Chapter 6-5: You Can’t Repeat the Past
Aim: In this 30-minute lesson, you will go over the part 6-5 of the book. Go over comprehension questions after each paragraph, and practice using new expressions.
After saying hello, read the following part of the book out loud with the tutor.
Her glance left me and sought the lighted top of the steps where “Three o’clock in the Morning,” a neat, sad little waltz of that year, was drifting out the open door. After all, in the very casualness of Gatsby’s party there were romantic possibilities totally absent from her world. What was it up there in the song that seemed to be calling her back inside? What would happen now in the dim incalculable hours? Perhaps some unbelievable guest would arrive, a person infinitely rare and to be marveled at, some authentically radiant young girl who with one fresh glance at Gatsby, one moment of magical encounter, would blot out those five years of unwavering devotion.
I stayed late that night. Gatsby asked me to wait until he was free and I lingered in the garden until the inevitable swimming party had run up, chilled and exalted, from the black beach, until the lights were extinguished in the guest rooms overhead. When he came down the steps at last the tanned skin was drawn unusually tight on his face, and his eyes were bright and tired.
“She didn’t like it,” he said immediately.
“Of course she did.”
“She didn’t like it,” he insisted. “She didn’t have a good time.”
He was silent and I guessed at his unutterable depression.
“I feel far away from her,” he said. “It’s hard to make her understand.”
“You mean about the dance?”
“The dance?” He dismissed all the dances he had given with a snap of his fingers. “Old sport, the dance is unimportant.”
Why does Nick say that ‘[Gatsby] dismissed all the dances he had]?
He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: “I never loved you.” After she had obliterated three years with that sentence they could decide upon the more practical measures to be taken. One of them was that, after she was free, they were to go back to Louisville and be married from her house–just as if it were five years ago.
What does Gatsby want from Daisy?
“And she doesn’t understand,” he said. “She used to be able to understand. We’d sit for hours—-“
He broke off and began to walk up and down a desolate path of fruit rinds and discarded favors and crushed flowers.
“I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I ventured. “You can’t repeat the past.”
“Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!”
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
“I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,” he said, nodding determinedly. “She’ll see.” He talked a lot about the past and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was. . . .
Why do you think Gatsby so fixated on his past?
. . . One autumn night, five years before, they had been walking down the street when the leaves were falling, and they came to a place where there were no trees and the sidewalk was white with moonlight. They stopped here and turned toward each other. Now it was a cool night with that mysterious excitement in it which comes at the two changes of the year. The quiet lights in the houses were humming out into the darkness and there was a stir and bustle among the stars. Out of the corner of his eye Gatsby saw that the blocks of the sidewalk really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees–he could climb to it, if he climbed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder.
Describe Gatsby’s story five years ago in your own words. How does it relate to the American dream?
His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.
Gatsby describe the moment he falls in love with Daisy. Explain the way he describes the moment.
Through all he said, even through his appalling sentimentality, I was time ago. For a moment a phrase tried to take shape in my mouth and my lips parted like a dumb man’s, as though there was more struggling upon them than a wisp of startled air. But they made no sound and what I had almost remembered was uncommunicable forever.
- What is Nick’s view if repeating the past, and what us Gatsby’s opinion? Why is Gatsby’s opinion unrealistic?
- Compare Jay Gatsby to the American dream.
- Do you think it is possible to fix the mistakes made in the past? Share your thoughts with your Cambly tutor!
Do you understand the following words and expressions? Practice using the new words or expressions with the Cambly tutor.