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Thread: I need serious help with a "Gatsby" assignment.

  1. #1
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    Cool I need serious help with a "Gatsby" assignment.

    I am 18 years old and doing a correspondence grade 12 university english course. I have to answer a question based on "The Great Gatsby" but I am very confused how to do so and my school is on christmas break so I can't ask my teacher for help. The Question word for word says: "Select on of the places discussed previously (East Egg, West Egg, or New York) and show how Nick is affected by it. Find all the occasions in the novel where Nick is in the place. Look for changes in him, and explain how those changes are related to the nature of the place. This is an exercise in close reading and close reasoning, and to do a decent job you will need to quote extensively. Aim for 300-500 words." I have found all the instances where Nick is in New York and I have many, many quotes from those sections that I think may be useful but I don't really see changes in Nick, nor do I really understand the nature of New York. If someone can please help me with this question I would greatly appreciate. Thank you for your time.

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    Registered User Travis_R's Avatar
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    This should be good to start:

    "East Egg represents the old aristocracy, West Egg the newly rich, the valley of ashes the moral and social decay of America, and New York City the uninhibited, amoral quest for money and pleasure. Additionally, the East is connected to the moral decay and social cynicism of New York, while the West (including Midwestern and northern areas such as Minnesota) is connected to more traditional social values and ideals. Nick’s analysis in Chapter 9 of the story he has related reveals his sensitivity to this dichotomy: though it is set in the East, the story is really one of the West, as it tells how people originally from west of the Appalachians (as all of the main characters are) react to the pace and style of life on the East Coast."

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    just wondering if u think it would be fair to say that the reason Nick gets drunk at Tom and Myrtle's gathering at their apartment, and the reason he kisses Jordan for lack of having a dream girl, is because he is in an amoral quest for pleasure? possibly this is why he has an affair with a girl he works with also? thank you

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    here is my final copy (so far) was wondering if someone could give me their thoughts on what I wrote, maybe edit it if you feel up to it. And I am no little boy, I can take criticism so please don`t hold back
    Thank You.

    btw i copied and pasted from word so there may be weird gaps between words, just ignore them.

    Nick tells the reader how he feels about New York when he says “Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge,” I thought; “anything at all. . . . Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder” (69). Clearly Nick sees New York as a place of infinite possibilities; a place where nothing will surprise him because anything is possible in New York. Nick is not disappointed either, once in New York he and Gatsby go to lunch with a man named Meyer Wolfshiem. At the time Nick doesn’t know who Wolfshiem is but after he leaves Gatsby tells Nick that it was Wolfshiem who had fixed the world series in 1919. Nick’s mental process as he digests this new information is as follows:

    The idea staggered me. I remembered, of course, that the World’s Series had been fixed in 1919, but if I had thought of it at all I would have thought of it as a thing that merely happened, the end of some inevitable chain. It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people—with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe (74).

    This is one of the experiences that makes Nick believe that New York is a place where anything can happen. Hearing this new information deepened Nick’s belief that anything is possible, and he now associates this with New York because they are in New York and Wolfshiem is a “New Yorker”

    Nick makes a clear statement that illustrates how he sees New York when he is talking about the Queensboro Bridge: “The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world” (69). Nick acts differently when in New York because he sees it as such a mysterious, magical place, “I have been drunk just twice in my life, and the second time was that afternoon” (29). The fact that Nick decides to get drunk in New York when he has only been drunk one other time in his life clearly illustrates that he is willing to do things in New York that he would not otherwise do because he sees New York as a place where anything can happen. This perspective on New York causes him to be more willing to do things he would not normally do. Nick really enjoys New York because he finds it to be so exciting and fast-paced, “I began to like New York, the racy, adventurous feel of it at night, and the satisfaction that the constant flicker of men and women and machines gives to the restless eye” (57). This exciting environment coupled with the feeling that “anything can happen” leads Nick’s imagination to run wild.

    “I liked to walk up Fifth Avenue and pick out romantic women from the crowd and imagine that in a few minutes I was going to enter into their lives, and no one would ever know or disapprove. Sometimes, in my mind, I followed them to their apartments on the corners of hidden streets, and they turned and smiled back at me before they faded through a door into warm darkness” (57).

    New York allows Nick’s romanticism to surface.

