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Harkness Reflection

In Century Girl, core texts, discussions, passages, reflection on October 11, 2012 at 2:04 am

Our group discussed the text from page 34 to 41. On pages 34 and 35, there are descriptions of the Follies and the pictures show what the Follies looked like and what they actually represented. Page 37 tells about Ziegfeld’s trace to nobility of the Follies girls and talks about leaving conservatism and entering being more scandalous, the era of the new fashion style: sex appeal. The next page gives the profile of Ziegfeld from how he got started and his career at the point in the book. Pages 40 and 41 talk about how to be beautiful, how society abuses fake beauty, and how society was interacting and its response to the new fashion, beauty, era.
Through the Harkness discussion, we learned that beauty and appearance are extremely important at that time, and the new image of the ideal woman causes the male dominance to decrease and start to decline. Also, Follie girls’ attractive performance along with classy costumes were appealing and glamorous to people and served as the escape for people who were working hard in their daily life. Ziegfeld’s description and words that his girls were classy and have noble ancestry suggest that he also wants to be seen as a classy person. This is well represented by his purple tie on page 38 that symbolizes nobility. On pages 36-37, we learned about how Titanic is sinking in the blue ocean, which symbolizes that the sinking of conservatism. The ice berg image of the top of the page 37 represents the new ideas and new images of beauty, the sexual appeal. We came up with a structural question: Why is Ziegfeld brought up after he was introduced earlier in the text? For the answer, we thought that such introductions make readers more attached to the shows, and let them learn more about him. Perhaps, Redniss thought that it would be interesting knowing about him after his success. Lastly, we talked about the analogy of the phrase “…Urban background, the inviting semi-smile, the senous, sophisticated atmosphere, the silk and softness of the female, he thought, would be as good to city flok as a SEARS-ROEBUCK catalogue…” (Redniss 35). This shows the analogy that people watching the Follies are similar to a country person looking at a city catalog: how people want things in magazines and the viewers watching the shows either want them or want to be like them.
We are still confused about some portions of the text and came up with two questions:
1) Why do they give such detailed description and also give a picture of it as well? (page 34-35)
2) Why they have different color backgrounds and what is the significance?
We would like to expand more about the idea that we came up with on page 40: How and why does Doris, at such a young age, want to become a part of the Follies, the sex era. Also, if we had more time, we could have either analyzed a larger portion of the text or focused in on a specific page or small portion of the text.

Social Status Used For Good

In core texts, The Great Gatsby on September 30, 2012 at 9:33 pm

One of the main reasons Jay Gatsby was well known around New York was because of the extravagant parties he held each weekend. Only people belonging in the Upper Class were invited to attend. At the parties thrown weekly, the guests arrive to only treat themselves to what Gatsby had to offer; things like a Rolls Royce, pool, food, large quantities of alcohol, and an orchestra for entertainment.

In the article I read, it commented on how an organization a few months ago had a Great Gatsby party to raise money for charity. At the party they hosted, all the things that were existent in Gatsby’s parties were present: the food, alcohol and even an orchestra. They made the parties fun for the people attending while also raising money for their charity.

When thinking about the parties that Gatsby held, his wealth was spotlighted to reveal his lavish lifestyle. Even though the other attendees are part of the Upper Class, Gatsby needed to keep up his image in order to keep his place in the social status.  With the amount of Upper Class members at the parties, I began wondering why he didn’t use his social status for good things in the community.

Relating his parties to help the community, Gatsby is close to already holding a community event with allowing others to attend his parties. I thought it would have been a good thing for Gatsby to expand the thought of the parties and have the attendees make a donation. Therefore, the party would benefit his social status while also benefiting the community.

