September 30, 2009

Diction in Great Gatsby

"He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy, straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two bright, arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes hid the enormous power of that body- he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting where his shoulder moved under his coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage-"

Tell me that doesn't sound like it could be right out of Fool for Love or Much Ado About You or any of the other ridiculously cheesy romance novels I read. In face, I definitely remember at least one description about someone who was so aggressively masculine that he made his overly stylish clothes look good, but in an over-the-top, more mediaeval manner. It isn't until the last three words, "-a cruel body," that the whole thing gets subverted.

Granted, I mentioned none of that in class. You wouldn't have expected me to tell everyone about my secret love of bodice-rippers, would you? Instead, we went through the above paragraph and discussed the various harsh connotations of certain words. When we got to "hard" Ms. Seltzia informed us that we would bypass the sexual connotations for now. Krystal, who appears to lack the typical devices to restrain speech, waited two beats before announcing loudly "Oh my god, I hadn't thought of that AT ALL." The class, which had managed, until that point, to keep the snickers away, began laughing.

4 comments:

Gretchen said...

i read all the posts but i realllly don't want to comment on all of them. so i am just letting you know that i am fully caught up.

we're finishing GG on Monday. she (teacher) hasn't even mentioned the research paper yet...

Julie said...

your teacher works reeeealllllyyyy fast gretch. we have to read chapters 3 and 4 by tomorrow.

my class went over this passage today, doing some serious word analysis, including of the word "hard," and no one even twitched, except me because i had read the post and was thinking about it.

word: entionic. doesn't it sound sciencey?

Gretchen said...

it does julie...
weird. my class is the only class that didn't talk about that passage. we talked about the description and diction of the house. the grass, the windows, the ceiling...not tom though...

mine is fulerma.

Jackie said...

my immediate thought upon reading this passage the first time was "is nick carraway gay? wait. is fitzgerald gay?"
i mean, seriously. how many straight guys would describe the "straining at the lacing" and "pack of muscle shifting" under his clothes?

not, of course, that i have anything against that because of its connotations. i am only dissatisfied because of its general cheesiness...