Throughout time readers of literature have identified or at least felt moved by the characters in the stories that they read. We can love them, pity them, hate them or identify with them depending on our lifestyles and choices as well as the lifestyles and a choices of the characters. We dont necessarily have to understand all of the characters lifestyle choices to like them nor do we have to identify with them on a personal level. It is the difference between empathy and sympathy(Fitzgerald PG). As the characters unfold however we do tend to hold them to a standard of easurement that mirrors what we believe to be good and bad.
We do judge the characters based on our own upbringing and belief and determine their likeability factor based on those standards. Our perception is often colored by our own life experiences and if the character reminds us of someone we know or have known we tend to mirror our feelings for that person onto the character in the book and feel accordingly. Often times in a book, just as in real life, we encounter people who may not live the life that we would choose for ourselves yet they are likeable all the same.
They may have personality traits that remind us of someone we have known and loved in the past, or we might be able to identify with one aspect of their personality while not understanding some other aspects. In the Great Gatsby we encounter Jay Gatsby. He is larger than life in many ways, and all alone in others. Each reader has to judge his actions and lifestyle by their own standard and measuring stick when deciding whether or not he should be admired. However, when it comes to the decision as to whether or not he is likeable the standards of society can also be considered.
Likeability and admiralty do not have to go hand in hand. A person can be likeable without having a lot of qualities that are admirable. A person can have traits that are fun to have around, or easy to get along with. This does not mean the person necessarily has the qualities that we want to emulate in other life areas. Such is the case of Jay Gatsby. He was extremely likeable by the social standards of society at that time, however, whether or not he was an admirable man is another story all together. As we unfold the secrets of Gatsbys past and present in the book we see the man underneath the bluff and low.
Even though Jay Gatsby was involved in illegal activities people still view him as a likeable character. As we read the story of The Great Gatsby we of course will form our own opinions about Jay Gatsby. There is enough information provided as his story unfolds that few readers would have to be confused. However, in addition to the unfolding of the story that we judge by our own personal standards we have the assistance and opinions of others along the way to verbalize our thoughts. The character Wolfshiem said one of the most interesting things said about Gatsby in the book.
He said that Gatsby was a erson you could take home to your mother(Fitzgerald PG). One of the most important sayings in the world when it comes to the likeability of a person is the idea that the person can indeed be taken home to ones mother. Mothers in America are held in nothing but the highest regard. We want to please our mothers and from the time we are small we are aware that there are certain types of people we did not bring home for our mothers to meet. The saying has evolved over the years to the point that it is a well-understood and well-accepted phrase(Fitzgerald PG).
When Wolfshiem makes the comment it causes he reader to stop and pause for a second and reflect on whether or not he would bring Gatsby home to meet his mother. For most readers the answer is a resounding yes. There were many things about Gatsby that made him the type of person one would take home to meet their mother. Regardless of his business dealings he always maintained a high sense of properness and always displayed impeccable manners as well as many other qualities that our mothers raised us to seek out and admire in our friends.
Gatsby showed us again and again throughout the story that he is indeed the type of person that our mother ould approve of on the surface without knowing about his underhanded dealings in the back. One of the first examples we have of this ability to charm and be accepted by mothers is the fact that he presented and extended formal invitations to Nick and others to come to his house for social gatherings. Gatsby was always one to provide a party or a social luncheon when he wanted people to meet. The second time we understand his sense of proper manners is when he sees Daisy(Fitzgerald PG).
He does not rush right in and blunder his way through, he goes through proper channels and asks Nick to set up a meeting. Nick refuses and Gatsby again shows his perfect understanding of social graces and manners when he does not get angry and accepts Nicks refusal. However, he also finds a way to get to her and accepts an invitation extended by her himself. It is examples like this that are throughout the book that cause us to understand that Gatsby can be a likeable character without being someone we admire.
Some of the qualities that we like about Gatsby are qualities that were in fact deeply ingrained in us through our mothers. We are drawn to his polite manners and good ideas. He does not abuse people yet he does know how to ontrol a situation so that he does not have to lose his sense of power or importance. It is what a mother likes about having us be friends with important politicians and doctors. They enjoy having us know those who have a certain amount of power.
It makes our moms feel that we have arrived and have been accepted by the crme de la crme of society. Therefore Gatsbys ability to maintain control and power in any given situation makes him the type of man that we could indeed bring home to meet our mothers. The biggest reason Gatsby was the type of person we could bring home to meet our mothers is the polite understanding f societys rules that he displayed at all times. Whether Gatsby was entertaining in his home, out with friends or seeing Daisy he never stopped being a polite and chivalrous man.
This would go a long way in any social setting. The world is becoming a very impersonal place and as time marches on we are discovering that manners seem to be forgotten. Gatsby continued to display manners in everything he did(Fitzgerald PG). Gatsby showed the most important strength of his character near the end of the book . Before this big event he displayed many instances of being a decent human being, when he entertained and when he old the embellished story of his past to Nick.
However, it was near the end of the book that we see the true strength and character of Jay Gatsby. He offers, actually he insists, on lying and saying he was driving the car that killed Murtle. He was not driving, as we know, Daisy was. However, Gatsby, who was a gentleman from the moment he opened his eyes in the morning to the time he fell asleep at night did what he considered the right thing and offered to take the fall for the woman that he loved. This is a true testament to the strength that he truly had within his making and soul(Fitzgerald PG).