Generalizations

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We like to make generalizations. Generalizations based on race, gender, age, country, state, region, school, time period, etc. However, these generalizations aren’t always true for everyone.

On page 130 of The Great Gatsby Tom, in a moment of anger, says “I know I’m not very popular. I don’t give big parties. I suppose you’ve got to make your house into a pigsty in order to have any friends – in the modern world.” This quote stood out to me because it made me wonder, “What is the modern world?”

See the trouble is that the “modern world” looks very different for everyone so how can we possibly determine how to describe the “modern world”?

It reminds me of the Ted Talk “The Myth of Average” that talks about how we can’t design for an average person, because there is no average person. Everyone is different with a different situation.

The 1920s is often imagined as a time of glamor with lots of parties, but not everyone has the luxury of high society life. Part of the whole purpose of the book is to make you think differently about society back in the 20s. On the one hand there were great extravagant parties, but the people at the parties in The Great Gatsby often had hidden backstories full of greed and cynicism that allowed them to gain money to throw the parties.We even learn that Gatsby himself had a hidden motive as to why he threw his parties: in hopes that Daisy would show up to one and be impressed with him. 

All of the glam was like a guise to cover up the hidden motives of all of the individual attendants at the parties. The glam is like a generalization that we try to place on an entire time period, but when you talk to individual people at a party, you learn that every person has their own unique story.

 

The Mysterious Men

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(PS. There are a few spoilers in this post about The Great Gatsby and .)

While reading The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I’ve been constantly changing my mind about liking or disliking various characters. I think that’s part of the goal of the book though; Fitzgerald wants you to see these people as real people who have their good and bad moments.

The hard part of making opinions on these characters is that I can’t personally relate to most of them, and I know this book only captures some crumbs of their life story.

The character I found most interesting was Mr. Gatsby himself. I think I found him interesting for the exact reason that Fitzgerald wants you to find him interesting: he’s full of mystery. His life story practically changes every time it gets talked about.

When first meeting Gatsby, Nick doesn’t even realize that he is talking to Gatsby. Then when Gatsby walks off Nick tries to ask Jordan about who he is, but Jordan’s response is simply, “He’s just a mad named Gatsby,” because she doesn’t believe the story she was told (Fitzgerald 48). No one knows the true story of Gatsby. It isn’t until chapter 6 that Nick finally discusses the true story of Gatsby, who’s real name is actually James Gatz, and he doesn’t even actually learn that story until close to the end of Gatsby’s life. (Not going to lie, but I didn’t fully understand that they were the same person until a good few pages later.)

What I realized is that the mysterious character of Gatsby it common in many books. Most notably it reminded me of Boo Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Both characters are very closed off with a  constantly debated and gossiped past. In fact many people suspect them of murder or some other horrible crime.

However, these mysterious characters somehow always manage to be a huge part of the main character’s lives by the end of the story. Gatsby dies and Nick seems to be his only friend to plan the funeral, and Boo saves Scott’s life. We learn that the characters that once seemed dangerous and unknown are, in reality, just complex people that you have to get to know well in order to understand them.

I think humans have a certain fondness towards mystery and particularly towards mysterious people. It’s our natural instinct to be curious that makes us enjoy the mysteries of life.

Starting a Story

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I had completely forgotten that I would not have Wifi for the week of Christmas while I was up at my family’s cottage in Pennsylvania. Therefore, I was sadly not able to blog, but I was writing down ideas through out the week so now it’s time to catch up!

It was weird not having wifi because so much of what I would typically work on, when I finally have time, requires the internet: blogging, twitter, reading articles, researching things, etc. However, it was kind of nice to not have the internet because it forced me to just relax with family since there was no way for me to do that kind of stuff. Plus I got to spend a while reading, which I haven’t really gotten to do in a while!

I love the feeling of finishing a book, especially when you have another already waiting to be read. With it finally being winter break I’ve actually been able to read just for fun for the first time in forever!!!

Back in the summer, which feels like so long ago now, I had started a rather easy book called “Kingdom Keepers” which is about Disney World after hours and these 5 kids that have to battle evil Disney villains. I started the book because it looked interesting since I love Disney so much, and over the summer I had been reading a lot of “thinky” books as I call them because they were those kinds of books that you can only read for so long before needing to stop and digest, so I wanted to read something fun and easy that didn’t make me think so much.

However, I started the book so late into summer that I didn’t get a chance to finish before school started, and then I didn’t have time to read my fun easy book. But once winter break started, I decided I would read nothing else until first finishing that book.

 And I did.

 In 1 day.

(I did say it was an easy book… Those last 150 pages I had left felt like nothing.)

After finishing that book (which is actually the first in a series, so I really want to start the next one…), I decided to start The Great Gatsby since I need to read that before school starts again. Reading this book is actually the only “assignment” I have for the winter break. The funny part is that I self assigned it along with Kat for our AP Lang course. We both wanted to read the book because everyone is always talking about it being a great book, so naturally we got curious as to what the big fuss it. Plus many English teachers often end up assigning it, so we thought it was a book that we definitely needed to read.

When I started reading the book I actually thought the main narrator was a girl. I don’t know what lead me to this belief, but it wasn’t until about 3 pages in that I finally went, “Wait a minute. This guy is a guy. This changes everything!”

My instinctual conclusion made me wonder if we naturally assume a narrator is like ourselves; therefore, in my case that would make this narrator a girl at first. I mean the role of the narrator is to help move the story forward and converse with the audience. They are the one character that always is breaking the 4th wall and typically they can be played by any type of person. This is because who the narrator is, is often less important than what the narrator is saying. So it makes sense that we would naturally want to relate with the narrator as much as possible.

However this isn’t always the case. Some stories have the narrator being a person who is actually in the story, making every narration like a mini soliloquy where the character tells you about how they were feeling on the inside, during or after a particular situation occurs.

The type of narration can really change a story because it changes the perspective in which you hear a story from. When you change the perspective you get an entirely different story. That’s why stories like Malificent and Wicked are so popular, because they tell you an old story from a new perspective, which changes the story in ways that make you question what is the “truth”.

The beginnings of stories fascinate me because in those first pages you can discover what type of book you are about to read based on the perspective it is told from. In The Great Gatsby, the narrator is also the main character, Nick. Right from the beginning you are able to tell that this story will be a reflective piece about a time in Nick’s life where exciting and life changing events took place.

However, not everything about the beginnings of a story is so great. In fact, they are often long and sometimes drag on without much excitement for a while because the backstory has to be set before the story can really get interesting.

The Great Gatsby has been one of those books that hasn’t gotten too terribly interesting yet. I haven’t reached that point where I can’t put it down until I finish it quit yet. So I am still on the hunt to figure out “What’s the big deal about The Great Gatsby; why has it become such a staple in high school literature?”