    There are, however, two sides to New York and they both affect Nick in different ways. New York “can be sinister and dangerous” as well. New York is the scene of two gatherings that result in fights. The first being Tom and Myrtle’s Gathering where Nick is unable to escape, not for lack of trying though.

    “Hold on,” I said, “I have to leave you here.”
    “No, you don’t,” interposed Tom quickly.
    “Myrtle’ll be hurt if you don’t come up to the apartment. Won’t you, Myrtle?”
    “Come on,” she urged. “I’ll telephone my sister Catherine. She’s said to be very
    beautiful by people who ought to know.”
    “Well, I’d like to, but——” (28).

    Nick succumbs to Tom and Myrtle’s wishes for the time being. Nick does not give up however, “I wanted to get out and walk eastward toward the park throught the soft twilight, but each time I tried to go I became entangled in some wild, strident argument which pulled me back, as if with ropes, into my chair” (36). Not only is Nick not allowed to leave to do what he wants, the party itself is horrible. The apartment is small and cramped: “The apartment was on the top floor – a small living-room, a small dining-room, a small bedroom, and a bath. The living-room was crowded to the doors with a set of tapestried furniture entirely too large for it, so that to move about was to stumble continually over scenes of ladies swinging in the gardens of Versailles (29).
    Furthermore, all the people who attend this party are described unpleasantly by Nick. Tom brings the party to an end with his unique reaction to Myrtle screaming Daisy’s name over and over to prove she has a right to say it: “Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand” (37). Clearly anything can happen in New York but that is not always a good thing.

    The second gathering is at the Plaza in New York, Daisy, Jordan, Nick, Tom and Gatsby are present and there is a confrontation over Daisy between Tom and Gatsby. Once again Nick, along with Jordan, is unable to leave: “Jordan and I tried to go, but Tom and Gatsby insisted with competitive firmness that we remain” (131). It seems Nick is right, one never knows what is going to happen to them once they cross the bridge into New York. This simple fact can lead to pleasant experiences, such as when Nick is “Pick[ing] out romantic women” (57), or it can lead to very unpleasant experiences, such as it is at both of the previously mentioned gatherings. Either way Nick appears to be open to try more things in New York than he would anywhere else.

  5. #5
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    Overall not bad... Is this a highschool assignment??? Sorry, gradelevel does make a difference in the level of feedback. Also, was their a particular subject, beyond being about The Great Gatsby that is???

    My biggest suggestion is to add in a little more of your own voice into the essay. I felt a bit like I was reading primarily quotes from the book, and while they are great support, I personally like a little more commentary from the writer. I tend to think that too much support and not enough explanation leaves a little too much room for interpretation...

    ~Meg

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    Yes this is a grade 12 university english assignment, and I put a lot of quotes because in the question itself it says to do a good job I would need to quote extensively. The exact phrasing of the question is as follows

    "Select one of the places discussed previously (East Egg, West Egg, or New York) and show how Nick is affected by it. Find all the occasions in the novel where Nick is in the place. Look for changes in him, and explain how those changes are related to the nature of the place. This is an exercise in close reading and close reasoning, and to do a decent job you will need to quote extensively. Aim for 300-500 words."

    I appreciate the feedback and I welcome any other comments anyone might have
    Thank you

  7. #7
    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis_R View Post
    This should be good to start:

    "East Egg represents the old aristocracy, West Egg the newly rich, the valley of ashes the moral and social decay of America, and New York City the uninhibited, amoral quest for money and pleasure. Additionally, the East is connected to the moral decay and social cynicism of New York, while the West (including Midwestern and northern areas such as Minnesota) is connected to more traditional social values and ideals. Nick’s analysis in Chapter 9 of the story he has related reveals his sensitivity to this dichotomy: though it is set in the East, the story is really one of the West, as it tells how people originally from west of the Appalachians (as all of the main characters are) react to the pace and style of life on the East Coast."
    This is a forthright and honest representation of The Great Gatsby. The fact that Fitzgerald was able to incorporate the East/ West dichotomy to such effect in his great novel shows how the 'spirit of place' can alter our perspectives on life. However, his novel is so supercharged with emotional and intellectual sensitivity that mere readers such as I cannot do other than be thankful for its existance,

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    well thanks for replying then......
    Last edited by Gilly27; 12-25-2009 at 02:48 PM.

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