Great Gatsby 4


When F. Scott Fitzgerald first published The Great Gatsby, it was named
Under the Red, White, and Blue. However, after having revised the novel
many times with his many editors, publishers, and personal advisors,
Fitzgerald eventually released the book under its contemporary title.
Why did Fitzgerald make the change? Under the red white and blue
referred to the life of people in America, or under the American flag.
His novel is focused on the corruption of the American dream, and the
corruption of those residing within. The great Gatsby referred to one
of the principle characters in the novel, Jay Gatsby. Why was Gatsby so
great that the book was named after him? Jay Gatsby was portrayed by
Fitzgerald as the son of God, or of a God. Fitzgerald reminds us of
this throughout the novel, and from beginning to end he fills the text
with hints as he alludes to Gatsby^s divine spirit. The ^Great Gatsby^
was a great man- Fitzgerald tells the reader that Gatsby was so great
he could not have been a man- that he was a heavenly figure. Fitzgerald
wanted the reader to believe that the American dream had died, and to
further ingrain his belief in our minds, he destroys religion and
morality^ but the final and most dismal reality Fitzgerald faces us
with is that no man is a great man- the only great man encountered in
The Great Gatsby is the son of God- who is superior to man, and cannot
be judged by the same rules. An author uses imagery to convey specific
thoughts and emotions from his readers. Fitzgerald constantly reminds
us that Gatsby is a heavenly figure by associating Gatsby with the
moon. The moon is a heavenly body; therefore, Gatsby^s presence brings
out the heavens. The first time the narrator, Nick, meets Gatsby, it is
at one of Gatsby^s gaudy parties, and ^the moon had risen
higher.^(Fitzgerald p.51) just before Nick met Gatsby. When Nick leaves
the party, ^a wafer of a moon was shining over Gatsby^s house.^(p.60)
After Myrtle had been run over by Daisy, Nick speaks to Gatsby outside
Daisy^s house, and Nick ^could think of nothing except the luminosity
of his pink suit under the moon.^ The imagery in this location suggests
that Gatsby is innocent of the crime he is implicated in, which is the
murder of Myrtle. The moon shining down on Gatsby, making his suit
radiate, suggests that heaven looks with favor upon Gatsby. Gatsby is
linked with the heavens occurs when he describe! d having kissed Daisy
for the first time. ^^sidewalk was white with moonlight^ The quiet
lights in the houses were humming out into the darkness and there was a
stir and bustle among the stars^ Gatsby saw that the blocks of the
sidewalk 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.^(pg.117) This particular passage suggests to the reader that
Gatsby is indeed a heavenly figure, the son of God, as moonlight shines
down upon him, and he has the superhuman ability to hear the sounds of
the stars. When Nick saw Gatsby for the first time, Gatsby had been
gazing out over the water of the Sound. ^Mr. Gatsby himself, come out
to determine what share was his of our local heavens.^(pg. 25). This is
an unusual phrase, since we would expect Gatsby to determine where he
fit in the local heavens, not which share of the local heavens was his.
This shows that Gatsby is not a part of our world; rather, a
shareholder. Fitzgerald then moves to establish Gatsby as the son of
God by creating moments of Gatsby^s life which parallel that of Jesus.
