TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD AUDIO BOOK BY CHAPTER:
meritocracy: government or the holding of power by people selected on the basis of their ability. A ruling or influential class of educated or skilled people.
The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of race, class, gender, or nationality, can be successful in America (rich) if they just work hard enough.
misogyny: dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
xenophobia: intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.
ephemeral: lasting for a very short time.
personification: a person, animal, or object regarded as representing or embodying a quality or concept; a figure intended to represent an abstract quality. Ex. Daisy as the embodiment of the American Dream (a concept).
intimation: an indication or hint.
Alliteration is when words that start with the same sound are put next to each other.
So what do we make of the The Great Gatsby ending? Why is there so much death? Why doesn’t anyone get their just comeuppance? Why do Gatsby, Myrtle, and George Wilson die? Why does Daisy go back to Tom? Why does no one come to Gatsby’s funeral?
comeuppance: a punishment or fate that someone deserves.
Three ways to interpret how Fitzgerald wants us to take this idea that we are constantly stuck in a loop of pushing forward toward our future and being pulled back by our anchoring past.
If we go with the “heavy burden” meaning of the word “borne,” then this last line means that our past is an anchor and a weight on us no matter how hard we try to go forward in life. In this case, life only an illusion of forward progress. This is because as we move into the future, everything we do instantly turns into our past, and this past cannot be undone or done over, as Gatsby attempted.
This version of the ending says that people want to recapture an idealized past, or a perfect moment or memory, but when this desire for the past turns into an obsession, it leads to ruin, just as it lead to Gatsby’s. In other words, all of our dreams of the future are based on the fantasies of a past, and already outdated, self.
If, on the other hand, we stick with the “given birth to” aspect of “borne” and also on the active momentum of the phrase “so we beat on,” then the idea of beating on is an optimistic and unyielding response to a current that tries to force us backward. In this interpretation, we resiliently battle against fate with our will and our strength – and even though we are constantly pulled back into our past, we move forward as much as we can.
In the final version of the last line’s meaning, we take out the reader’s desire for a “moral” or some kind of explanatory takeaway (whether a happy or sad one). Without this qualitative judgment, this means that the metaphor of boats in the current is just a description of what life is like. In this way, the last line is simply saying that through our continuing efforts to move forward through new obstacles, we will be constantly reminded and confronted with our past because we can’t help but repeat our own history, both individually and collectively.
Activity in Color Symbolism; select a color and complete the activity below: