Published in 1925, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is one of the staples of American literature, and a favorite for high school English teachers. The novel takes place during the early 1920s, called The Jazz Age by Fitzgerald. The narrator, Nick Carraway, just moved into the area, and is invited to his cousin Daisy’s home, who is married to Tom Buchanan. What follows is a drama-filled narrative revolving around a peculiar, mysterious man named Jay Gatsby.
I’ll admit at first I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book, especially due to, in my opinion, a slow first act that doesn’t engage me till a few chapters in. Despite the poor pacing of the opening chapters, I find the rest of the events of the book to be spread out well. The first person perspective of Nick is also used well, as it upholds the mysterious tone and uncertainty surrounding many of the characters. The characters themselves are also all well developed throughout the book and fairly different from each other, providing a unique story that blended many themes together.
Fitzgerald is known for his excellent symbolism and imagery, as many seemingly small events contain messages that foreshadow future events or provide commentary on society. I appreciated these as I went back and noticed them, or as my teacher explained them to me. Another element I enjoyed was the humor, as Fitzgerald poked fun at society and at the ignorance of characters, parodying the Roaring 20s’ American lifestyle.
Overall, I was very impressed with The Great Gatsby’s storytelling, characterization, symbolism, and social commentary, while somewhat disappointed by its less than thrilling first act. I would recommend The Great Gatsby to readers who like grounded dramas.
-Ahmed H., grade 12