Significant Connections – 1.8

“People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” A quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher and poet from the late 1800s. His quote shows the idea of people changing their entire personality or lifestyle in order to gain respect or something they find important from others that they may see as superior to them. They believe so strongly in what they are doing that they get caught up in their own illusion and it becomes a reality for them.  This is shown in the texts by certain characters such as Jay Gatsby in ‘The Great Gatsby,’ written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Skepta in ‘That’s Not Me,’ a song by Skepta himself, Darnell from ‘Get Hard’ directed by Etan Cohen, and also the landlady from ‘The Landlady’ by Road Dahl. All of these characters in the texts are faced with some sort of illusion in some way and what i will be discussing in this text is how they feel or face up against their illusions and how they pursue their goal that their illusion is created by. 

Firstly, Jay Gatsby from the novel ‘The Great Gatsby,’ written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Gatsby shows illusion all throughout the entire text and is actually so caught up in his own illusion he refuses to believe that it isn’t a reality. In the story, an incredibly poor, young man named James Gatz creates an ideal version of himself called Jay Gatsby. Jay Gatsby is an immensely wealthy man who lives in the West Egg of Long Island, New York. The reason for the creating of this illusion of himself is his plan to get back the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan of East Egg. Gatz is so caught up in his pursuit of Daisy that he doesn’t actually believe that he’s living a fake life. “‘Can’t repeat the past?'” he cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can.'” The stories narrator, Nick Carraway believes that Gatsby relies on “the colossal vitality of his illusion.” When he says this it tells the reader that Gatsby lives off the life of his ideal self and without him he would be nothing, and Daisy wouldn’t be interested in him at all. He has devoted most of his life to his goal and has put so much effort into it that he refuses to take no as an answer. This relates to the main theme, as Gatz uses the illusion that he is rich to get Daisy back because he believes that having money is what she wants in the man she is going to love, he uses his illusion to regain something that is incredibly important to him.

Secondly, Skepta’s hit song ‘That’s Not Me.’ Skepta is a British grime rapper who immigrated from Nigeria to London. He started with humble beginnings but is now living the high life, travelling across the globe performing his music to his millions of fans. His hit song ‘That’s Not Me’ is him talking about and trying to get the message across that you don’t have to wear designer brands, drive expensive cars and have heaps of model ‘side chicks’ to be respected in the industry that he is in, because many artists go out of their way by spending thousands of dollars on clothes and cars and get with attractive woman they may not even particularly like just to get respected and look cool. Skepta’s past is full of this type of activity but in the song he explains how he came to his senses and how he decided that he would rather be himself. In the chorus of the song he says “Yeah, I used to wear Gucci , I put it all in the bin cause that’s not me. True, I used to look like you, but dressing like a mess? Nah, that’s not me.” Gucci is a designer brand that is well known for having really high quality, super expensive clothes that to many people may not be seen as stylish but in fact quite weird looking. He says that he used to wear expensive brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and BAPE to look cool when he really would rather wear what he thinks is fashionable. He “threw it in the bin” because he no longer wanted to act as though he was someone else trying to impress everyone that he follows and who follow him in the industry. “You’ll never see me smoking a cigarette, cah cigarette smoker, that’s not me” This also shows that when he was acting as an illusion of himself that he may have been peer-pressured into things he didn’t want to do such as smoking or even doing drugs, which is really common over the world at the moment. What he really wants to be doing is make good music for his fans to enjoy. “There’ll never be a day when i don’t make music ’cause silent? Nah, that’s not me.” This relates to my first text, ‘The Great Gatsby’ with Jay Gatsby because both characters are trying to impress other people by going out of their way with money. Gatsby illegally made money in order to lure Daisy back into his grasp while Skepta, back in his past used money in order to lure in publicity and fans. This relates to the main theme of, changing your personality in order to gain respect or something strongly desired even though it’s not a reality.

