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How I see Dr. T.J. Eckleburg
According to the back cover of the book it's an "exemplary novel of the Jazz Age," but I didn't get that then or now. I
Really it was never a period I garnered much interest in. The Victorian era or the 1930s are much more my caliber, which might say lil' something about me...ha!
So, all that stuff I learned in school aside or perhaps all that stuff I learned in school included, I came to appreciate the bittersweet nostalgia in Gatsby's unfortunate plight for the girl that got away; I felt sorry for and annoyed at Daisy, but her self-awareness and the societal constraints that bound her allowed me to understand the complexity of her character; and Nick's choice to move back to his small town roots after uncovering the rot and disgusting immorality of the upper class made me like him a great deal more than I did the first time I read the novel.
Nick Carraway. I like him. He's endearing and curious. His excursion through the East was so telling and heartbreaking. He's a fascinating narrator who goes out into the world with fresh eyes and a reserved judgement only to find a world so distasteful he leaves it for good without remorse. Oh yes, I like him. He's so familiar. An inexperienced youth going out there to exuberantly soak up all he can, but ends up partying and partying pretty hard. He is at first transfixed by all the glitz and excess, but soon realizes this lifestyle is too much air and no substance. Less is more. And so he packs up to head back to a more morally adept state. But even then, he knows the world has changed. Funny, I didn't notice him before; especially since he's the one sharing.
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I don't remember discussing the American Dream in regards to this novel (which I'm sure we did, but I must have tuned it out), but I get it now because even today there are constant re-boots of the American Dream that inevitably never turns out the way we envisioned it to. But that's the thing about dreams; they're ephemeral, hallucinatory, and often times out of reach. I believe this novel is a solid reminder of that and not to be a "Debbie-downer" about it, but that sometimes happiness, love, and beauty isn't some grand spectacle across the bay, but rather sitting comfortably right next to you. It's no wonder this work has endured for so long - I mean, gosh, what college graduate couldn't relate?!