such a beautiful house before. But what gave it an air of breathless intensity was that Daisy lived there — it was as casual a thing to her as his tent out at camp was to him. There was a ripe mystery about it, a hint of bedrooms up-stairs more beautiful and cool than other bedrooms, of gay and radiant activities taking place through its corridors, and of romances that were not musty and laid away already in lavender, but fresh and breathing and redolent of this year's shi­ning motor-cars and of dances whose flowers were scarcely withered. It excited him, too, that many men had already loved Daisy—it increased her value in his eyes. He felt their presence all about the house, pervading the air with the shades and echoes of still vibrant emotions.
But he knew that he was in Daisy's house by a colossal accident. However glorious might be his future as Jay Gatsby, he was at present a penniless young man without a past, and at any moment the invisible cloak of his uniform might slip from his shoulders. So he made the most of his time. He took what he could get, ravenously and unscrupulously— eventually he took Daisy one still October night, took her because he had no real right to touch her hand.
(2) When they met again, two days later, it was Gats­by who was breathless, who was, somehow, betrayed. Her porch was bright with the bought luxury of star-shine; the wicker of the settee squeaked fashion­ably as she turned toward him and he kissed her curious and lovely mouth. She had caught a cold, and it made her voice huskier and more charming than ever, and Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes, and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor.
(3) He did extraordinarily well in the war. He was a captain before he went to the front, and following the Argonne battles he got his majority and the command of the divisional machine-guns. After the Armistice he tried frantically to get home, but some complication or misunderstanding sent him to Oxford instead. He was worried now — there was a quality of nervous despair in Daisy's letters. She didn't see why he couldn't come. She was feeling the pressure of the world outside, and she wanted to see him and feel his presence beside her and be reassured that she was doing the right thing after all.
For Daisy was young and her artificial world was redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery and orchestras which set the rhythm of the year, summing up the sadness and suggestiveness of life in new tunes. All night the saxophones wailed the hopeless comment of the Beale Street Blues while a hundred pairs of golden and silver slippers shuffled the shining dust. At the gray tea hour there were always rooms that throbbed incessantly with this low, sweet fever, while fresh faces drifted here and there like rose petals blown by the sad horns around the floor.
Through this twilight universe Daisy began to move again with the season; suddenly she was again keeping half a dozen dates a day with half a dozen men, and drowsing asleep at dawn with the beads and chiffon of an evening dress tangled among dying orchids on the floor beside her bed. And all the time something within her was crying for a decision. She wanted her life shaped now, im­mediately — and the decision must be made by some force — of love, of money, of unquestionable practi­cality — that was close at hand.
That force took shape in the middle of spring with the arrival of Tom Buchanan. There was a whole­some bulkiness about his person and his position, and Daisy was flattered. Doubtless there was a cer­tain struggle and a certain relief. The letter reached Gatsby while he was still at Oxford.


4. Mathew
I was still with Jordan Baker. We were sitting at a table with a man of about my age and a rowdy little girl, who gave way upon the slightest provo­cation to uncontrollable laughter. I was enjoying myself now. I had taken two finger-bowls of cham­pagne, and the scene had changed before my eyes into something significant, elemental, and profound.
At a lull in the entertainment the man looked at me and smiled.
"Your face is familiar," he said, politely. "Weren't you in the Third Division during the war?"
"Why, yes. I was in the ninth machine-gun batta­lion."
"I was in the Seventh Infantry until June nineteen-eighteen. I knew I'd seen you somewhere be­fore."
We talked for a moment about some wet, gray little villages in France. Evidently he lived in this vicinity, for he told me that he had just bought a hydroplane, and was going to try it out in the morn­ing.
"Want to go with me, old sport? Just near the shore along the Sound."
"What time?"
"Any time that suits you best."
It was on the tip of my tongue to ask his name when Jordan looked around and smiled.
"Having a gay time now?" she inquired.
"Much better." I turned again to my new ac­quaintance. "This is an unusual party for me. I haven't even seen the host. I live over there—" I waved my hand at the invisible hedge in the distance, "and this man Gatsby sent over his chauffeur with an invitation."
For a moment he looked at me as if he failed to understand.
"I'm Gatsby," he said suddenly.
"What!” I exclaimed. "Oh, I beg your pardon."
"I thought you knew, old sport. I'm afraid I'm not a very good host."
He smiled understandingly — much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced —or seemed to face—the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, be­lieved in you as you would like to believe in your­self, and assured you that it had precisely the im­pression of you that, at your best, you hoped to con­vey. Precisely at that point it vanished — and I was looking at an elegant young roughneck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd. Some time before he in­troduced himself I'd got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care.