My third text is ‘Get Hard,’ a 2015 movie set in California, USA directed by Etan Cohen. This movies involves an extremely wealthy hedge fund manager, James King be sentenced to prison, with 30 days given to him to get his affairs in order. James comes to know Darnell Lewis, a black man that cleans cars for a living who is looking to make some money in order to move out of the small neighbourhood he lives in and get his daughter better education. James mistakes Darnell as a thug in quite a racist way and assumes that he has been to prison himself. “Teach me how to survive in prison, the way you did!” “Tell me how you know I went to prison?” “Given your low economic status, your perceived lack of college education… statistically, you definitely went to prison!” Darnell has never even been given a parking ticket, but he decides to play along in the act in order to make some money off of it. “What reason did you give to him, to assume you went to jail?” “I was being black!” “You’re not exactly a thug, Darnell!” An illusion is shown in the character of Darnell because he is putting on an act that he lives a lifestyle he actually doesn’t in reality. James is only able to see the illusion of who Darnell is. He sees Darnell as a thuggish, criminal who lives in a gang house, when really he lives in a tidy house with a nicely kept garden with his wife and daughter. Much like Skepta, Darnell has created a different version of himself in order to gain respect from his superiors. Darnell created his illusion to make some quick and easy money, while Skepta created his illusion to gain publicity for his music, which ultimately would result in him making more money, while neither character was really in their own ideal environment for what they were trying to achieve. The theme again continues through this text, as Darnell has changed his personality, by doing something he really doesn’t want to be doing, just to make an easy, yet substantial amount of money. 

Lastly, the landlady from Roald Dahl’s short story, ‘The Landlady.’ The story is about a 17-year-old boy named Billy Weaver. He is visiting the city of Bath for the first time and is looking for a cheap place to stay. He never knew anyone who lived there so he was looking for a hotel, in the dark, in a place he had never been to before. On his way to ‘The Bell and Dragon’ hotel which he was told was nearby, Billy stumbled across a small cozy looking ‘Bed and Breakfast’ which was “brilliantly illuminated” making it look really inviting between all the old houses that you “could see the paint was peeling from the woodwork on their doors and windows,” making this small bed and breakfast look even nicer of a place to stay at. Billy thought “certainly it would be more comfortable than The Bell and Dragon.” So he rang the bell and was greeted by a middle aged woman who “gave him a warm, welcoming smile.” What Billy sees at this point in the story is a really nice woman, the landlady, who is kindly offering her home to him just as an act of kindness. As the story goes on, Billy comes to find himself in a different situation to what he thought he was in for when he was pleasantly welcomed in.  The landlady isn’t who she initially appeared to be, Billy later describes her  “to be slightly off her rocker.” The reader learns that the landlady is actually a murderer who keeps her victims bodies in her house. She purposely creates an illusion that she is just a kind woman with a goal of giving back to younger people in the community, but she just uses this to lure the innocent young men in. She is really a sick woman who is just trying to kill these young men and keep the bodies in the upstairs of her, what was thought to be “decent house.” This illusion is similar to the illusion shown in ‘Get Hard,’ with Darnell. Darnell is trying to act as though he is something he isn’t in an effort to lure James’ money in and take it before he realises that Darnell isn’t what he says he is. The landlady is similar as she is creating an illusion of herself in order to lure in the young boys and take their lives just before they realise she isn’t who she seems to be.  The similar theme in the two texts is that both characters are trying to lure in something by using an illusion of themselves, which follows the main theme of changing your personality in order to gain something out of it.

To conclude, the texts ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, ‘That’s Not Me’ by Skepta, ‘Get Hard,’ directed by Ethan Cohen, and ‘The Landlady,’ written by Roald Dahl, all show the reader an idea of illusion in a character. They all help to show me the idea of how people love and desire something so much that they get to the point where they are so desperate they end up changing their whole identity and lifestyle. It also shows that you don’t always have to be what people want you to be rather than what you want to be, because it doesn’t necessarily determine how much people will like you and your unique identity. “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”

 

Speech: Le Tour de France and Drug Cheating

“To change the man that did those things, maybe not the decision, but the way he acted. It was unacceptable, inexcusable. He was an asshole.” Lance Armstrong, just one of hundreds caught using banned substances to boost their performance in ‘Le Tour de France,’ an annual 23-day-long road cycling race that has been running for over 100 years. It is one of the most notorious professional sports events for athletes using performance enhancing drugs such as EPO,  testosterone, nandrolone and many, various other illegal drugs and practices.

