Saturday, December 03, 2005

Chapter 3: Quote Analysis

"It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced -- or seemed to face -- the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey." (48)

The first description of Gatsby by Nick is Gatsby's smile. Nick says that Gatsby's smile is rare in that it assures whomever he smiles at. And when he smiles at you, you have been chosen out of the entire world. Nick says "seemed to face" because of all the gossip he had heard about Gatsby. He still can't trust Gatsby completely. Nick never talks about the smile assuring himself, though. He's saying that the smile will reassure you, that it will reflect the best view of yourself. This shows that the smile hasn't done that for Nick. And this is true because Nick doesn't speak about the best view of himself in later passages. Nick also mentions limits that the smile takes with it. The smile would stop understanding you when you wanted it to stop. It would only assure your best view if you were optimistic. The only thing that does not have its limits is believing in one's self.


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