Hello to all the Old Sports out there! I’m not sure how it was for any of you who had to – or got to – read this book back in high school, but for me personally, I loved it and still hail it as my top favorite classic novel to this day (with To Kill A Mockingbird as the second place slot).
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There were so many reasons why I loved – and still do love – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s praised novel, from the compelling story to his complex character, all the way to the Long Island representation that is so desperately needed… (I am a Long Island native, born and raised and proud.)
So anyway, whether you checked out our selectively chosen quotes from the novel on our site, here are the most memorable moments from the novel to go hand-in-hand with those…
(Also, keep mind that these are moments that I would personally choose to dwell on for this list, and pretty much all of them have to do with Gatsby himself in some way, whether he’s there in the scene or not; it’s just that these are moments that to me make the novel, like Gatsby himself, truly “great.” Sorry, you know I had to…)
1. Nick’s first sort-of/real encounter with Gatsby
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Now, I say encounters because there were actually two of them to note: the one-sided encounter on the dock, and the official one face-to-face at Gatsby’s party.
The one on the dock comes at the end of the first chapter when Nick sees only Gatsby’s silhouette on the edge of his lawn looking out towards the other end of the bay where there shines a bright green light (a.k.a. Daisy’s light by her dock). The second one is when Nick is invited to and goes to Gatsby’s party – the first one he’s ever been to – where lo and behold he meets the man himself, Jay Gatsby, and soon enough, the two hit it off!
At first though, it came as a bit of a shock for Nick, for he expected him to be the stereotypical chortling, round bellied rich man who embodies nothing but greed, given the luxurious mansion and extravagant parties he throws every single night, but as Nick – and we as the readers – will come to know, Gatsby is not at all who he seems, or who he is expected to be.
2. Owl Eyes’s observation about Gatsby’s library
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Aside from the beautiful sight that is Gatsby’s library, stocked up with his entire book collection – at least we think that’s all he has – this scene proves to be very significant in understanding Gatsby’s character, without having his character there in the scene to prove that to us: when Nick and his date Jordan go into Gatsby’s library, a bespectacled man there, who Nick calls Owl Eyes, is shown studying the books themselves on the shelves – an act which all of us bookworms can relate to and may not be so quick to admit – and notes to the pair that the books are real books.
If memory serves me right from my English class in junior year when my class was covering this book, the rich – certainly during the Roaring Twenties, the era jam-packed with many outlandish parties and hidden speakeasies – typically stuffed up their library shelves with fake books. These were either truly fake, or something that resembled real books on the outside but had nothing on the other side of them – in order to present a façade for people to see, unless they looked deep below the surface.
Owl Eyes’s comment about the books, though unread – which is so relatable for all of us with long TBR piles and dusty shelves – as being actual books conveys to us that Gatsby is not like the other rich people that reside in the West and East Egg areas of LI and that he is so much more underneath, another reason why I love him as a character… (Sorry, English lesson over!)
3. The tea party scene
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This scene is on here for a lot of reasons. First off, the awkwardness. In fact, watch the movie remake’s take on this scene, where Leo as Gatsby just goes above and beyond in his acting game here. The second thing, it shows us just how initially uncomfortable both Gatsby and Daisy are in meeting again – after all, it would have been five years that November – but as time passes throughout the scene, it proved to be very much needed interaction between the two – without Nick there!
So much so that it would definitely be my personal favorite scene in the book and the second movie! (Yes, I do still intend to see the original with Robert Redford, and given our quarantine, I think that should be given a watch…)
4. Nick’s final moments with Gatsby
Image via We Heart It
Oh… this scene. Even at the time when I was first reading this, some part of me just knew that something bad was gonna happen following this scene, which made me pay attention to it even more. Up to this point in the story, book and movie, Nick and Gatsby have developed such a kinship that extends far beyond their neighborly ties, a bond that couldn’t be broken – perhaps THE bromance of early 20th-century American literature! (But hey, that’s just me…)
This scene is the final scene where we see these two characters, they who at first seemed unlikely to be friends, now close companions of a special, unique bond… this is the last time we see them interact together with some shared understanding of everything that’s happened in the chapters that preceded this one (Chapter 8). While Nick deep down knows he should’ve stayed, he instead decides to go off to work, leaving Gatsby to clean out his unused pool for the upcoming autumn, but not before he pays Gatsby the “only compliment” he’s ever given him…
“They’re a rotten crowd. You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”
5. Gatsby’s funeral – with a few unexpected but special guests
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Now, I’m almost sure this isn’t the case with the OG 1974 movie, but the way this scene is portrayed in the 2013 movie is low-key criminal: while it is true that none of Gatsby’s hundred party guests have come to pay their respects after Nick have sent for them, including Daisy (“not even a flower” – no daisies from Daisy), the remake leaves out a few important people, either by omittance for its final cut or by last-minute dropout: Gatsby’s father Henry Gatz and Owl Eyes.
First off, the book makes a very demonstrative point of including Gatsby’s father’s attendance at the small funeral for Gatsby to show the readers that despite their tumultuous past, Mr. Gatz still comes to see his little boy Jimmy Gatz from so long ago, now a dapper grown man in a coffin, surprising both Nick and us the readers. Henry was the case in that – and I didn’t find this out until now – though his arrival was initially shot to be used in the movie, it was ultimately left out of the final cut and put aside as a deleted scene.
And as for Owl Eyes, though we saw him earlier at the party, in the book, he makes another important cameo at Gatsby’s burial site, showing us (once again) that he, along with Nick and Mr. Gatz, is among the selected few who saw Gatsby who he truly was: nothing short of “great.”
Anyway, which one of these moments or any TGG moment was your favorite? Happy (Belated) Great Gatsby Day! Now that we’re done with the list, so we beat on, as well as read on…
Featured Image via Book Marks
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