Over the years, an illusion has been created in Le Tour de France. This illusion being that when you look at the peloton of riders, you see it is filled with amazing athletes with incredible strength and endurance, when really who actually is in that peloton is a deceiving version of a rider who wouldn’t be in the position or at such a high level if it wasn’t for the use of the many drugs or steroids they are taking.

Road-cycling the monstrous mountains of France for 23 days in a row would be quite the lung buster, especially when you’re coming up against the best cyclists and teams of athletes in the world, who can ride over 200km in just 4 hours. To put that in perspective, thats like riding your bike over the Crown Range to Queenstown and back, averaging a speed of 50 km/h. If you were in that situation, don’t you think it would cross your mind to cheat in order to beat everyone else at some time? For many of the competitors in Le Tour de France over the years it certainly has, and too many actually go through with it and do cheat, by using performance enhancing drugs, and quite frankly, ruining professional sport.

On the list of sports with the most drug users, road cycling is right at the very top, with 3.7% of cyclists at amateur, semi-professional and professional levels caught. This may not sound like very much but once you get to professional levels it increases drastically. For example, over the seven-year span from 1999 to 2005, 87% of the top ten finishers in the Tour de France over those years were caught doping, thats 61 out of 70 riders. How would you feel if you were one of those other 9 riders who was genuinely riding, trying to win, but with no chance because everyone else has unnaturally made their bodies have a much better aerobic respiration system and has taken away the problem of fatigue as they have taken away their bodies anaerobic ability to produce lactic acid. Those riders would’ve almost definitely taken out the win if the other cheating riders didn’t decide to ruin everyone else’s chances and create an uneven playing field.

One of those riders, who is now probably now more famous for cheating than what he actually achieved when he was riding is Lance Armstrong. He went from being someone that parents told their kids to aspire to be like, to someone that parents tell their kids that they’ll disown if they ever do anything like what he did. However, earlier in his career he was seen as quite the hero, and rightly so. Over the years from 1999 to 2005, Lance won 7-consecutive Le Tour de France titles, which is the most in the tours history. This streak starting just two years after going through aggressive chemotherapy for testicular cancer. For the next seven years he was a labelled as a legendary athlete who defied the odds. His glory lasted for 7 years, up until 2012, when he admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he was using EPO throughout what was thought to be an illustrious career. He was immediately stripped of all 7 of his titles and an Olympic bronze medal that he won in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics. But what is probably the worst thing is that he lost all his sponsors which included huge brands such as Nike, Trek Bicycles and Oakley which were paying him over $20 million US in endorsements even after he retired. After other professional cyclists saw the scandal with the money he lost and the millions of ex-fans giving hatred towards him and what he got taken away from him you would think they’d decide to never go down the path of doping, but you’d be wrong. Still athletes, not just cycling are still frequently getting caught all over the world for it and therefore ruining their careers, reputations and also giving themselves long term health problems. Although, most athletes are only dealt a 2-year ban from professional sports meets after being caught, which is virtually granting them a second chance. Which is not fair to anyone else that is true to the rules of the sport and is happy to compete on an even playing field.

So as you can see, the temptation of cheating is certainly high but how it affects you and everyone else around you should be the deciding factor in making the decision not to do it, because if you do, you may end your career much like Lance Armstrong, an athlete that is now hated and left with nothing, but did actually have the potential to be really good at what he did. And to the many athletes who still compete after being caught using doping drugs, consider yourselves lucky, because your career should have ended the moment you were caught cheating and discovered to have been ruining the careers of true athletes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Gatsby – Planning Grid: Setting

Describe at least one important place in the written text.

Explain how that place helped you to understand an important message in the text.

 

Setting Important Message Evidence x2
Valley of Ashes Failed American Dream “About half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”

 

 

East Egg & West Egg Represents ‘old money’ meaning the people that live here have had their wealth for a long time. They were born into wealthy families and never had to work hard to make themselves a living.
Manhattan People trying to make wealth, and the quest to make riches and get pleasure.

