"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

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  • "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
    • AO2
      • Fitzgerald seems to admire this quality of "beating on against the current", an optimistic life-force that at compels us, against all evidence, to battle our fate with sheer will.
      • Of course, Nick muses, that the battle is lost long before it is fought. But ignoring that fatalism is a better way to live and more noble at that.
      • the significance and importance of our past ultimately defines our dreams of the future, yet we're inherently tied to the past and cannot transform our dreams to reality.
    • AO3
      • The American Dream is about upward mobility, which is also forward mobility.
      • The novel's final line also reflects America as it emerges victorious from the war, leaping into frenetic energy of the Jazz Age.
      • It is the youngest of nations, convinced that change can be achieved through sheer energy, determination, and youthful innovation.
        • Fitzgerald understood the futility of this vision and famously noted that 'there are no second acts in American lives.' The concept is not uniquely American, but it fits the country's cultural makeup and is applicable at any point in its history, if most appropriate for this particular time.
    • AO4
      • This is tragic because everything Gatsby has accomplished in life will inevitably be forgotten: he has nobody, besides Nick to carry his legacy on. Tragically, this hope of his legacy is what drives Gatsby, even though its just an illusion
    • AO5
      • This adequately sums up the Human Condition: each of us pushes on with our daily efforts, be they grand or trivial, despite knowing that our existence and actions will be forgotten and erased by the passage of time.
      • it expresses the futility of fighting against the current of life as well as the realization that we all obviously do and will continue to. We'll beat on, trying to alleviate the human condition through accumulation of money, wealth, power, the American dream, our old loves, but ultimately history and mortality repeat themselves: we die.
    • AO1
      • all the characters are haunted by pasts in one way or another
        • GATSBY: "I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before," he said, nodding determinedly. "She'll see."
        • Gatsby is haunted by his past just as Nick is haunted by his. Nick's past is the entire novel, which is told in past tense, after Nick has left the East.
      • each of the main characters falls prey to the illusion of evolution to some extent
        • Tom with his cheap Myrtle Wilson affair
        • Daisy with Gatsby and air-headed proclamations
        • Nick with his detached observations and assumed moral superiority


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