For Starters, What is This Book About?
Personal Takeaways and Criticisms
Overall, I genuinely enjoyed reading "The Great Gatsby" and started to wonder why on Earth I did not read it sooner. Fitzgerald manages to highlight all the glitz and glamour of the Roaring 20s while highlighting the flip side of it being loneliness and despair. In the beginning of the book, the reader is caught in the fascination of Gatsby with his enormous home and lavish parties, but most of us empathize with Nick as this on-looker, not knowing the life of the rich and the possessions it brings, but can see its false security. By the end of the book, some of the life lessons, especially, "Money cannot buy happiness" starts to spring to mind and we can see Gatsby as an excellent example. Here was a man who developed an unhealthy obsession with the rich Daisy Buchanan and changed his own style of living to try and impress her, but in the end, she didn't even have the courtesy of attending his funeral and later stays with Tom. Nick had done the right thing by reflecting on whether staying in New York was a good idea or not and later chose to leave, realizing that he is not compatible with the environment.
Every good book is not without its criticisms. One thing that I felt could have used more elaboration was Gatsby's back story, such as, more insight into how he came to be this rich, as well as the back story for all of the other characters. While such background information may not have been discussed in the dialogue in the book, it still helps paints a portrait of who these characters are, which the reader could use to make judgment on which characters they can empathize with the best. In general, many of the details about each character was limited to the necessities for the duration of the story. Despite these two criticisms, I still very much enjoyed this book!
This Report is For a Leadership Course, So How Does it Connect to Leadership Topics?
To help with this, I will reference one of the books I have read for my course, titled, "Questions of Character" by Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr. One of the questions that Badaracco poses is, "Do I have a good dream?" and, immediately, I can see that Gatsby does not have a good dream. Good dreams are not supposed to possess you in such a way that it becomes toxic or lead you down a road you should not be down under. Gatsby built his riches in order to impress Daisy, but at a cost of death in the end and very little amount of people attending his funeral. Another question of character that Badaracco poses that I think ties into Gatsby perfectly is, "What is sound reflection?" It does not seem that Gatsby at one point sat down, reflected on what exactly he was doing with his life and wondered if it was really worth it. Is it logical to build up this life of riches for just one person with whom you are obsessed about the past with? Perhaps if Gatsby was poor, would Daisy still wish to be with him? These are all questions that Gatsby did not ask himself and allowed himself to become more toxic with this obsession of Daisy.
Go and read this book! There's a reason that "The Great Gatsby" is so popular as it is a book that even someone who does not like to read (yours truly) wanted to keep reading and was sad when the end was reached. This is also a book that I prefer over the movie. Happy reading!
Badaracco, Joseph L. (2006). "Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature." Boston, MA. Harvard Business School Press.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1925). "The Great Gatsby." New York, NY. Scribner.