The Great Pile of Great Gatsby Flashcards

What kind of relationship exists between Nick and the Buchanans? It is completely superficial. He speaks of them as dear friends he barely knows. Actually, the relationship between Gatsby and his sponging guests is hardly less meaningful, and the comparison is a striking one.
Why does Daisy always speak in such exaggerated phrases? By overdoing her remarks she manages to minimize everything she says. If she describes something as utterly wonderful instead of merely nice, she makes it seem quite ordinary. She makes everything sound important which reveals nothing is important to her.
What is the significance of Tim’s reference to the book he is reading? First, the content of the book implies a certain lack of intellect on Tom’s part. Secondly, it reveals Tom’s belief that the dominant race must stay in control, that lesser races must be beaten off, an attitude he displays toward Gatsby, whose background places him in a different world.
Why does Daisy hope her child will be a beautiful fool? To her superficial appearance is all that matters, so beauty is a necessity. Intelligence, however, might be a hazard, for Daisy lives in a world that does not hold up under inspection, and if she really thought about her life, she might find it unbearable.
Why does Nick feel that Daisy is trying to show off her cynicism? This is a current upper-class pose and by adopting it Daisy not only identifies herself as part of a fashionable group, but disposes of the need to live a meaningful life, since life has no meaning anyway.
Why does Daisy describe her youth as a “white girlhood”? On a literal level, she always dressed in white and even drove a white car. More important, she remembers her youth as a time of innocence and charming simplicity, in contrast to the tawdry existence she has in the present.
Why is Wilson covered with dust from the ashes? He is a dead character, in contrast to the tough vitality of his wife. (The ashes do not cover her). Tom says that Wilson is too stupid to know that he is alive; the others pay no more attention to him than if he actually were dead.
Why does Myrtle Wilson behave with such hauteur, both toward her husband and in the city apartment? Her arrogance satirizes the arrogance of the entire social structure. She believes herself to be “somebody” and looks down on her inferiors. Most of the people in this novel are involved in climbing the slippery ladder toward social success, grasping frantically for the rung above and kicking down at those on the rung below.
Why does Nick see himself as both on the outside and inside of the apartment? He may be in it, but he does not consider himself of it. He wants no part of these people or their cheap involvement. He is as isolated from them as he later is from Gatsby’s party
What two facets of Tom’s personality are revealed when he breaks Myrtle’s nose? First, it shows his brutality, a foreshadowing of the vicious indifference toward others with which he will send the crazed Wilson off to murder Gatsby. Secondly, the hypocrisy of class consciousness is stressed. It is all right for him to humiliate and wound his wife with his infidelity, but it is unforgivable for Myrtle to even mention Daisy’s name. Myrtle must be taught to know her place
What is revealed when Nick says that people aren’t actually invited to Gatsby’s parties, that they just sort of go there? It shows the aimless wandering of these pleasure-seeking crowds, and that all rules have been replaced by casual whims. This reference also reveals specific facet of Gatsby’s character. He is a man who simply provides for others; he can be taken advantage of. This is a foreshadowing of the way he later sacrifices himself for Daisy.
Why is Jordan Baker again described as looking contemptuous? She looks down on this party just as she had seemed contemptuous at the Buchanans. This detachment may be part of her attractiveness to Nick, who has had a knack – at the beginning – of remaining uninvolved and aloof.
What is significance of the “owl-eyed” man? He is tied in with the enormous pair of glasses in the sign. Just as the sign seems to represent an all-knowing godlike figure, so this man, checking the books in the library, seems to be the only one who understands that Gatsby has depth.
Why does the owl-eyed man describe Gatsby as a real Belasco? Belasco was a famed theatrical producer, and the man with the glasses seems to realize that Gatsby has provided not a home for himself, but a background. His only objective has been to set the stage for his reunion with Daisy.
What is the contrast between Gatsby and his party? He seems totally remote from it, as if he has merely furnished the necessities for the enjoyment of others and not himself. He is quiet, self-controlled, sober, and pleasant, while the party is drunken and rowdy.
What is the significance of Jordan’s lies? Her dishonesty is part of her basic character, just as it is part of the social structure in which she takes an active part. Her cheating at golf, part of her drive to win, is the kind of dishonesty that society can accept. Gatsby’s drive to succeed is unacceptable.
