Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Great Gatsby vs. The Catcher in the Rye

Sarah Schmitt
Miss Stress
AP Language and Composition
10 January 2012
The Great Catcher in the Rye
            In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, Gatsby, the mysterious yet fabulously wealthy neighbor of the narrator, Nick Carraway, is unhealthily obsessed with the past. Likewise, Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, cannot move forward in his life because he is equally caught up in what once was. In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby is obsessed with the idea that Daisy “never loved Tom—“ Gatsby has spent the last eight years amassing wealth, building a beautiful house, living minutes away from Daisy—all to make up for the time that he was too far away and too poor to be with Daisy. When he reunites with Daisy, Gatsby childishly thinks they can instantly go back to the time when they were young and in love. When Daisy is talking about Tom, Gatsby naively tells her “That’s all over now. It doesn’t matter anymore. Just tell him the truth—that you never loved him—and it’s all wiped out forever”(Fitzgerald 32). When Tom tells Gatsby “There are things between Daisy and me, that you will never know, things that neither of us can forget”(Fitzgerald 132). Tom’s words shatter Gatsby’s wishful thinking, as Nick observes, “The words seemed to bite physically into Gatsby”(Fitzgerald 132). Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy is tantamount to Holden’s desire to keep his first love, Jane Gallagher preserved in the past. Just like Gatsby wants to “wipe it all away” Holden confesses that, “Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone”(Salinger 122). Holden is afraid of the effects of the real world on the things he loves—Gatsby is trying to “wipe away” the negatives effects of reality on Daisy and go back to where they were, to the “glass case” that Holden longs for.  Holden Caulfield and Jay Gatsby are just two of many “Boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”(180). 

1 comment:

  1. I made the same novel comparison in my blog, it made it very interesting to read your opinion on the books' connections. You can sound a little redundant, like at the beginning when you start to sentences consecutively with "when", but that's a minor error. The quotes you used were very effective in the characters' contrast, especially when noting Gatsby's "negative effects" on Daisy toward Holden's fear of effects on the things he loves. In the last sentence you tie a quote in with the sentence which makes a great conclusion, though you did not state which book it was taken from. An overall exceptional job.