This helped me better understand Gatsby as a character. Coming from a poor background, I would have assumed that Gatsby would have had a desire to help the less fortunate, even if it was something small. Instead, he flaunted the things he had while only keeping in mind his social status.

http://www.nbcdfw.com/the-scene/events/Great-Gatsby-Party-to-Raise-Money-for-Charity-167424615.html

 

Doubtful Woman

In core texts, The Great Gatsby on September 30, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Jordan Baker was an unusual character in the 1920s, especially that there was still strong predominance of men over women. She was drawn as the tomboy, and in that time, the term meant more than what term does now. Nowadays, people don’t – or know they shouldn’t – judge other people by how they dress, or their looks. In the text, there were judgments made by Nick Carraway about Jordan, hinting at the idea that she is a lesbian.

Lois Chiles as Jordan Baker

Of course, the book wouldn’t say that outright. The first time when the word “lesbian” was said was in the book Breakfast in Tiffany’s (1958), which was published 33 years after The Great Gatsby. To show directly that one character is a lesbian was a taboo in that time. However, Jordan’s description  in the book had the representation of the stereotypical lesbians.

The fact that Jordan was involved in professional golf (which was uncommon at the time) was one of the reasons to brand her as a lesbian. Showing herself as a tomboy, there were many possibilities that she could’ve been judged as a lesbian. Having competition between men and looked down upon, she maybe started distrusting the male figure.

Also, having Daisy as her best friend, where Tom has been cheating on Daisy, her male distrust could have been increased by listening and watching what Tom has been doing with his mistress, betraying his wife. Both looked upon and looking at her best friend’s husband cheating on her, recoiling herself from romance between men and women.

The dishonesty that Nick claims that Jordan had is said that what people should not blame about. The “hidden” things of Jordan is her sexual disposition, which she can’t tell anyone, at least in 1920s.

The Great Gatsby and The Potato

In core texts, The Great Gatsby on September 30, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I read a Korean novel named The Potato. It has a completely different setting and characters from The Great Gatsby, but I think some of the themes are similar. The author of The Potato is Kim Dong-in,  and this is the classic novel of Korean literature. It is about the life of a woman whose name is Boknyo. She is born in a poor noble family. But after his father sells her to her husband, her life changes. To earn more money easily, she does prostitution. One day, a rich Chinese tenant catches her while she steals potatoes in his farm. From that day, she sells prostitution only to him and earns a lot of money. However, one day, that Chinese tenant gets a wife. Boknyo gets angry and fights with him. During the fighting, he kills her. Few days later, the Chinese tenant gives some money to Boknyo’s husband and doctor. And the doctor diagnose that Boknyo died of cerebral hemorrhage.

In this story, Boknyo chooses money rather than her morality and love. Boknyo has basic idea of morality because she was educated when she was young. She tries to work fairly at first, but she submits to expediency. As she keeps repeating the false behaviors, her morality gets polluted. Similarly, Daisy chooses money instead of love in The Great Gatsby, too. Daisy loved Gatsby when she was young, but her mind changes when she faces the money and wealthy life of Tom Buchanan. Both Daisy and Boknyo betray what their hearts initially told to do.

Also, as the time goes, the society changes the characteristics of Boknyo and Daisy. Boknyo had a good morality when she was young, because her family is noble. However, after she gets married, she changes to a prostitute. A noblewoman and a prostitute are two contrasting characters. The author gives this contrast to show how money can change one’s characteristics. Moreover, Daisy was pure young lady who has a passionate heart: she truly loved Gatsby when she was young. However, she left her lover to marry to a rich guy. Her pure love gets polluted as she gets older. The theme, “Money can change one’s characteristics” also applies with The Great Gatsby.

I chose this book for my self-blog post because I wanted to show that the money does impact on one’s life in any countries. I hope you can share with me some books related to The Great Gatsby and The Potato from another side of the world literature.

No Longer James

In core texts, The Great Gatsby on September 30, 2012 at 9:10 pm

You may not realize it, but names greatly affect peoples’ perceptions of others and of themselves. While reading The Great Gatsby, I was intrigued when I learned that Gatsby had changed his name.  Why was he not satisfied with James Gatz, and what motivated him to call himself Jay Gatsby specifically?

