American Literature books summary
the dead baby in an apple box and floats it down the flooded stream as Al
and build a platform on the top of the car. As the flood waters rise, the
family remains on the platform. The family finds a barn for refuge until
the rain stops. In the corner of the barn there are a starving man and a
boy. Ma and Rose of Sharon realize what she must do. Ma makes everybody
leave the barn, while Rose of Sharon gives the dying man her breast milk.
The Great Gatsby
Chapter One: The novel begins with a personal note by the narrator, Nick
Carraway. He relates that he has a tendency to reserve all judgments
against people and that he has been conditioned to be understanding toward
those who haven't had his advantages. Carraway came from a prominent family
from the Midwest, graduated from Yale and fought in the Great War. After
the war and a period of restlessness, he decided to go East to learn the
bond business. At the book's beginning, Carraway has just arrived in New
York, living in West Egg village. He was going to have dinner with Tom
Buchanan and his wife Daisy. Tom was an enormously wealthy man and a noted
football player at Yale, and Daisy was Carraway's second cousin. Jordan
mentions that, since Carraway lives in West Egg, he must know Gatsby.
Another woman, Jordan Baker, is also there. She tells Nick that Tom is
having an affair with some woman in New York. Tom discusses the book "The
Rise of the Colored Empires," which claims that the colored races will
submerge the white race eventually. Daisy talks to Carraway alone, and
claims that she has become terribly cynical and sophisticated. After
visiting with the Buchanans, Carraway goes home to West Egg, where he sees
Gatsby come from his mansion alone, looking at the sea. He stretches out
his arms toward the water, looking at a faraway green light.
Chapter Two: Fitzgerald begins this second chapter with the description of
a road running between West Egg and New York City. A large, decaying
billboard showing two eyes (advertising an optometrist's practice)
overlooks the desolate area. It is here, at a gas station, where Tom
Buchanan introduces Nick Carraway to Myrtle Wilson, the woman with whom he
is having an affair. Myrtle herself is married to George B. Wilson, an auto
mechanic. Tom has Myrtle meet them in the city, where Tom buys her a dog.
They go to visit Myrtle's sister and also visit her neighbors, Catherine
McKee and her husband, who is an artist. They gossip about Gatsby, and
Myrtle discusses her husband, claiming that she was crazy to marry him, and
how she met Tom. Later, Myrtle and Tom argue about whether or not she has a
right to say Daisy's name, and he breaks Myrtle's nose.
Chapter Three: Nick Carraway describes the customs of Gatsby's weekly
parties: the arrival of crates of oranges and lemons, a corps of caterers
and a large orchestra. On the first night that Carraway visits Gatsby's
house, he was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. When he
arrives, he sees Jordan Baker, who had recently lost a golf tournament.
They hear more gossip about Jay Gatsby he supposedly killed a man, or was
a German spy. Jordan and Nick look through Gatsby's library, where she
thinks that his books are not real. Later in the party, a man who
recognized Nick from the war talks to him Nick does not know that it is
Gatsby. Suddenly, after he identifies himself, Gatsby gets a phone call
from Chicago. Afterwards, Gatsby asks to speak to Jordan Baker alone. When
she finishes talking to Gatsby, she tells Nick that she heard the most
amazing thing and says that she wishes to see him. Guests leaving the party
have a car wreck in Gatsby's driveway. This was merely one event in a
crowded summer. Carraway, who spent most of his time working, began to like
New York. For a while he lost sight of Jordan Baker. He was not in love
with her, but had some curiosity toward her.
Chapter Four: At a Sunday morning party at Gatsby's, young women gossip
about Gatsby (he's a bootlegger who killed a man who found out that he was
a nephew to Von Hindenburg and second cousin to the devil). One morning
Gatsby comes to take Nick for lunch. He shows off his car: it had a rich
cream color and was filled with boxes from Gatsby's purchases. Gatsby asks
Nick what his opinion of him is, and Nick is evasive. Gatsby gives his
story: he is the son of wealthy people in the Middle West, brought up in
America and educated at Oxford. Carraway does not believe him, for he
chokes on his words. Gatsby continues: he lived in the capitals of Europe,
then enlisted in the war effort, where he was promoted to major and given a
number of declarations (from every Allied government, even Montenegro).
Gatsby admits that he usually finds himself among strangers because he
drifts from here to there, and that something happened to him that Jordan
Baker will tell Nick at lunch. They drive out past the valley of ashes and
Nick even glimpses Myrtle Wilson. When Gatsby is stopped for speeding, he
flashes a card to the policeman, who then does not give him a ticket.
At lunch, Gatsby introduces Carraway to Meyer Wolfsheim, a small, flat-
nosed Jew. He talks of the days at the Metropole when they shot Rosy
Rosenthal, and proudly mentions his cufflinks, which are made from human
molars. Wolfsheim is a gambler, the man who fixed the 1919 World Series.
Tom Buchanan is also there, and Nick introduces him to Gatsby, who appears
quite uncomfortable and then suddenly disappears. Jordan Baker tells the
story about Gatsby: Back in 1917, Daisy was eighteen and Jordan sixteen.
They were volunteering with the Red Cross, making bandages, and Daisy asked
Jordan to cover for her that day. She was meeting with Jay Gatsby, and
there were wild rumors that she was going to run off to New York with him.
On Daisy's wedding day to Tom, she nearly changes her mind, and goes into
hysterics. According to Jordan, Gatsby bought his house just to be across
the bay from Daisy. Nick becomes more drawn to Jordan, with her scornful
and cynical manner. Jordan tells Nick that he is supposed to arrange a
meeting between Gatsby and Daisy.
Chapter Five: Nick speaks with Gatsby about arranging a meeting with Daisy,
and tries to make it as convenient for Nick as possible. Gatsby even offers
him a job, a "confidential sort of thing," although he assures Nick that he
would not have to work with Wolfsheim. On the day that Gatsby and Daisy are
to meet, Gatsby has arranged everything to perfection. They start at Nick's
home, where the conversation between the three (Nick, Gatsby, Daisy) is
stilted and awkward. They are all embarrassed, and Nick tells Gatsby that
he's behaving like a little boy. They go over to Gatsby's house, where
Gatsby gives a tour. Nick asks Gatsby more questions about his business,
and he snaps back "that's my affair," before giving a half-hearted
explanation. Gatsby shows Daisy newspaper clippings about his exploits, and
has Ewing Klipspringer, a boarder, play the piano for them. One of the
notable mementos that Gatsby shows Daisy is a photograph of him with Dan
Cody, his closest friend, on a yacht. As they leave, Carraway realizes that
there must have been moments when Daisy disappointed Gatsby during the
afternoon, for his dreams and illusions had been built up to such grandiose
Chapter Six: On a vague hunch, a reporter comes to Gatsby's home asking him
if he had a statement to give out. The actual story of Gatsby is revealed:
he was born James Gatz in North Dakota. He had his named legally changed at
the age of seventeen. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm
people, and the young man was consumed by fancies of what he might achieve.
His life changed when he rowed out to Dan Cody's yacht on Lake Superior.
Cody was then fifty, a product of the Nevada silver fields and of the Yukon
gold rush. Cody took Gatsby in and brought him to the West Indies and the
Barbary Coast as a personal assistant. When Cody died, Gatsby inherited
$25,000, but didn't get it because Cody's mistress, Ella Kaye, claimed all
of it. Gatsby told Nick this much later.
Nick had not seen Gatsby for several weeks when he went over to his house.
Tom Buchanan arrived there. He had been horseback riding with a woman and a
Mr. Sloane. Gatsby invites the group to supper, but the lady counters with
an offer of supper at her home. Mr. Sloane seems quite opposed to the idea,
so Nick turns down the offer, but Gatsby accepts. Tom complains about the
crazy people that Daisy meets, presumably meaning Gatsby. On the following
Saturday Tom accompanies Daisy to Gatsby's party. Tom is unpleasant and
rude during the evening. Tom suspects that Gatsby is a bootlegger, since he
is one of the new rich. After the Buchanans leave, Gatsby is disappointed,
thinking that Daisy surely did not enjoy herself. Nick realizes that Gatsby
wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should tell Tom that she never
loved him. Nick tells Gatsby that he can't ask too much of Daisy, and that
"you can't repeat the past," to which Gatsby replies: "Of course you can!"
Chapter Seven: It was when curiosity about Gatsby was at its highest that
he failed to give a Saturday night party. Nick goes over to see if Gatsby
is sick, and learns that Gatsby had dismissed every servant in his house
and replaced them with a half dozen others who would not gossip, for Daisy
had been visiting in the afternoons. Daisy invites Gatsby, Nick and Jordan
to lunch. At the lunch, Tom is supposedly on the telephone with Myrtle
Wilson. Daisy shows of her daughter, who is dressed in white, to her
guests. Tom claims that he read that the sun is getting hotter and soon the
earth will fall into it or rather that the sun is getting colder. Daisy
makes an offhand remark that she loves Gatsby, which Tom overhears. When
Tom goes inside to get a drink, Nick remarks that Daisy has an indiscreet
voice. Gatsby says that her voice is "full of money." They all go to town:
Nick and Jordan in Tom's car, Daisy in Gatsby's. On the way, Tom tells Nick
that he has investigated Gatsby, who is certainly no Oxford man, as is
rumored. They stop to get gas at Wilson's garage. Mr. Wilson wants to buy
Tom's car, for he has financial troubles and he and Myrtle want to go west.
Wilson tells Tom that he "just got wised up" to something recently, the
reason why he and Myrtle want to get away.
While leaving the garage, they see Myrtle peering down at the car from her
window. Her expression was one of jealous terror toward Jordan Baker, whom
she took to be his wife.