The first example of this is when Nick first meets Gatsby, and Gatsby
smiles at Nick. ^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.^(pg. 52). The usage of the word eternal suggests that Gatsby
is immortal, as is the son of God, who died so that we may all be
immortal. Such a deep and compassionate smile can only come from a man
of extraordinary power. Fitzgerald continues by elevating Gatsby above
his high-class and powerful friends, who attended his parties. ^I
wondered if the fact that he was not drinking helped to set him off
from his guests, for it seemed to me that he grew more correct as the
fraternal hilarity increased.^(pg. 54). This once again illustrates
that Gatsby is a higher figure than the rest of society, as his
affluent guests fit a level below him. The Great Gatsby was set above
everyone, even the best of the best. As the novel and Gatsby^s life
progress, it follows Jesus^ life in parallel. Jesus was brought before
the government, and was questioned repeatedly as to his motives, and
whether or not he claimed to be the King of the Jews. Gatsby was
questioned by Tom on pages 134-142. Tom questioned Gatsby^s motives,
his past, and his occupation. This interrogation was not dissimilar to
that of Jesus, as Jesus remained wholly calm during his rough
interrogation- Gatsby remained unfazed and composed during his heated
interrogation. When Gatsby died, he went in a similar fashion to that
of Jesus. Not by the same method, death on the cross, but by an
extremely similar process. ^Gatsby shouldered the mattress and started
for the pool. Once he stopped and shifted it a little and the chauffeur
asked him if he needed help, but he shook his head and in a moment
disappeared among the yellowing trees.^(pg. 169). This imagery is
consistent with that of Jesus^ crucifixion. Jesus had been forced to
carry his own cross to the place of the crucifixion (on his shoulder),
and similarly Gatsby had carried his mattress (on his shoulder) to the
place of his death. People had asked Jesus if he needed assistance
carrying his cross, and Jesus refused- just as Gatsby had refused aid
from his chauffeur. The reason for Gatsby^s death was similar to
Jesus^, as well. Gatsby had been killed because George Wilson believed
that Gatsby had killed his wife, Myrtle. In reality, Myrtle had been
killed by Daisy. Therefore, Gatsby had died for Daisy^s sin. In the
same way, Jesus had died for the sins of mankind, while he himself had
committed no sin. Both Jesus and Gatsby had died for the sins of
others. Their deaths were similar, but so were their funerals.
Gatsby^s funeral had few attendees: ^The minister glanced several times
at his watch so I took him aside and asked him to wait for half an
hour. But it wasn^t any use. Nobody came.^(pg. 182). Gatsby^s best
friend, Wolfshiem, had not attended the funeral- ^Let us learn to show
our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is
dead,^(pg. 180) because Wolfshiem had wanted to keep a low profile, and
not jeopardize his own safety by appearing at the funeral. In the same
way, Jesus^ burial place was kept secret to protect it from
graverobbers, and there were few people in attendance at the funeral-
to keep the lowest possible profile. Gatsby had tried to improve his
life in the same way as Ben Franklin- with a daily schedule to stay on
track and an orderly system of life. Ironically, Franklin^s list of
moral improvements (which Gatsby followed) included number 13, ^Mimic
Jesus^ (Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin). Gatsby had mimicked Jesus,
and ended up the same way as Jesus had- dead. Gatsby^s life had not
been a waste. As Jesus had saved souls, started a major religion, and
helped lead people in a new and better life, Gatsby had changed the
narrator of the novel, Nick. ^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.^(pg. 7). Gatsby^s life, which had
much suffering, had served the purpose of helping Nick to learn more
about life and about people. Jesus had been the son of a merciful God,
sent into a spiritual society composed of extremely pious citizens. It
had been Jesus^ task to show God^s people how to better live their
lives, and to be ready for Judgement Day. Gatsby had been the son of a
meretricious God, sent into a meretricious society whose social echelon
was dominated by the upper class, who could destroy or control anything
they wanted without consequence (as demonstrated by Tom and Daisy.)
^[Gatsby] 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.^(p.104) The parallel
thus existed not only between Jesus and Gatsby, but also between a
spiritual society and a meretricious society. Gatsby left a lasting
impression on the world behind him. After his death, his presence
lingered over everyone, as did the death of Jesus. ^As the moon rose
higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I
became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch
sailor^s eyes- a fresh, green breast of the new world.^(pg. 189). This
image of Long Island, with its beach, water, and green color, expresses
hope- this is a land that can become anything- one of the core
philosophies of the American Dream. By exposing the pure American Dream
beneath the modernized Long Island, Fitzgerald suggests that the
American Dream has not only been neglected and unachieved, but that
irrevocable corruption had set in. Living under the red, white and blue
is thus meretricious, as the American Dream is now a false attraction.
Gatsby^s life after death was seen through the moonlight- the haze had
disappeared- we now see that beneath the superficial world in which we
live there is a purity to be found. Beneath the riches and material
objects there is an intangible yet concrete basis on which we build our
society. Though our society has lost its morality and lost its cause to
dream, as demonstrated in The Great Gatsby, ultimately there is a truth
which we can find- but we will always lose the truth no matter how hard
we try- since we are merely men. The Great Gatsby found his truth after
five years, and lost it^ but in effect The Great Gatsby^s moonlight
removed the falsities which concealed the universal truth we all seek.


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