MAP English 11H
10 March 2015
The Great Gatsby Socratic Prep
1. The character of Owl-Eyes (who appropriately is not given a real name) primarily plays along with the motif of impartial eyes constantly observing the events that play out. His impartial view as a random stranger who attends Gatsby’s parties is invaluable to the biased characters who primarily dictate the novel. Despite only appearing two times throughout the novel, both appearances recognize Gatsby’s unlikely authenticity - the first time he is surprised to find that the books in Gatsby’s library are real, saying “It’s a bona-fide piece of printed matter. It fooled me. This fella’s a regular Belasco. It’s a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism!” His unexpected attendance at the funeral brings his recognition of Gatsby’s authenticity back into the novel - “He took off his glasses and wiped them again, outside and in. ‘That poor son-of-a-bitch,’ he said” (175). Wiping his glasses to figuratively imply a true and honest view, Owl-Eyes acknowledges that people just used Gatsby for his wealth and parties; people who leave immediately after the party ends without cleaning the aftermath. Gatsby may not have acquired his wealth through normal means, but Owl-Eyes’ presence allows readers to see the human and real side of him.
2. As a whole, Daisy simply represents the values and behavior of the old wealth/East Egg social class. Fitzgerald delivers an effective criticism of exactly that (influenced by Zelda Fitzgerald’s demands), the shallowness and insecurities of the inherited upper class. Note that there is a divide between the inherited upper class (old wealth) and the American Dream upper class (new wealth and Gatsby) - Daisy’s reaction to this difference where she “saw something awful in the very simplicity [of West Egg] she failed to understand” (175). This divide is basically why Daisy chooses to go with Tom, stable old wealth with a history of prestige. It is also interesting to note that this class divide has diminished (at least from what I see?) today; a majority of the elite 0.1 percenters are self made or inherited money but did something of value with it/contributed to it., The internet, media, and new information age of the 21st century have mostly democratized old wealth and new wealth. Even for the elite Wall Street hedge fund managers parties and summits are mostly a meritocracy – especially with algorithmic trading, anyone with the right talent can make their way to the top 0.1 percent. Because of this democratization of the upper class by technology, the true American Dream is becoming more and more of a reality than what it was decades ago. (Unless you are stuck with America’s terrible immigration policies, that is.)
3. Gatsby was great for his drive and ability to deliver. His main flaw that held him back from being “truly” great was his naivete for reality. Both of these qualities make up a perfect example of a romantic hero, falling victim to certain things like “Tom’s hard malice”. Gatsby is “worth the whole damn bunch put together” because the bunch is not much to be compared to - almost anything is worth more than greedy and snobby rich people (154). The foul dust is the unfortunate and partially corrupt reality of the situation, at the end, Gatsby is prevented from becoming a true wealthy man just because of how the system works.
4. The Upper Class is undeniably more careless and reckless than their plebian counterparts, and they have a reason to be so. They have the resources and connections to basically do whatever they want with little consequence, hence the careless driving metaphor. Everyone in the novel is corrupt in at least one area, but not solely because of wealth. Wealth only increases your already high corrupt-o-meter. Wealth is associated with carelessness but not with corruption, ie. Dan Bilzerian (who is known to be quite wasteful) versus Bill Gates (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). A simple