Why is the catalog of Gatsby’s guest included? The long list of these worthless people combined with the trivia that Nick recalls about them stresses the meaningless of this world. These are the shady, not quite nice people, whom Daisy later finds distasteful and for whom Tom displays contempt. There is, however, not much difference between them and the kind of people with whom Tom chooses to live his other life in the apartment in the city.
Why does Gatsby call Nick “old sport”? This is a reflection of Gatsby’s phony side, an affectation which he hopes will reinforce his claims to status and particularly his claims to attendance at Oxford. However, this specific expression is significant. Gatsby is a “sport” in the best sense of the word, as his later gallantry toward Daisy will demonstrate. By using this word as a form of address to others, he shows that he trusts the world, to treat him in a sportsmanlike manner, tragically, is not the case.
What is ironic about Gatsby’s appraisal of Jordan? He admires her honesty, which, as Nick has already noted, is one virtue she lacks. Gatsby’s inability to see through her is a reflection of his tragic inability to understand character – both others and himself
Why does Gatsby want Daisy to see his house? It is not enough that the two lovers are reunited. They must be joined in the settling which Gatsby thinks is not only necessary and appropriate for her, but almost in itself a part of her. Daisy and the dream of material success are inseparable.
Why is Gatsby dressed in a gold tie and silver shirt? He has costumed himself, perhaps unconsciously, in the trappings of wealth. His outer self, like his house, must reflect his material success. His inner self, which Nick finds later to be superior to the characters of the others, is ignored.
Why does Nick reject Gatsby’s offer of business? Nick can’t be bought – except by the admiration and respect that Gatsby later inspires in him. This show of integrity on Nick’s part makes him a person that the reader can trust to judge Gatsby fairly at the end of the book.
What is significant about Nick’s embarrassment during the tea, and the fact that he leaves and walks around the house? Gatsby had done the same thing earlier. This repetition indicates that Nick is beginning to identify with Gatsby, to share his emotions and attitudes.
What hint is given in the story of how Gatsby’s house was built? It was constructed by a successful brewer who wanted to make his mark in the social world. He failed to do so and later died. This background is parallel to Gatsby, who makes his fortune from bootlegging, buys the house as an entry into society, and will meet his own death there.
What is ironic about the cottage owners’ refusal to put thatched roofs on their homes The brewer had offered them money as an inducement to put thatched roofs on their cottages, so that he might look out upon the re-created vista of a feudal estate. However, the local people refused to put themselves in the position of peasants. In America everybody has his dream of status, of being somebody. Their desire is no different from the brewer or Gatsby’s.
What is significant about Klipspringer’s song? Again, the perfect background for Daisy must be established. Gatsby calls forth a musician, like a medieval king displaying the splendors of his court. The song itself has tremendous irony. Its theme is that money is not necessary for happiness, which may sound fine but has not relation to the actions of the people in the music room. Klipspringer himself abandons Gatsby as soon as he can no longer sponge off an agreeable host, Daisy had deserted Gatsby during the war for a wealthier man, and Gatsby himself has been trapped by the belief that material possessions are absolute requirements to happiness.
What is ironic about Dan Cody? He is the prototype of the American individualist, a rugged self-made man, the type who starts from nothing and through hard work and luck “makes it” on his own. Gatsby is a parody of this type of self-made man and he learns something that the books and legends omit – that the upper classes will never recognize such achievement, and that he will be forever an outsider
What parallel is suggested by the fact that Gatsby never gets the inheritance bequeathed to him by Cody? He never gets the other inheritance he’s “entitled to” either – The American dream that promises love and glamour and happiness as an inseparable adjunct to material success.
Compare the attitudes of Gatsby and the visiting trio which includes Tom Buchanan The guests are very obviously “slumming” and seem to feel that any rudeness on their part is only Gatsby’s due. Apparently, Gatsby accepts this and is noticeably eager to “get them” something, or provide them with food or drink. At this point Gatsby can only establish himself as a person of consequence by furnishing tangible evidence of his material possessions.