Introduction:

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”  ‘The Great Gatsby,’ a 1925 novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Nick Carraway, the stories narrator tells the story of Jay Gatsby’s quest from rags to riches to acquire his love of 5 years, Daisy Buchanan. The story takes place in New York, and many of these settings show main ideas that the book promotes, These settings being The Valley of Ashes, East Egg and Manhattan. 

Throughout the story, the Valley of Ashes shows the idea of the American Dream being a failure. It shows the quest for wealth as the rich indulge themselves with regard for nothing but their own pleasure. Our first view on the valley is when Nick and Gatsby are going through it towards Manhattan. Nick describes the scene as “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens.” He then adds that it is “where ashes take forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke.” He then goes on to describe the people of the valley as “ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”  When he says this it paints a picture of the poor and how they live in this really dirty environment that isn’t the ideal place to be living. It also informs the reader of the social decay that is present in this setting which is a result from the rich not caring. Fitzgerald uses this setting to illustrate that the world has lost care for people that are less fortunate as what they are. They are just left to rot in the slums and ghettos of the dirty neighbourhoods that are spread all over our globe. The American Dream is ideally meant to be equality of opportunity to anyone, but the people that are dumped in the Valley of Ashes aren’t given any opportunities and are certainly not treated equal to people who live in the East Egg for example. The wealthier people just sit back with their feet up as people that struggle for money are working to make a living for themselves and a family that relies on them. Fitzgerald is trying to put the message across to the real world that maybe people should make more of an effort to create equality throughout our time on this planet, because every person does deserve it and they only are here once.

Secondly, Fitzgerald uses the East Egg and West Egg as some of the main settings for the characters throughout the story. They are situated in Long Island, New York. East Egg is across the bay from Gatsby and Nick’s houses and is where Tom and Daisy lives, and West Egg is where Gatsby and Nick live, and where Gatsby’s huge, extravagant parties go down. West Egg is said to be the “well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is the most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.” East Egg is said to be the location of “Old Money,”  meaning that the people that live there have had their wealth and riches since they were born and came into a family that already had money, like Tom and Daisy, whereas West Egg is “New Money” meaning these people have just come into riches and made it there by themselves, sometimes illegally, like Gatsby. The East Egg and West Eggs are a representation of the American Dream being corrupt.

 

The Great Gatsby – Language Features

Fitzgerald has a very poetic way of presenting language. He uses the same devices consistently throughout his writing.

1. Select three passages from the book (about a paragraph or two in length) that we have NOT annotated as a class. Annotate these passages and identify the language features that Fitzgerald uses. Explain the effect of these features and why he may have chosen to use them.

1 – “This is the valley of ashes – a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat (simile) into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens (alliteration); where ashes take forms of houses and chimneys (metaphors) and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”                                        

2 – “Appalled by its raw vigour that chafed (personification) under the old euphemisms and by the too obtrusive fate that herded (personification) its inhabitants along a short-cut from nothing to nothing.” 

3 – “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us (represents Gatsby’s hopes that slowly fades away). It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further… And one fine morning – So we beat on, boats against the current (metaphor), borne back (alliteration) ceaselessly in the past.”

2. Fitzgerald uses many allusions throughout the novel. Select one of these allusions and explain the connection between it and the book.

“Meyer Wolfsheim? No, he’s a gambler.” Gatsby hesitated, then added, coolly: “He’s the man who fixed the World’s Series in 1919.”

This is an alluding to the actual event of major league baseball that happened in the USA. The event was a true story and was an actual huge scandal in America at the time. This allusion is used to show that Wolfsheim is a very smart man with a lot of power to be able to do that. It is to emphasise his characters position in society.

 

The Great Gatsby – Theme

1. Explain what you think Fitzgerald is trying to say about society by presenting the idea of illusion so thoroughly throughout the text.

He is trying to portray that America is not a classless society and if anyone tries to change their class it always ends in tragedy, much like what happened to Gatsby. He tried to change from being a low class boy with no money into an insanely wealthy man, and he ended up getting killed all because of it.

2. Discuss how “illusion” is a real idea for teenagers. What problems/challenges/issues do teenagers face each day and how can we relate them to illusion.

