The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby Chapter 1 Quotes
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Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth. (1.3)
Here, Nick says that money isn't the only thing that some people are born to. Some people are naturally just nicer and more honest: they have more "sense of the fundamental decencies." But does Nick believe that poor people can be born with these fundamental decencies, too, or do you have to be rich to have natural class?
When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction—Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. (1.4)
Gatsby may be low-class, but Nick still manages to see something good in him, anyway. Maybe he has the "natural decencies" that other members of high society don't. Except, we think this might be a little like the, "but I have a lot of ______ friends" excuse to make someone not sound racist or xenophobic.)
I lived at West Egg, the – well, the least fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them. My house was at the very tip of the egg, only fifty yards from the Sound, and squeezed between two huge places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season. The one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard … My own house was an eyesore, but it was a small eyesore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor's lawn, and the consoling proximity of millionaires—all for eighty dollars a month. (1.14)
It may be a small house, but at least Nick gets to live near millionaires. He's joking, but this is the same logic that makes people buy designer sunglasses: you may not be able to afford the actual clothes, but you still get to have a little reflected glamour. Hey, no judgment here.