In class we discussed the many reasons we read literature and one was the common humanity we can take away from texts. In Gatsby, I found a kindred narrative within the rag to riches story of James Gatz and the creation of his persona, Jay Gatsby.
I think to some extent we all come with a persona and feel the anxiety that comes with keeping it up. When we first come to college, at some capacity we all share a deep seeded fear that we will be “found out”. Such thoughts as: “Maybe they will find out I’m not as smart as I seem.”, “Maybe everyone will find out I’m not good enough to be here.”, etc, etc.
In James Gatz’s case, I found the same. He fears he will be found out by the old-money elite. He shares his past with Nick as if it is a deep, dark secret and that is exactly why I believe he lets the general populous and party guests believe the dramatic rumors they circulate about him (like the German spy one).
So was Gatsby just a fraud? A creation of James Gatz’s dillusions of grandeur? Or do we all to some degree shape our public personas?
I’ve read Gatsby twice now and what has stuck out most to me is the change in my feelings toward Daisy after the final events of the book. When I first read the book, I went from loving Daisy at the beginning (she’s such a sweet, hopeless romantic reunited with her long lost love–swoon) to absolutely despising her at the conclusion (what a terrible person!).
The second time around I felt completely different. I now could delve deeper through the many layers that made up the character: Daisy Buchanan. She was a product of wealth, most likely taught that love was silly and idealistic. Money and security was it’s logical equivalent. She was a mother. A woman who suffered abuse at the hands of her only protector in the world, the man with the power to take away everything she had. To me, all of these life conditions are transparent in her decisions and follies. In the end, she could only protect herself by leaving, letting Gatsby take the subsequent fall and then not attending his funeral.
So, with Daisy you can really either love her or hate her. I agree not attending Gatsby’s funeral was in bad taste, however factoring in the lack of options not only Daisy but so many woman had in those times, her actions seem rational. I know now I can say I adore Daisy, as imperfect and flawed a character she is.
Still, I’m curious as to what feelings other people got from Daisy?