Monday, April 29, 2013

The Critical Theorist Within

Aidan Villani-Holland
Christie Beveridge
Language Arts II: Critical Theory
The Critical Theorist Within
            We have found the critical theorist within Lois Tyson! In the “Post Colonial Theory section of Critical Theory Today, Lois Tyson describes how The Great Gatsby relates to post colonial theory. In my opinion this is the strongest reading of Gatsby that we’ve seen in this book. In my opinion, though she poses valid points about Gatsby and Tom later in the chapter, by far the strongest points are near the beginning where she proves that, despite his easy-going attitude and general likeableness, Nick Caraway indeed practices a colonial mindset.
            On page 435, Tyson writes, “For example, the woman he has hired to keep his house and cook his breakfast, whom he sees every day, is referred to six different times and always by such appellations as ‘My Finn’(88; ch.5) and ‘the Finn’ (89; ch. 5). Her language consists of ‘muttering Finnish wisdom to herself over the electric stove’ (8; ch. 1) and even her walk – ‘the Finnish tread’” Here, Tyson presents overwhelming evidence of Nick’s colonial way of thinking through defining his housekeeper simply by her nationality and by defining everything she does as “Finnish” in some way.
            Later on the same page, Tyson writes, “Nick introduces Wolfsheim to us as a “small flat-nosed jew” (75; ch.4), and we are told very little else about his appearance except for his nose.” Here, Tyson again shows Nick’s colonial thought process by the fact that he not only describes Wolfsheim only by his nose, but he also describes his nose as, “jewish.” Nick also continues to describe Wolfsheim’s nose throughout the book, thus proving that that is the main aspect he thinks about, and backing up Tyson’s point.
            Finally, on page 436, Tyson writes about a scene where Gatsby describes African Americans in a limousine, “He describes them as ‘two bucks and a girl’ and says, ‘I laughed aloud as the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry.” Here, Nick further proves Tyson’s point by describing black people like animals. This scene is the best example of Nick’s “othering,” as he puts the black men below himself by comparing them to animals.
            There were no parts of this section that were weak, but by far the strongest point was when she refers to Nick. Tyson is finishing strong with this section.

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