The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby Chapter 1 Quotes
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Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I decided to call to him. Miss Baker had mentioned him at dinner, and that would do for an introduction. But I didn't call to him, for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone—he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness. (1.152)
We never see Gatsby's version of America directly; we just get glimpses of it through Nick's narrative and through ephemera like his childhood notebook. But, judging from the way he's staring across the water, Gatsby has a pretty spectacular vision.
"Meyer Wolfsheim? No, he's a gambler." Gatsby hesitated, then added coolly: "He's the man who fixed the World's Series back in 1919."
"Fixed the World's Series?" I repeated. […] "Why isn't he in jail?"
"They can't get him, old sport. He's a smart man." (112-118)
This New America may not have room for pure-hearted dreamers like Gatsby, but it certainly does have room for corrupt, smarty-pants criminals like Meyer Wolfsheim.
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." (1.1-3)
It's a lot easier to be morally upright when you're not pinching and scraping to make a living… which makes the immorality of the wealthy even more unforgivable. Every advantage in the world, and they can't even be nice people? Nick may forgive them, but we're not sure we do.