I researched different reasons people change their names and found a list that included what I believe to be a part of Gatsby’s incentive. The list includes: “inattention,” “the coattail effect,” “feuds,” “objectionable pronunciations or spellings,” “rich names,” “difficult spellings or pronunciations,” and lastly “dislike.” Some of these categories may be a bit confusing or unclear just from their titles, so I suggest you take a look at their descriptions by clicking here.

The one I feel fits best with Gatsby’s decision to change his name is the “rich names” category. This category includes people that “change perfectly good names, even really [great] names, because they think it will place an obstacle on their path to success.” The first time Gatsby refers to himself as Jay Gatsby is when he introduces himself to the wealthy Dan Cody as a young adult. This is the turning point in Gatsby’s life when he makes the commitment to becoming a man of distinct wealth and luxury. Even before this point, Gatsby is ashamed of his modest Midwest upbringing. When he leaves behind James Gatz to become Jay Gatsby, he is essentially disregarding his past and starting his life over from scratch. Perhaps he feels that reaching success (which in his mind is wealth) is impossible with his background. By changing his name which is associated with his upbringing, he can hide behind his new name, not only so that others will accept him into the upper class luxury world, but also to hide his true identity from himself. The majority of his life as Jay Gatsby is built on lies, and the biggest lie was to himself.

Another point I want to bring up is the name Jay itself. Jay is a lot flashier than James, much like Gatsby’s mansion and extravagant parties.  He may have thought that it might help him stand out in the East where having money isn’t enough to be accepted into the upper class society. Also, according to http://www.thinkbabynames.com, Jay is a Sanskrit name meaning “victory.” By making this his name, perhaps he was trying to manipulate his own future. Trying to ensure that he would be victorious in reaching success. This of course is ironic because even though he gains all the wealth that he desired, he never won over Daisy or became truly content with himself or his life.

 

Prohibition and the Common Drug Store: How Gatsby Made His Millions?

In core texts, The Great Gatsby on September 30, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Remember exactly how Gatsby made his millions? Me neither. Yeah, well… it’s complicated and debatable. The closest I got to a formal answer was a couple of dropped hints that he was a bootlegger that made money through drugstores. What does even this mean?

Well during the 1920’s, Prohibition law kept Americans from buying and selling all alcoholic drinks. The reason it didn’t apply to Gatsby at the time was probably due to his GIGANTIC fortune and possible bootlegger connections.  All that “expensive” liquor was illegal making it even more expensive than ever!!!

At the time, the only way to get drinks was either through illegal criminal gangs, secret import,  homemade and dangerous liquor, or in the safest method,  a prescription from your doctor. Yes that’s right! Your doctor could write you a prescription for “medicinal whiskey”! When a society that drank three times as much as the average American today ran dry, a LOT of people raced to their local doctor complaining of various ailments, covering a wide range of diseases like the flu or anxiety.

But, this brisk trade ended up not restricted to just legal Whiskey. To quote the PBS Prohibition documentary website, “Bootleggers quickly discovered that running a pharmacy was a perfect front for their trade.” I couldn’t have said it better myself! During prohibition, registration to be a pharmacist in New York tripled, the majority of them bootleggers that wanted a place to sell their illegally obtained whiskey both publicly and without persecution. It goes without saying that MANY of them sold to the public under the table at these places.

In lucky Washington, an old law allowed for alcohol exceeding a 16% alc. content to be sold in a drugstore without even a prescription. Huge displays of expensive “medicinal and scientific whiskey” went in storefronts, sold for an average of 3$, a huge amount at the time.

So, after my research I can only assume that Jay organized some of these drugstore fronts, and this is how he made his fortune. Considering the great amount of alcohol described in the book, is this really such a far fetched idea? Also, do you agree with the banning of all alcohol? How about the strange ways people got around the law? Does this mean Gatsby’s fortune was fueled by liquor and greed?

