F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic "The Great Gatsby" is a glittering parade of parties and excess, but at its heart it is about identity and whether being wealthy in America can help you change who you really are. Learn this word list that focuses on Nick Carraway and his observations.
(followed by `to') informed about something secret or not generally known
Nick is using "privy" as an adjective here but it can also be a noun meaning "a room or building equipped with one or more toilets." With that double meaning, Nick could be seen as making fun of both his own passive nature and the nature of the secrets that were shared with him.
The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was
privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men.
Nick admits to feigning actions and emotions in order to avoid listening to the seemingly fake revelations of others. Another reason he might not have wanted to hear these secrets is that doing so places him in the position of being responsible for someone else's happiness. Fitzgerald includes this admission here to set the readers up for the contrasts in Nick's relationship with Gatsby.
Most of the confidences were unsought--frequently I have
feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon--for the intimate revelations of young men or at least the terms in which they express them are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.
Most of the confidences were unsought--frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile
levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon--for the intimate revelations of young men or at least the terms in which they express them are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.
No--Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded
elations of men.
characterized by a firm and humorless belief in the validity of your opinions
I was rather literary in college--one year I wrote a series of very
solemn and obvious editorials for the "Yale News"--and now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the "well-rounded man."
His family were enormously wealthy--even in college his freedom with money was a matter for
reproach--but now he'd left Chicago and come east in a fashion that rather took your breath away: for instance he'd brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest.
The last three words were used in descriptions that show Nick's scornful attitude towards Tom Buchanan. Even in describing Tom's wistfulness, Nick adds the adjectives "harsh" and "defiant". By noting that Tom wanted his approval, Nick is suggesting that, back in college, he was the better man, and he is even more so now that is openly disapproving of Tom in his book.
We were in the same Senior Society, and while we were never intimate I always had the impression that he approved of me and wanted me to like him with some harsh, defiant
wistfulness of his own.
impossible or difficult to perceive by the mind or senses
At any rate Miss Baker's lips fluttered, she nodded at me almost imperceptibly and then quickly tipped her head back again--the object she was balancing had obviously tottered a little and given her something of a fright.
Before I could reply that he was my neighbor dinner was announced; wedging his tense arm imperatively under mine Tom Buchanan
compelled me from the room as though he were moving a checker to another square.
Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering inconsequence that was never quite chatter, that was as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire.
Although details of Daisy and Jordan's "bantering inconsequence" are not given here, examples of it are seen throughout the dialogues that Fitzgerald intentionally creates as the writer and that Nick somehow remembers and repeats as the first-person narrator.
Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering
inconsequence that was never quite chatter, that was as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire.
I couldn't guess what Daisy and Tom were thinking but I doubt if even Miss Baker who seemed to have mastered a certain
hardy skepticism was able utterly to put this fifth guest's shrill metallic urgency out of mind.
a false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person
An overheard rumor is not libel; it could be slander, but the rumor is about an event that's supposed to be happy not hurtful. As a Yale graduate who used to write for the college's newspaper, Nick would know the different intents attached to rumor, libel and slander. But he deliberately exaggerates here to be funny and to emphasize that he is not ready for marriage.
"That's right," corroborated Tom kindly. "We heard that you were engaged."
Nick's descriptions show how observant he is--not only does he pick up on "intimations", he also sees things that are almost "imperceptible", hears murmurs that have been "subdued", and often tries to guess what others are thinking and feeling. These are good traits for a writer, but they could also intimate a lack of depth or originality within a character--which leads Nick to admire Gatsby.
But I didn't call to him for he gave a sudden
intimation that he was content to be alone--he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling.