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Illusions and Reality in The Great Gatsby

According to Cynthia Wu, no matter how many critical opinions there are on The Great Gatsby, the book basically deals with Gatsby’s dream and his illusions (39). We find out from the novel that Jay Gatsby is not even a real person but someone that James Gatz invented. Wu also tells us that Gatsby has illusions that deal with romance, love, beauty, and ideals (39). Wu also points out that Gatsby’s illusions can be divided into four related categories: he came from a rich upper class family, a never ending love between him and Daisy, money as the answer to every problem, and reversible time. Through Nick’s narrations we can really see who this Jay Gatsby is and the reality to his illusions, and from this we can make our own decision on who we think Jay Gatsby really is.

The first memory upon which the narrator meditates on is the story behind Jay Gatsby’s true identity: James Gatz-that was really , or at least legally, his name. He had changed it at the age of seventeen and at specific moment that witnessed the beginning of his career-when he saw Dan Cody’s yacht drop anchor over the most insidious flat on Lake Superior. It was James Gatz who had been loafing along the beach that afternoon in a torn green jersey and a pair of canvas pants, but it was already Jay Gatsby who borrowed a rowboat, pulled out to the Tuolomee, and informed Cody that a wind might catch him and break him up in half an hour. (qtd. in Dillon 53)

I agree with Nick when he tells us that Jay probably had the name ready for a long time. Jay couldn’t accept himself for who he really was and couldn’t accept his history for what it really was. Then it stands to reason that Nick is correct on page 104 when he states: Jay’s imagination never accepted h…

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…cording to Dillon, even though Gatsby had so much missing he did have one greatness and that one greatness was his illusions (61).

Works Cited

Dillon, Andrew. “The Great Gatsby: The Vitality of Illusion.” The Arizona Quarterly 44 Spr. 1988: 49-61.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992.

Irwin, John T. “Compensating Visions: The Great Gatsby.” Southwest Review 77 Autumn 1992: 536-545.

Mitchell, Giles. “Gatsby Is a Pathological Narcissist.” Readings On The Great Gatsby. Ed. Bruno Leone, et al. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1998. 61-67.

Pauly, Thomas H. “Gatsby Is a Sinister Gangster.” Readings On The Great Gatsby. Ed. Bruno Leone, et al. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1998. 41-51.

Wu, Cynthia The Great Gatsby: Illusion and Reality for Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway. 17 (1984): 39-68

Comparing the American Dream in My Antonia, Neighbor Rosicky, and 0 Pioneers!

The American Dream in My Antonia, Neighbor Rosicky, and 0 Pioneers!

While many American immigrant narratives concentrate on the culture shock that awaits those who arrive from the more rural Old World to live in a city for the first time, Willa Cather’s immigrants, often coming from urban European settings, face the vast and empty land of the plains. Guy Reynolds notes that “the massive outburst of America westwards was in part powered by the explosion of immigrants through the eastern seaboard and across the continent. Ethnic diversity was at the heart of America’s drive westwards” (63). The land and land ownership shape the lives of these newcomers in powerful ways, giving them an immigrant experience that is in some ways quite unique. In “Neighbor Rosicky,” 0 Pioneers!, and My Antonia, Cather presents vivid characters and situations that serve to describe the urban-rural conflict in America, and as John H. Randall III notes, “‘there is no doubt in the author’s mind as to whether the country or city is the real America” (272).

In “Neighbor Rosicky”, the notion of land ownership as a fundamental feature of the American Dream is most clearly set forth. Anton Rosicky is a Czech who experienced life as an immigrant both in London and New York City and found both lacking. Only in his life on the farm in Nebraska does he find peace and fulfillment.

Rosicky had been a tailor in the Old Country and had immigrated first to London, where he was miserable and poor. At age twenty he left London for New York, and for a time he was happy there, becoming “a good workman” (Cather, “‘Neighbor Rosicky” 241) and experiencing the cultural life of the city, including opera and the ballet. As time goes on, however, he …

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…at owning land brings are a substantial part of the American Dream immigrants come to the United States hoping to achieve.

Works Cited

Cather, Willa. My Antonia. New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1995.

—. “Neighbor Rosicky.” Collected Stories. New York. Vintage Classics, 1992. 231-261

—. 0 Pioneers. New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1995.

McFarland, Dorothy Tuck. Willa Cather. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1972.

Randall, III, John H. “Interpretation of My Antonia.” Willa Cather and Her Critics. Ed. James Schroeter. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1967. 272-322.

Reynolds, Guy. Willa Cather in Context. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996.

Woodness, James. “Willa Cather: American Experience and European Tradition.” The Art of Willa Cather. Ed. Bernice Slote and Virginia Faulkner. Lincoln: 1974. 43-64.

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