Literature sources and pictures provided by:

http://seattle.eater.com/

http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=3343

A video game? What??

In core texts, The Great Gatsby on September 30, 2012 at 8:59 pm

The Great Gatsby video game helps us to better understand the different obstacles that Nick Carraway faces in the book and also how, even though the book is titled The Great Gatsby, it doesn’t always mean that the book centers around Jay Gatsby.

When playing the video game, your character is, in fact, Nick Carraway. Someone who has never heard of The Great Gatsby might be curious as to why they are playing a strange character named Nick instead of the character that’s named after the book and video game.

I think the video game puts a lot of emphasis on the fact that Jay Gatsby isn’t always the center of attention. All of the characters share an equal part in the problems that surround the book. For example: Daisy is having relationship problems because she doesn’t know who she wants so she continues to cheat with Gatsby. On top of that, her husband is already cheating on her which makes it worse. Another example would be that Daisy’s daughter gets neglected throughout the story because Daisy is never really there for her. She, more or less, just shows her off. The fact that her daughter barely ever gets mentioned is a whole new problem in a whole new category

Anyway, back to the video game. The different obstacles that Nick faces in the video game signify the different problems throughout the book. These problems include having to face different bosses and attacking the people that are in his way to finding Gatsby by throwing regular hats and gold hats at enemies.

Overall, by playing the video game, it gives a different way of seeing the issues and problems that Nick goes through throughout the book by also letting you interact with them at the same time. I think by doing that, it helps anyone who might be having trouble understanding Nick’s situation will get a different view and perspective on Nick’s troubles after playing the video game.

Who hates parties?

In core texts, The Great Gatsby on September 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm

The Members of the Lemay Family

Not very far from where we live, a party opened LeMay-America’s Car Museum in Tacoma. Hundreds of guests enjoyed an extravagant party dressed in The Great Gatsby’s era as “cigarette girls” and “gangster-style” men. Patti Payne from Puget Sound Business remarks that the party was just “enormous.” However, to me, it seemed more of a lavish event with too many decorations to just simply “impress” people.  Harold LeMay, the Guinness Book star for having the largest collection of cars in the world, held a huge “pre-opening bash” to congratulate his new LeMay-America’s Car Museum in Tacoma. Payne easily explains the magnificence of the party as she writes:

On the giant main level, which looks like the inside of an enormous wood-ribbed whale, guests munched on a sit-down dinner of prawns and steak, ala EL Gaucho. The hall is so big it gives off a strong illusion that the floor in slanted. “That’s the question of the night,” said one bartender. “Everyone is asking whether it is.” It isn’t.

However, the part that we have to focus here is not just the party’s extravagance. It’s the people’s attitude toward The Great Gatsby. Despite the book’s various scenes, people seemed to remember Gatsby’s enormous parties more than anything else. This shows how people usually remember the fancy and elaborate parts of the past. Likewise, to all the guests in Gatsby’s party, Gatsby is just a rich man who allowed them to enjoy music, food, and huge parties.

Another interesting part is the people’s unchanging affection for parties. Even in the past, parties served as a place for new relationships. This is the same for Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby as they start their friendship through a party. Fitzgerald also leads his readers to a deeper insight by reflecting Gatsby on his parties. Even though his parties are always enormous with lots of people, delicious food, and beautiful music, Gatsby stays as an outsider. Although he is the one who opens the party, nobody really cares who he really is. It can be further explained that Gatsby’s such loneliness reveals his significance in the book. Gatsby wants to be the main character in his life, but is more of an outsider. In order to become a person of a higher social status, he uses illegal methods to gain wealth. Similarly, he desired to be the only man to Daisy but eventually gets abandoned. He is a man who craves attention but lives lonely until the last moment.

After reading this article two questions came up to my mind: What did Fitzgerald really try to show the readers through the entangled parties around Gatsby? Are they supposed to make Gatsby a pitiful character? I guess this can have different answers depending on how the reader views Gatsby throughout the book.

