Life Lesson

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This week’s question:

Have you ever used a book to instruct someone of something or is there anyone for whom you would like to do that? (I don’t mean a text book for a class, but a work of fiction or non-fiction that would get a certain message across either through plot or character). What is the book and what do you wish to impart?

To me The Great Gatsby is more than an American classic. The text is so rich that it’s moral meaning is unlimited, constantly renewing. The novel is a tragic love story that takes place in a society of which the values have gone awry. Gatsby is a man of desperate love who has been blinded by rotten values. He doesn’t know that while pursuing his dream, it’s already behind him and that Daisy will always be like that green light at the end of the dock in an unreachable distance. In breath-taking lyricism, with sensitive insight and keen psychological observation, Fitzgerald discloses in these people a meanness of spirit, carelessness and absence of loyalties. He doesn’t judge them, nor hates them, for they are dumb in their insensate selfishness, and only to be pitied.

I always recommend this novel to friends who have yet had a chance to read. This is one book that needs to be read and re-read in one’s lifetime because of the unlimited possibilities and meaning. Compared to the roaring twenties and Fitzgerald’s time, we’re so much more privileged and connected through the advent of technology and amenities. Yet I also feel our values have gone bankrupt. I’m not even talking about the lack of integrity and transparency in how this country is run, how Wall Street have perpetrated fraud, but down to the minute details of everyday life I see selfishness, the bloated sense of self-entitlement. It’s all ego, ego, ego. Tom and Daisy Buchanans everywhere. We might be more endowed and well off in terms of living standards but in the moral department we can be impoverished.

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8 Responses

  1. I’ve read Gatsby thrice, and each time I discovered something in it for the first time. Fitzgerald’s non judgemental writing only adds to the sense of tragedy and sadness I feel.
    I think I would like to recommend The Grapes of Wrath to a lot of people. People tend to take the ordinary joys in life so much for granted…

    Please visit my book blog at https://riversihaveknown.wordpress.com/

    • I never came to fully appreciate it when I first read in 11th grade. I just got the idea of how some rich people could freely do what they want without being considerate to others. But the book became an all-time favorite when I reread in college. Now I resonate with Gatsby even more profusely as I reflect upon how the privileged live. Moral bankruptcy, selfishness, decadence—these vices never change despite advent of technology and financial position.

      • That reminds me of something our Literature instructor told us some weeks ago – human nature has been pretty much the same since people existed!

  2. I have watched the movie a couple of times and I love it. For some reason, I never managed to finish the book. I’ll try again this summer and after I’m done, I’ll watch the movie again to see if I can look at things differently.

    If you were to choose one of the characters as your favourite, who would it be?

    • Interesting you mention the film because I have yet to see it. I’m planning to re-read the novel again before watching the movie. I’ve always liked Jay for his stubbornness in affection.

  3. i’ve never read the great gatsby, but i’ve never seen a better recommendation for it than this post. wonderful.

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