Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Great Gatsby - A Review for Banned Books Week

Thursday is usually a day reserved for my "What I've Learned" series, so if you've come here looking for that, you'll have to wait until tomorrow.

In honor of Banned Books Week, Tahereh has set up a little blog tour where each blogger will post a review about one of their favorite banned books. (Click on the link above after you finish reading my review.) For me, the choice was easy. There is one book that if my high school decided to ban, I may not be the ravenous reader I am today. That book is The Great Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby The Great Gatsby (A&E)

The plot of the story is sort of straight forward. A man falls in love with a girl. He can't have the girl because he's not wealthy enough. In an effort to win her over, said man gets rich and moves to a town close to the woman. But alas, she is married with a child. What happens next is really what makes the story.

Gatsby pines for Daisy but doesn't do it in any ordinary way. He throws lavish parties hoping one day she'll come to one. You feel disappointed right along with him when she doesn't show. Gatsby is a character you root for, even though he's kind of shady.

The other amazing part of this book is the symbolism. I'm not sure I would have picked up on a lot of this if I'd read the book on my own, so this is another reason I'm grateful my school had it in its curriculum. Gatsby's hopes and dreams are realized in the form of a green light on the edge of Daisy's dock, The Valley of Ashes is a symbol of social decay, and the eyes. Let's not forget the Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckelberg. Are they God watching over these people's lives, or just a meaningless prop in the background?

Finally, I'll wrap up this post with some great quotations from the book:

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."

-Opening Lines

He had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced, or seemed to face, the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself.
- Nick describing Gatsby (chapter 3)

I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited - they went there.
-Chapter 3

What book got you into reading? Was it a banned or challenged book?


  1. I love this book--it's in my top 5. You know a book has made a profound effect on you when you start thinking about its symbolism at totally random times, 13 years after you first read it!

  2. I can't say I was a big Gatsby fan, but I did love the symbolism in the book :)