Friday, March 22, 2013

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

I wrote about The Great Gatsby not long ago, so I won't rehash the plot or my thoughts on the book, except to say that I think I like it more each time that I read it.

This time it was for a book discussion at work as part of my library's Gatsby Month. It's a like a mini Community Read that we planned in anticipation of the new Great Gatsby movie, back when it was scheduled for release in April (it has been since pushed back to June.) We had a number of events, including a party with a live jazz band and dance instructor who taught us all to charleston.

As it turned out, nobody came to my book discussion. It was just hours before a snowstorm was supposed to start, so I can only assume everyone was in line buying bread and toilet paper. But in my preparations I noticed something that didn't stand out to me in my previous readings, but which I now am rather fixated on. It's this funny little passage that just comes just after Nick and Mr. McKee left a party:

"...I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands. 'Beauty and the Beast...Loneliness...Old Grocery Horse...Brook'n Bridge...' Then I was lying half asleep in the cold lower level of the Pennsylvania Station, staring at the morning Tribune, and waiting for the four o'clock train."

What do you make of that? I remember encountering it last time I read the book, but I wasn't sure what was going on and just went past it. This time, it seemed obvious that he slept with Mr. McKee. After considering it a bit, I did what anyone would do and Googled it. I found this recent article, which according to some of the comments is not news at all because everyone KNEW that Nick was gay. Unless you listen to the other commenters who say that it's a ridiculous misreading and anyway F. Scott Fitzgerald was totally homophobic.

But Fitzgerald also isn't especially wordy, so I wouldn't think he'd include anything that wasn't important or that he didn't especially want us to know.  That passage had to mean something, and what else could it mean? On the other hand, why do we even need to know if Nick had sexytimes with McKee? The book isn't even about you, Nick Carraway.

I've never read The Great Gatsby for a class (just for an independent project in high school) so I haven't discussed it much with other people. What do you all think about that passage? If it's not indicating a romantic encounter between the two men, then what does it mean? Everything else in this book is so straightforward, making that part especially baffling!

7 comments:

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I've only read this once and totally missed the Nick is gay reading. I do plan to reread it though.
At the moment, Tender is the Night is my favourite Fitzgerald.

3goodrats said...

Tender is the Night was always next on my list (I think I even own a copy of it somewhere) but I keep re-reading Gatsby instead. One of these days...

Icy Daylight said...

I hadn't seen that Salon article before, and despite having read Gatsby, what, five times?, it hadn't occurred to me. Come to the discussion on Wednesday and we can talk more about it ;-)

3goodrats said...

I may just!

Kevin said...

I totally missed the possibility of Nick being gay or bi.

3goodrats said...

I did too until my THIRD reading of the book. Now I don't know how I missed it before.

Suzanne said...

I also missed that. Interesting! No, I doubt it could mean anything else. Especially in an otherwise straightforwardly told tale.