For teenagers, their is the illusion of being the coolest and most popular person around. Young people try to be someone they are not by wearing the fashionable clothes and doing things they may not enjoy just to fit in with the “cool” crowd. This is an illusion because they are hiding behind someone who they are not, they just pretend to be this person to fit in with everyone else who is doing the exact same thing as them.

 

The Great Gatsby – Symbol

We have looked at several symbols in The Great Gatsby. Select 3 key symbols from the text and do the following for each symbol:

– Provide a description (using quotes) of the symbol from the text.

– Explain when and why the symbol appears throughout the text.

– Analyse what the symbol helps you to understand about an important character.

– Make a link between the symbol and the idea of illusion.

Green light: This is the light that is on the end of pier at Daisy and Tom’s mansion, it can be seen from Gatsby’s house, Gatsby often comes out to his pier to watch the green light. The symbol appears at the beginning of the novel but fades away towards the end of the novel, this is because the light symbolises Gatsby’s hopes and dreams and towards the end he begins to lose hope in his goal to get Daisy so the light fades. The light acts as his guide to get to Daisy to lead him to his overall goal.

Eyes of T.J. Eckleburg: These eyes are on a gigantic sign on the Valley of Ashes, they look over the valley. T.J. Eckleburg is a Doctor for eyes which is why his eyes are being advertised over the city. The symbol appears when the characters go through the Valley of Ashes to and from West Egg, towards Manhattan. The eyes represents god looking over the American society as a moral wasteland.

Flowers: A daisy flower symbolises innocence, purity, and beauty. Daisy Buchanan’s name is appropriately chosen as she appears to have all of these qualities, through the eyes of Gatsby. But what you often don’t see at first glance in a daisy is the yellow in the centre. This yellow represents her cupidity and moral corruption and her innocence and purity is just her appearance. This is an example that Gatsby shouldn’t of judged a book by it’s cover in this situation.

The Great Gatsby – Setting

1 – List the four main settings in the novel. Provide a description for each setting and explain what each setting represents.

West Egg: This is where Gatsby’s mansion is where all his extravagant parties take place, and Nick’s small house is just next door. It is in Long Island, New York. This setting represents ‘new money’ meaning the people that live here made their money later in life like Gatsby, they were not born into a wealthy family and they had to put in work to make their riches.

East Egg: This is where Tom and Daisy’s mansion is situated Long Island, New York. It is on the other side of the bay to Gatsby’s home and Gatsby can see a green light at Tom and Daisy’s house. He purposely situated his house here so he could always keep an eye on Daisy. This setting represents ‘old money’ meaning the people that live here have had their wealth for a long time. They were born into wealthy families and never had to work hard to make themselves a living.

Valley of Ashes: This is where Tom Buchanan’s affair, Myrtle who lives with her husband George Wilson who is a mechanic. The people who live here are quite poor and all work hard to make a living for themselves. This is also where the gigantic sign with a picture of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg’s look over the valley. This setting represents the pursuit of wealth as the rich indulge themselves with regard for nothing but their own pleasure.

New York City: This is where Tom has his rented apartment, in which Nick goes with him to visit his secret affair, which is Myrtle Wilson. This is also where Gatsby, Daisy, Nick, Tom and Jordan go and Tom and Gatsby have their argument over who Daisy wants to be, which leads to Myrtle being killed after being hit by Gatsby’s car. This setting represents people trying to make wealth, and to quest to make riches and get pleasure.

2 – Select two of the settings from above and discuss how these settings helped you to understand the idea of illusion in the novel. Use quotes to support your ideas.

Valley of Ashes: This shows the illusion that you can’t escape the poverty life and automatically get into the wealthy lifestyle. There is two examples of this in the book. Firstly, Gatsby illegally became rich to try and get the girl that he dreamed about, this resulted in him being shot  in the back of the head and killed. Then secondly, Myrtle tried to leave the Valley of Ashes when she thought she saw Tom’s car speeding past, she walked out and got hit by the car which killed her instantly.

East Egg: This setting displays an illusion as it is described as the ” more fashionable of the two,” the other being the West Egg. It is meant to be filled with happiness from all the wealth inside, when really it is filled with weak and disappointing characters. Tom and Daisy’s relationship for example, Daisy only stays with Tom for his money as she is well aware of his affairs with other woman.