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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is considered a great American novel because of its fast-paced intricate plot and round complex characters. Throughout the work we witness many different perspectives and opinions about life in New York in the 1920s. There were stark differences between the activities of the wealthy and poor in society. A sententious quote was stated by the main character, Nick Carraway after experiencing a lavish evening surrounded by individuals with seemingly no morals, “I was within and without simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life” (Fitzgerald 35). The importance and impact of this quote can be seen through personal interpretation, revelation of Nick’s dual-natured character in the novel, and validity of its message in today’s society, through the baby boomer generation and increased dependency on technology.
This quote discusses the extreme parallels of life. There are many aspects of creation that are pure, gorgeous, and innocent. Other components are twisted, ugly, and evil. An over-abundance of both are present in the world today. “Inexhaustible” in the above quote emphasizes the never-ending possibilities and discoveries to be made. This quote can be used to describe any situation or experience. There are virtually no circumstances in life that are completely repulsive or entirely amazing. Most experiences are a twisted mixture of both. “With and without” explains that internal thoughts and outward expressions can coincide to relay the same message or feelings. This is an incredibly powerful and complex quote that must be fully understood to realize its significance.
Nick Carraway stated this quote after spending the day with his brother-law Tom Buchanan and Tom’s mistress, Mertle. The odd collection of people drank and shamelessly partied in the apartment Tom provides for Mertle. This quote explains the drastic parallels Nick experiences throughout his journey in New York living next door to the wealthy, grandiose Jay Gatsby. All of a sudden Nick was thrown into this crazy, twisted world. He was not used to such lavish parties and outrageous behavior. Everything is new, different and very overwhelming to Nick. He appears to be excited about this extravagant world he has suddenly entered, but also repulsed by the staggering lack of principals. Nick is simultaneously participating in the chaos and witnessing these events from a stranger’s perspective. He possesses the ability to share his personal thoughts and feelings while also understanding and conveying the opinions of someone simply witnessing the flamboyance. Throughout the novel, Nick often draws interesting parallels between his own thoughts of a situation and how he believes an observer would interpret the same circumstance. Ambivalent feelings constantly course through Nick’s mind as he experiences the extreme highs and lows of life.
The over-arching message conveyed by this expressive quote is visible in today’s modern society. There are many amazing advancements in technology and medicine occurring in the world today. Vicious, heartless crimes and acts of violence are unfortunately also very prevalent. It’s easy to experience both ends of the spectrum. Take a college campus for example, it’s a wonderful place where new discoveries are made and people can reach their full potential. Contrastingly, there’s also a lot of partying, drinking, and partaking in immoral acts. The generation born directly after World War 2 can especially relate to this quote. Modern society has changed substantially in a short 70 years. Dependence on technology has increased dramatically. This generation has lived through a period of time without much extended use of computers and cell phones. Now, however the same individuals are experiencing a new culture, over-saturated with electronic devices. Members of this generation are intrigued by new advancements in technology, while also resisting to fully accept its influence. When discovering the immense possibilities of something for the first time, such as a computer, it is common to have contradicting feelings of amazement and frustration. The baby boomer generation can relate to Nick, in the way he is both partaking in a situation and looking at the circumstances from a bystander’s perspective. This specific group of people is well-versed in the ability to be fully present during an event, while also recalling memories from the past and wondering what someone outside of the situation would think.
This sententious quote displays the complex dual-nature of our world. It explains the concept of being amazed and horrified of a situation. Nick Carraway experiences many intriguing, outrageous events throughout the novel. He is “simultaneously enchanted and repelled” by the ostentatious actions of Gatsby and the Buchanans. Nick has a unique ability to portray his own internal feelings, while also understanding an outsider’s perspective of his current situation. This quote’s validity can be proven in our current society. Members of the baby boomer generation are fascinated by the powerful technology of our world, but also repelled by its complexity and society’s dependence on it. The above quote, is very profound and thought-provoking, but sadly often over-looked in The Great Gatsby. The world is beautifully distorted, twisted but innocent, and open to one’s personal interpretation.
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