5. Priya
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
He didn't say any more, but we've always been un­usually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence, I'm inclined to reserve all judg­ments, a habit that has opened up many curious na­tures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it ap­pears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret grief’s of wild, un­known men. Most of the confidences were unsought— frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious sup­pressions. Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth.
And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes, but after a certain point I don't care what it's found­ed on. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reac­tion — Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an un­broken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him; some heightened sen­sitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earth­quakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament"— it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No — Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.


6. Talitha
He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: "I never loved you." After she had obliterated four years with that sentence they could decide upon the more practical measures to be taken. One of them was that, after she was free, they were to go back to Louisville and be married from her house — just as if it were five years ago.
"And she doesn't understand," he said. "She used to be able to understand. We'd sit for hours —"
He broke off and began to walk up and down a desolate path of fruit rinds and discarded favors and crushed flowers.
"I wouldn't ask too much of her," I ventured. "You can't repeat the past."
"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
"I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before," he said, nodding determinedly. "She'll see."
He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was. ...
... 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 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.


7. Kavita
One afternoon late in October I saw Tom Buchanan. He was walking ahead of me along Fifth Ave­nue in his alert, aggressive way, his hands out a little from his body as if to fight off interference, his head moving sharply here and there, adapting itself to his restless eyes. Just as I slowed up to avoid overtaking him he stopped and began frown­ing into the windows of a jewelry store. Suddenly he saw me and walked back, holding out his hand.
"What's the matter, Nick? Do you object to shaking hands with me?"
"Yes. You know what I think of you."
"You're crazy, Nick," he said quickly. "Crazy as hell. I don't know what's the matter with you."
"Tom," I inquired, "what did you say to Wilson that afternoon?"
He stared at me without a word, and I knew I had guessed right about those missing hours. I started to turn away, but he took a step after me and grabbed my arm.
"I told him the truth," he said. "He came to the door while we were getting ready to leave, and when I sent down word that we weren't in he tried to force his way up-stairs. He was crazy enough to kill me if I hadn't told him who owned the car. His hand was on a revolver in his pocket every minute he was in the house —" He broke off defiantly. "What if I did tell him? That fellow had it coming to him. He threw dust into your eyes just like he did in Daisy's, but he was a tough one. He ran over Myrtle like you'd run over a dog and never even stopped his car."
There was nothing I could say, except the one unutterable fact that it wasn't true.
"And if you think I didn't have my share of suffer­ing — look here, when I went to give up that flat and saw that damn box of dog-biscuits sitting there on the sideboard, I sat down and cried like a baby. By God it was awful —"
I couldn't forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were care­less peoples, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. . . .
I shook hands with him; it seemed silly not to, for I felt suddenly as though I were talking to a child. Then he went into the jewelry store to buy a pearl necklace — or perhaps only a pair of cuff buttons — rid of my provincial squeamishness for­ever.


8. Pamela
I hadn't gone twenty yards when I heard my name and Gatsby stepped from between two bushes into the path. I must have felt pretty weird by that time, because I could think of nothing except the luminosity of his pink suit under the moon.
"What are you doing?" I inquired.
"Just standing here, old sport."
Somehow, that seemed a despicable occupation. For all I knew he was going to rob the house in a moment; I wouldn't have been surprised to see sini­ster faces, the faces of "Wolfsheim's people," behind him in the dark shrubbery.
"Did you see any trouble on the road?" he asked after a minute.
"Yes."
He hesitated.
"Was she killed?"
"Yes."
"I thought so; I told Daisy I thought so. It's bet­ter that the shock should all come at once. She stood it pretty well."
He spoke as if Daisy's reaction was the only thing that mattered.
"I got to West Egg by a side road," he went on, "and left the car in my garage. I don't think anybo­dy saw us, but of course I can't be sure."
I disliked him so much by this time that I didn't find it necessary to tell him he was wrong.
"Who was the woman?" he inquired.
"Her name was Wilson. Her husband owns the garage. How the devil did it happen?"
"Well, I tried to swing the wheel —" He broke off, and suddenly I guessed at the truth.
"Was Daisy driving?"
"Yes," he said after a moment, "but of course I'll say I was. You see, when we left New York she was very nervous and she thought it would steady her to drive — and this woman rushed out at us just as we were passing a car coming the other way. It all happened in a minute, but it seemed to me that she wanted to speak to us, thought we were somebody she knew. Well, first Daisy turned away from the woman toward the other car, and then she lost her nerve and turned back. The second my hand reached the wheel I felt the shock—it must have killed her instantly."

9. Joe
Joe didn't read a passage as all the three he selected wer read by others.

10. Vijay Govind
The first part of this was obviously untrue, for some one had begun to whistle "The Rosary," tune­lessly, inside.
"Please say that Mr. Carraway wants to see him."
"I can't get him back from Chicago, can I?"
At this moment a voice, unmistakably Wolfsheim's, called "Stella!" from the other side of the door.
"Leave your name on the desk," she said quickly. "I'll give it to him when he gets back."
"But I know he's there."
She took a step toward me and began to slide her hands indignantly up and down her hips.
"You young men think you can force your way in here any time," she scolded. "We're getting sickantired of it. When I say he's in Chicago, he's in Chicago."
I mentioned Gatsby.
"Oh-h!" She looked at me over again. "Will you just — What was your name?"
She vanished. In a moment Meyer Wolfsheim stood solemnly in the doorway, holding out both hands, He drew me into his office, remarking in a reverent voice that it was a sad time for all of us, and of­fered me a cigar.
"My memory goes back to when first I met him," he said. "A young major just out of the army and covered over with medals he got in the war. He was so hard up he had to keep on wearing his uniform because he couldn't buy some regular clothes. First time I saw him was when he come into Winebrenner's poolroom at Forty-third Street and asked for a job. He hadn't eat anything for a couple of days. 'Come on have some lunch with me,' I said. He ate more than four dollars' worth of food in half an hour."
"Did you start him in business?" I inquired.
"Start him! I made him."
"Oh."
"I raised him up out of nothing, right out of the gutter. I saw right away he was a fine-appearing, gentlemanly young man, and when he told me he was an Oggsford I knew I could use him good. I got him to join up in the American Legion and he used to stand high there. Right off he did some work for a client of mine up to Albany. We were so thick like that in everything"— he held up two bulbous fingers —"always together."
I wondered if .this partnership had included the World's Series transaction in 1919.
"Now he's dead," I said after a moment. "You were his closest friend, so I know you'll want to come to his funeral this afternoon."
"I'd like to come."
"Well, come then."
The hair in his nostrils quivered slightly, and as he shook his head his eyes filled with tears.
"I can't do it — I can't get mixed up in it," he said,
"There's nothing to get mixed up in. It's all over now."
"When a man gets killed I never like to get mixed up in it any way. I keep out. When I was a young man it was different — if a friend of mine died, no matter how, I stuck with them to the end. You may think that's sentimental, but I mean it— to the bitter end."
I saw that for some reason of his own he was determined not to come, so I stood up.
"Are you a college man?" he inquired suddenly.
For a moment I thought he was going to suggest a "gonnegtion," but he only nodded and shook my hand.
"Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead," he suggested. "After that, my own rule is to let everything alone."

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