The Great Gatsby, Chapters 1-2
The first chapter of our summer reading selection transports us back to the pre-depression 1920’s – a time of decadence and elitism. Our narrator, Nick Carraway, seems caught between two worlds – that of the “old money” aristocracy and the nouveau riche. Nick seems the perfect voice for this story, as he seems to have no real place of his own, leaving him able to maneuver between the two cultures with ease.
We are first introduced to Nick’s cousin Daisy and her friend Jordan. The women are presented in all white, an indication of purity and compassion. We learn quickly, however, that the reality of these characters is in stark contrast with the vision they present to the world. In contrast, the character of Tom Buchanan is unable to hide the vileness of his character. Tom is a large, brooding man who violently forces his unenlightened views on the world. Although we are introduced to Gatsby only briefly at this stage of the book, we immediately sense that despite his wealth his personality and world views are in stark contrast with those of his neighbors across the bay.
Many of us are revisiting this novel, having read it at an earlier time in our lives. As you make your way through this first chapter, do you find yourself viewing the characters differently than you did the first time you read the book? What symbolism do you see portrayed in relation to the characters and the society of the time?
-Director of Guest Experience Programming
Glen Ivy Hot Springs