What is the irony of Tom’s remark that women run around too much and meet the wrong kind of people? He is referring to Daisy and the upstart of Gatsby. However, his relationship with Myrtle Wilson underlines the hypocrisy of this comment and shows that he has a double standard, not only for the behavior of men and women, but also for the behavior of the upper and lower classes.
Why does Daisy say she’s giving out “green” cards? She is involved romantically with Gatsby, and just as the green light beckons him onward, so does her attitude. At this point everything is going perfectly for Gatsby. The trouble with green lights is that sooner or later they change to red.
How does Tom sense immediately that Gatsby is a bootlegger? Tom specializes in superficial labels for people. He will always know the truth about this aspect of a person and will always be able to classify others according to their “place” without any insight or concern for the real human being beneath the label.
What is the meaning of the ladder that Gatsby imagines he saw in the block of the sidewalk? The sidewalk led to Daisy’s home five years ago, and he remembers thinking that he could climb that ladder, claim Daisy, and be part of a world he always craved. He still believes that the dream is attainable.
What finality does he create when he first kisses Daisy? In doing so, he centers all his ambitions upon her. No longer will his visions run wild in infinite scope; they will be based upon the possession of Daisy Fay. She becomes the idol of his religion of materialism, and he surrenders his dream to her.
Why does Fitzgerald emphasize the heat? On a literal level, it is the heat which motivates them to drive from which the final tragedy grows. On a symbolic level, the chapter is a climactic one. The heat symbolizes passions brought to a peak – passions of love, hate, and jealousy.
Why does Gatsby view Daisy’s child with surprise? To him the past five years have not existed, and he is determined that for Daisy they have not existed either; yet here is tangible proof that they did.
What is significant about Tom’s inaccuracy about the sun? It is the second time his intellectual pretensions have been exposed. Tom’s assumption that he is a superior person has been shattered on both a moral and an intellectual plane, but only for Nick. Tom’s self-assurance never wavers.
What is the significance of Daisy’s question about what they will do with the rest of their lives? It reveals the meaninglessness of their existence. Life is really pointless to the Buchanans. Equally important, however, is the fact that Daisy is wondering about the future, when Gatsby thinks it is all settled, that she has made her choice and decided to join her life to his.
Contrast the reactions of Nick and Gatsby to Daisy’s voice. This is the third attempt to categorize the sound of Daisy’s voice. To Jordan earlier, it had a hint of seductiveness; to Gatsby it conveys a sense of riches, and to Nick THE voice sounds merely indiscreet. Gatsby’s view is akin to Jordan’s, but to him the amorous quality is intertwined with the material glamour that Daisy represents. Love and money seem inseparable to him. Nick has the clearest view. Daisy’s voice is indiscreet like the rest of her. She is imprudent, or as Nick says later about both Buchanans, careless. She cares about nothing.
What is ironic about Tom saying that he has a second sight? Tom has absolutely no insight at all, much less second sight! He doesn’t understand other people because he doesn’t really care about them. Human beings are categorized for certain roles in life, and are important to him only as adjuncts to his pleasures and to his view of the social structure to which he belongs.
What comparison is made between Wilson and Tom? Both men have discovered the infidelities of their wives. Wilson, however, is sick with the discovery; it has wounded him in his very soul. Tom is merely outraged, and the only wound sustained has been to his pride. A certain part of his fury at Daisy is based on her choice of a lover, the fact that Gatsby is socially inferior to him.
Why is Nick so pleased with Gatsby’s honesty about Oxford? He is repulsed by the dishonesty and corruption of the others and now identifies with Gatsby. He wants to continue to like him and believe in his integrity and is reassured by the simple honesty with which Gatsby undercuts Tom’s charge of phoniness.
Why dose Tom refer to the liaison between Daisy and Gatsby in terms of intermarriage? To him the difference in classes is equivalent to a difference in race. This is a repetition of his remarks in the first chapter that subordinate races must be kept in their place, must be beaten down, and he now proceeds to beat Gatsby down.
What is the significance of Nick’s thirtieth birthday? Nick has matured during the novel and the climatic scene at the hotel has driven him over the threshold to full adulthood. He no longer sees the world as a nice place peopled by ladies and gentlemen, where mannerly, idealistic behavior is rewarded. He accepts the disillusioning reality of an unjust world and human frailty, even though Gatsby cannot.
