“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (Fitzgerald 180). Through this one quote, F. Scott Fitzgerald is able to express the idea of people trying to move forward while being stuck in the past. In the beginning, Gatsby is a man of many rumors: he is murderer, a German spy, or even a relative of the Kaiser. What is not immediately exposed is the fact that Gatsby is blinded by love and is willing to do anything in order to reconnect with those feelings—including reinventing himself. With the idea of reinvention, Gatsby is stuck in his own illusion and is not able to escape the idea of reliving a time that is already gone. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald delays the full character development of the mysterious Jay Gatsby in order to emphasize the revelation of his true nature—a man with an admirably strong belief of being able to recreate what has already passed; similar to society being stuck in the past rather instead of living in the present, which is what Fitzgerald wanted to display.
Through the viewpoint of the narrator, Nick Carraway, Gatsby goes from being an unknown figure, to a great, yet mysterious first impression. This impression is crucial to the development of Gatsby’s character because it is a hint as to what Gatsby is really like. Gatsby had “one of those rare smiles” that seemed to “[believe] in you as you would like to believe in yourself” (Fitzgerald 48). Through the image of Gatsby’s smile, Fitzgerald is able to show the readers Gatsby’s welcoming and charming personality, which also conveys Gatsby’s worthiness. Despite the rumors of who Gatsby seems to be, Nick Carraway is finally able to observe who this man really is, and what distinguishes him from the rest. Fitzgerald creates this scene to also help the reader get their first idea of the “Great Gatsby.”
Once acquainted with Nick Carraway, Gatsby begins to tell his story, however it results in complete absurdity. Gatsby did attend Oxford shortly, but this is the most truthful thing he says. “Gatsby begins with an element of truth and then gives way to total distortion” (Lehan 85). Gatsby is unable to keep up with his own exaggerated story, even though he has rehearsed it many times. “Gatsby recites for Nick the essential self that he has created,” which is much too fake for Nick to even consider believing (Lehan 85). This entire scene is where the insight of the reinvention of Gatsby begins. Why does he want everyone to believe this story, what is he covering up, who is the original Gatsby? At this point, Gatsby’s character and motives begins to be questionable, because of his inability to tell the truth. Gatsby’s mysterious past has still not been revealed, but his mysterious need to hide it has.
It is not until Nick...