Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Great Gatsby

With all the flurry around the film (however quickly it came and went) we picked The Great Gatsby as our classic for the year.  (Being as it is so short, we will do another short classic for Ocotber, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).

This book gave us a lot to discuss- mainly because there are so many great guides and questions posed online.  As usual, I am not going to go into these here because this blog is more of a pulse on whether or not the book made a good book club book, and whether or not we found things to discuss.

For a detailed list I recommend this list of discussion questions found at Reading Group guides.
There are also several articles that discuss the symbolism in the book- from the color of what the characters wear or are surrounded by, to the temperature of the scene they are involved in, there are symbols here that are well placed and well thought out.  The obvious ones (like the all-seeing eyes) are just as fun as the not so common (even the names of the girls imply innocence or guilt.)  Unfortunately, I found a detailed article for our club, but since the release of the movie it has been swallowed up in the web and I can't find it- but don't worry, there is plenty more out there to be found, you will just have to do the digging yourself.

One thing that caused quite a stir at our club was the symbol of Gatsby as a Savior like figure. While some of us were able to roll with it (he does take the blame and carry the sin of Daisy, and he dies for the sin) others found this too difficult a jump to make.  The author says in Chapter 6 that he invented himself, he was a 'son of God" and later notes he would be 'about his father's business', so it could well be argued that the author intended to make this connection.... but, as one of our members pointed out, then what does this say about Fitzgerald?  For Gatsby was no saint- he was troubled, obsessive, and dishonest, all to get the thing he desired...does this reflect the authors view of Christianity?  As you can see- this opened up a whole tangle of discussion that never really came to a decisive conclusion (the best way to leave book club, I think).

We quoted plenty of lines, enjoying the turn of phrase and citing feelings of disgust with the 20's roaring lifestyle.  It was a good book to discuss with a whole new take if you had seen the film. (I saw the movie first, and personally loved the imagery as I was reading many of the scenes).

Overall rating 3.5 stars out 5.
Out of the 9 at book club only one reader did not finish the book.

Not an amazing story, really, but interesting enough and short (bonus for many) and one most of us should have read in high school but may have skipped.  It was fun to revisit it as a club.