Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Honestly, I thought this was one of Tyson's worst interpretations so far. It provided no insight as to how to interpret a piece of literature through an African American lens, and instead devoted multiple pages describing how amazing of a place Harlem was at the time The Great Gatsby was written. Lines such as, "By the early 1920s, the automobile had become the new machine that everyone wanted" (Tyson-400) simply exist to put a date on the events in the book, and yet this sort of information constitutes a solid chunk of the reading. Through this reading, Tyson is also simply pointing out something that should be obvious: the characters in The Great Gatsby are very, very racist. Tom specifically says, "The idea is if we don’t look out the white race— will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved" (Fitzgerald-18). It shouldn't be surprising that Nick doesn't mention Harlem, the characters don't visit Harlem because they do not enjoy African Americans, they are afraid of them. While many upper class members did enjoy Harlem night clubs, there were also many that had negative feeling towards them, which is what Fitzgerald writes in his "representative American novel of the Jazz age" (Tyson-396). Fitzgerald chose to represent this feeling in his novel, possibly because he was racist, but not decidedly.

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