I'm reading The Great Gatsby and I need some help.
In the opening chapter, Nick says that if personality was a series of unbroken gestures, Gatsby was it.
How is it personality is a series of unbroken gestures? "Personality" in this context means: 1. The totality of qualities and traits, or 2. a person of considerable prominence?
Preferably someone could give me some examples of personality and unbroken gestures.
Thank you very, very much.
-personality as unbroken gestures
See if this makes sense to you:
-As your definition of "unbroken", try American. Heritage Dict., def. 3: "uninterrupted, continuous".
An EXAMPLE of "personality as a series of unbroken gestures":
Any great athlete. Pick your favorite. They act without interruption or hesitation -- with certainty -- with a flowing, uninterrupted power. This is an aspect of their personality, and it makes them a personality (person of prominence).
Hope that helps.
Actually, I don't know what Fitzgerald makes Nick say, either. "A series of unbroken gestures"? What is that supposed to mean?
A series of gestures with no pauses in between.
I don't think that sentence is supposed to be taken literally. Perhaps if you posted a little bit more of the context, we could decode it for you.
I would assume the definition of "personality" in this sentence would be #1, "The totality of qualities and traits".
Thanks very much, guys. Sarah, I guess I understand it better after your explaination; I think it implys that regular people don't have that kind of continuous, unwavering determination toward their goals while Gatsby does.
Forgive me for bothering you so much, but Fitzgerald used some expressions in chapter one I think are uncommon so I have to make wild guesses and need confiormation from you. I've been through with Chapter two, three and four which don't seem to be very difficult to me, but here is another passage in chapter one and my guesswork, could you take a look? Much appreciated.
-----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.”
He didn’t say any more, but we’ve always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were unsought—frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. 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 parcelled out unequally at birth.-----
My guesses are: 1. a verteran bore is someone very boring, and veteran means "very". 2. Nick got to know secrets of people who are wild and whom he didn't even know because somehow people confided to him. 3.When he sometimes forgot about his own moral superiority he would reserve his judgements because he was afraid of missing something.
Sorry my posting is very long.
Thanks; I didn't see your reply when I posted the long one just now. OK, I'll try give you more context later.
I think he is saying that
1) He was told by his father not to be too quick to criticize others, because they may not have had the same favorable background that he had.
2) His acquired tendency not to judge quickly is seen by certain bizarre people as acceptance, and so they tend to feel attracted to him and tend to confide in him, even though he doesn't try to get them to do this.
3) He was afraid of missing something IF he FORGOT that people do not have equal advantages, and so he tried hard to practice what his father suggested.
I'm not a great fan of literature, however.
Thanks, Mxsmanic. Your interpretation makes more sense than mine.
Right after the excerpts I posted above come these:
And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes, but after a certain point I don't care what it's founded on. 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. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament." ?it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No ?Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
Thanks very much.
<<If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament." ?it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.>>
That is a tough one, and not one that I have ever seen used before, which is as I suspected : the author is using a bit of poetic license in his wording. It has little literal meaning, but is evocative, and he explains what he means by it in the rest of the paragraph: "an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness"
Thank you, Uriel. I'm reading the rest. Guess he intends it to be a little confusing.
Well, remember that this book is from an earlier era and writing styles have changed quite a bit since the beginning of the 20th century -- they tended to be a lot more "flowery" back then.
He may have meant gestures in the sense of actions directed towards others (as opposed to mere gesticulation). But I confess that I really don't follow what the author is talking about here. I can see why Hemingway became more popular.