Hanging Out With the Wrong Friends

In core texts, The Great Gatsby on September 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm

The eight men banned from Major League Baseball after they were found guilty of fixing the 1919 Word Series.

How do you know when you are not associating yourself with the right types of people? The people you are around can reflect what kind of a person you are. One of Jay Gatsby’s friends is Meyer Wolfsheim.
When Gatsby and Nick are heading into the city to have lunch with Gatsby’s friend, Meyer Wolfsheim, Gatsby tells Nick that Wolfsheim is the one who fixed the 1919 World Series.
This extraordinary event is described as “the most famous scandal in baseball history [in which] eight players from the Chicago White Sox, later nicknamed the Black Sox, were accused of throwing the series against the Cincinnati Reds” (chicagohs.org). This event was said to be so serious that the event stole the cover page of newspapers nationwide, and the eight players lost the privilege of playing in professional baseball for the rest of their lives.
Towards the end of The Great Gatsby, we find out that Jay Gatsby may have earned fortune through bootlegging. This really surprises me because I thought that Gatsby was an honest man who just happened to possess a sincere passion towards his early love, Daisy Buchanan. Because of my previous thought of Gatsby, I assumed that Gatsby no longer made money through organized crime.
Then, I thought back to the fact that one of Gatsby’s friends had been involved in a serious crime, one that is of a scale large enough to be on the front page of newspapers throughout the nation can be said to be very serious. Gatsby’s friend that is involved in illegal business can be used as evidence to show that Gatsby is not simply a man who wants his early love to be true, but an over ambitious man who will do whatever it takes to get his early girlfriend back. Also, the fact that Gatsby still meets Meyer Wolfsheim hints that Gatsby too may still be associated with unlawful acts, and he hasn’t been able to kick the bad habit.Although it may be similar to judging a book by its cover to judge someone by his friends, it is safe to say that Gatsby’s friends reflect his character.

Source: www.chicagohs.org/history/blacksox.html

Bring on the Bubbly

In core texts, The Great Gatsby on September 30, 2012 at 8:46 pm

There is a moment in Chapter Six when Nick is describing Gatsby’s past and he touches on an event where “Sometimes in the course of gay parties women used to rub champagne into his hair.” I was curious what effect champagne had on hair. Could this have been a way to show off wealth? Was it just for pleasure? Could this have been a strange fad during this time? Questions kept popping up in my head, so I googled them.

These are the instructions to create a champagne hair rinse according to RecipeGoldmine.com. Just be sure to ask permission before trying this out at home with the alcohol and all.

This is an old French secret for making hair shiny, silky, and healthy. If you have light-colored hair, it brings out the golden lights in it. It will not dry or damage the tresses.

1/2 cup old champagne
1/2 cup hot water

Mix; after shampooing and rinsing well, pour the mixture through the hair. DO NOT rinse again. You can use a conditioner before using the Champagne Hair Rinse if desired. The hair is left looking vital and lustrous, with pale champagne highlights.

 

This is a simple DIY hair treatment, yet the book is set during the time of prohibition, making any alcohol illegal. Though people, such as Gatsby, found ways around this either by home brewing or through the black-market. The use of champagne as a hair treatment, rather than an expensive drink for special occasions, is openly flaunting Gatsby’s wealth. Yet Gatsby doesn’t drink anything. It’s his guests who give him this hair treatment and help themselves to his generosity. He just supplies what they probably couldn’t otherwise get.

I feel that this is a way for Gatsby to fill a gap in his life. He doesn’t have Daisy, so he puts on these magnificent, indulgent parties to get her attention. This we know. Gatsby may also feel powerful and generous when he hosts parties, choosing what entertainment is provided and being one of the sole people to provide real alcohol. His guests rely on him for better social standing amongst others when they talk about his party. They even rely on him for a way to forget the realities of life, either through alcohol or by the freedom that they have at his parties. This intertwining of power and generosity may just be a quick emotional fix for his true troubles with Daisy.