How does Nick compare Daisy and Jordan? He feels that Jordan is too sensible to prolong dreams from one era to another. Actually, however, Daisy has not really held on to the dream, for she has refused to transform the dream into reality.
Why does Nick change his feelings toward Jordan? After the accident on the highway he groups Jordan with the Buchanans and wants no part of her. He can no longer identify with Gatsby and admire the man, and he feels totally disillusioned about the human race.
What is Nick’s attitude toward Gatsby? He is horrified by Gatsby’s apparent callousness in killing Myrtle and refusing to stop the car. At this point Tom seems justified in his appraisal of Gatsby and in Nick’s mind even the sordid background of which Tom has accused Gatsby seems not only real but very relevant.
Why are Tom and Daisy reconciled? They are drawn together by their guilt, and by the unacknowledged fact that was implied in the scene at the hotel, that they both have the same cynical attitude toward life. Also, the scene at the hotel and the accident on the highway have destroyed the recent love affairs of both.
Why is Gatsby left standing outside his mansion “watching over” nothing? He is still trying to protect a dream that no longer exists. Gatsby has spent five years shaping reality to fit his dream and he cannot accept the painful truth of Daisy’s desertion. He has made the dream his very life.
How does Nick react when he realizes Gatsby’s innocence? He is once more and forever on Gatsby’s “side.” He recognizes the unbroken integrity of Gatsby’s behavior, his unwarranted loyalty to Daisy. The fact that Daisy is not worthy of such nobility does not minimize Gatsby’s sacrifice.
How has Gatsby’s house changed? It was only a stage setting for the dream, and like the dream it is dead. Its size is still impressive in a lonely way, but it seems old, musty and uncared for.
Why is Gatsby’s love for Daisy described in religious terms? He adores Daisy as an object of a holy faith. He had previously viewed himself as a child of God rather than his own parents and the religion of his ambitions has found its idol in Daisy.
Why does Daisy’s wealth always remain in the foreground of Gatsby’s feelings and memories of her? A subtle distinction is involved here. Gatsby is no fortune hunter, desiring Daisy because she is wealthy, but because she is the product of wealth and therefore its symbol. To him she represents the glamorous world to which he has always aspired. The wealthy background and the girl herself are inextricably bound together in Gatsby’s mind.
What was the basis of Daisy’s decision to marry Tom? His enormous wealth and impeccable social position, as well as the approval of her family, undoubtedly played a part. But Daisy is so lacking in moral and spiritual strength as to seem almost disembodied. She will respond to any force, and Tom is the force at hand.
Why does Daisy always seem mysterious to Gatsby? Daisy is part of a glamorous, unattainable world that has tremendous allure for Gatsby, but which doesn’t really understand. He can never be a part of this world and his inability to know it for what it is causes him to endow Daisy, its symbol, with a mysterious charm.
How does Nick leave Gatsby? Nick goes with great reluctance, missing several trains in order to prolong his time with Gatsby. He now identifies totally with Gatsby. Although Nick is bound to the Buchanans through ties of background, education, and social status (and in Daisy’s case, the actual tie of blood relationship), his real bond is to Gatsby for he recognizes within the unhappy bootlegger the true nobility of a “gentlemen.”
What is Gatsby’s response to Nick’s compliment? When Nick leaves, he tells Gatsby that the Buchanans and their friends are a rotten group and that Gatsby is a better person than any of them. Gatsby at first seems to accept the compliment as a pleasantry but almost immediately he grasps Nick’s sincerity and then the full truth of the statement. He smiles at Nick as if they had been allies all along, joined in the knowledge that Gatsby is indeed superior to the others because he has been true to his dream. He knows that it does not matter if the dream cannot come true, if Daisy is a shoddy source of inspiration; what matters is that he has been faithful like a knight of old, that he has been ennobled by the vision which motivated him. To Gatsby a meaningful illusion is preferable to a meaningless reality
What is the irony of the reference to Gatsby’s “ancestral home”? Although Gatsby has been in the house only a few months, it is his “ancestral home” in a very significant way. The American Dream has promised that every young man can, through hard work and luck, make it to the top and live in a grand, immense house like this one. This dream has been handed down from generation to generation and thus the house is part of his spiritual inheritance.
What is the significance of Nick’s taking charge of Gatsby’s funeral arrangements? His alliance with Gatsby is now complete, both in his eyes and in the eyes of others. He has been the only one to appreciate the real Gatsby and to understand the drives that motivated him. A vicious irony emerges in that of all the people who attended his parties, enjoyed his hospitality, and used him in one way or another, nobody cares enough to pay tribute to the dead man. There is no depth of feeling linking one person to another in this shallow society.
Why do Tom and Daisy leave? They run away to escape responsibility, just as they left Chicago to escape some unspecified scandal. They are “careless” people who take no notice of the harm they have caused. Although the experience with Gatsby has given Nick a new insight and maturity, it has left Daisy and Tom basically unchanged.
How does Nick react to the phone call revealing Gatsby’s criminal activities? While Tom’s original revelations of Gatsby’s background had revolted Nick, he can now accept this confirmation without changing his high opinion of Gatsby as a total human being. He recognizes the essential integrity of the man and can compare it to the essential corruption of Tom, Daisy, and Jordan.
What is the significance of Mr. Gatz’s arrival? It is a deliberate contrast to the desertion of Gatsby’s recent associates and “friends.” The glittering world he sought has abandoned him and none of the hypocritical mob he served has come to honor him in death. Thus the father he disowned is the only one to own him now.
What is the irony of Mr. Gatz’s admiration of the house? He is tremendously awed by the size and splendor of the mansion. His values are the empty ones which had seduced his son, so apparently Gatsby had not gone very far from his source.
What two emotions are pulling at Mr. Gatz? He is moved by both sorrow and pride. The grandeur of the house overwhelms him and he is thrilled to know that his son was its owner. His eyes “leak” from both grief and excitement. He does not really grieve for his son, the actual person, but for his son the “big man” who, had he lived, would have become even bigger. It is evident that though Gatsby abandoned his parents, their ideas of success were forever embedded in his soul.
What is the significance of the owl-eyed man’s attendance at the funeral? Again, he is associated with the omniscient eyes of the sign. He somehow knows about the funeral without Nick’s summons and he comes to pay tribute to Gatsby. Just as the owl-eyed man had recognized the depths of Gatsby’s character beneath the flashy exterior, he now sums up Gatsby’s total existence in terms of compassion. It is pity one must feel for Gatsby, and somehow respect.
What is the significance of Jordan’s comment about the “bad driver”? She and her circle are accustomed to adjusting life to suit themselves. They expect others to stay out of their way and help to make their lives smooth and comfortable. Her mistake was in assuming that Nick would go along with this corrupted version of reality.
How does Tom cling to his image of himself just as Gatsby clings to his dream of Daisy? Tom believes that he has acted as a gentleman throughout the whole affair. Like Gatsby, he has behaved consistently and honorably within the limits of his illusions. He considered Gatsby a threat to his happy marriage, an upstart whose true colors were revealed not only by the facts about his criminal activities but also by his callous killing of Myrtle. Tom, who has forgotten his own brutal treatment of Myrtle in the past, thinks he felt genuine sorrow at her loss. He had no compunction about sending Wilson out after Gatsby since he believed the bootlegger to be guilty of her death. In his own eyes, Tom has behaved correctly throughout the entire experience; he has been the perfect upper-class gentleman, adhering manfully to an upper-class code of values.
Why does Nick finally shake hands with Tom? Nick has matured and now understands the world’s corruption. There is no place for the nobility of Gatsby’s dream; only the selfish toughness of a Tom Buchanan can survive. Nick will not be misled by illusion. He knows Tom for what he is, and shakes his hand.
Why does Nick feel that Gatsby’s tragedy is a contrast between the East and the West? He feels that there is more interest, more caring about people on human terms in the West and Middle West. Although the East may be superior in terms of intellect and excitement, he misses the human values of the West. Since none of the major characters in the novel were originally Easterners, Nick wonders if perhaps the tragedy might have been caused by their inability to adapt to the cold, unfeeling nature of the East.

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