Feeling that both his wife and mistress are slipping away from him, Tom
feels panicked and impatient. To escape from the summer heat, they go to a
suite at the Plaza Hotel. Tom begins to confront Gatsby, irritated at his
constant use of the term "old sport." Tom attempts to expose Gatsby as a
liar concerning Gatsby's experience at Oxford. Tom rambles on about the
decline of civilization, and how there may even be intermarriage between
races. Gatsby tells Tom that Daisy doesn't love him, and never loved him
the only reason why she married him was because Gatsby was poor and Daisy
was tired of waiting. Daisy hints that there has been trouble in her and
Tom's past, and then tells Tom that she never loved him. However, she does
concede that she did love Tom once. Gatsby tells Tom that he is not going
to take care of Daisy anymore and that Daisy is leaving him. Tom calls
Gatsby a "common swindler" and a bootlegger involved with Meyer Wolfsheim.
Nick realizes that today is his thirtieth birthday.
The young Greek, Michaelis, who ran the coffee joint next to Wilson's
garage was the principal witness at the inquest. While Wilson and his wife
were fighting, she ran out in the road and was hit by a light green car.
She was killed. Tom and Nick learn this when they drive past on their way
back from the city. Tom realizes that it was Gatsby who hit Myrtle. When
Nick returns home, he sees Gatsby, who explains what happened. Daisy was
driving the car when they hit Myrtle.
Chapter Eight: Nick cannot sleep that night. Toward dawn he hears a taxi go
up Gatsby's drive, and he immediately feels that he has something to warn
Gatsby about. Gatsby is still there, watching Daisy's mansion across the
bay. Nick warns him to get away for a week, since his car will inevitably
be traced, but he refuses to consider it. He cannot leave Daisy until he
knew what she would do. It was then when Gatsby told his entire history to
Nick. Gatsby still refuses to believe that Daisy ever loved Tom. After the
war Gatsby searched for Daisy, only to find that she had married Tom. Nick
leaves reluctantly, having to go to work that morning. Before he leaves,
Nick tells Gatsby that he's "worth the whole damn bunch put together." At
work, Nick gets a call from Jordan, and they have a tense conversation.
That day Michaelis goes to comfort Wilson, who is convinced that his wife
was murdered. He had found the dog collar that Tom had bought Myrtle hidden
the day before, which prompted their sudden decision to move west. Wilson
looks out at the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg and tells Michaelis that "God sees
everything." Wilson left, "acting crazy" (according to witnesses), and
found his way to Gatsby's house. Gatsby had gone out to the pool for one
last swim before draining it for the fall. Wilson shot him, and then shot
Chapter Nine: Most of the reports of the murder were grotesque and untrue.
Nick finds himself alone on Gatsby's side. Tom and Daisy suddenly left
town. Meyer Wolfsheim is difficult to contact, and offers assistance, but
cannot become too involved because of current entanglements. Nick tracks
down Gatsby's father, Henry C. Gatz, a solemn old man, helpless and
dismayed by news of the murder. Gatz says that his son would have "helped
build up the country." Klipspringer, the boarder, leaves suddenly and only
returns to get his tennis shoes. Nick goes to see Wolfsheim, who claims
that he made Gatsby. He tells Nick "let he learn to show our friendship for
a man when he is alive and not after he is dead," and politely refuses to
attend the funeral. Gatz shows Nick his son's daily schedule, in which he
has practically every minute of his day planned. He had a continual
interest in self-improvement. At the funeral, one of the few attendees is
the Owl-Eyed man from Gatsby's first party. Nick thinks about the
differences between the west and the east, and realizes that he, the
Buchanans, Gatsby and Jordan are all Westerners who came east, perhaps
possessing some deficiency which made them unadaptable to Eastern life.
After Gatsby's death the East was haunted and distorted. He meets with
Jordan Baker, who recalls their conversation about how bad drivers are
dangerous only when two of them meet. She tells Nick that the two of them
are both 'bad drivers.' Months later Nick saw Tom Buchanan, and Nick scorns
him, knowing that he pointed Wilson toward Gatsby. Nick realizes that all
of Tom's actions were, to him, justified. Nick leaves New York to return
Fitzgerald concludes the novel with a final note on Gatsby's beliefs.
It is this particular aspect of his character his optimistic belief in
achievement and the ability to attain one's dreams that defines Gatsby, in
contrast to the compromising cynicism of his peers. Yet the final symbol
contradicts and deflates the grand optimism that Gatsby held. Fitzgerald
ends the book with the sentence "So we beat on, boats against the current,
borne ceaselessly into the past," which contradicts Gatsby's fervent belief
that one can escape his origins and rewrite his past.
Long Day's Journey Into the Night
Act I, Part One The play begins in August, 1912, at the summer home of
the Tyrone family. The setting for all four acts is the family's living
room, which is adjacent to the kitchen and dining room. There is also a
staircase just off stage, which leads to the upper-level bedrooms. It is
8:30 am, and the family has just finished breakfast in the dining room.
While Jamie and Edmund,Tyrone enter and embrace, and Mary comments on being
pleased with her recent weight gain even though she is eating less food.
Tyrone and Mary make conversation, which leads to a brief argument
about Tyrone's tendency to spend money on real estate investing. They are
interrupted by the sound of Edmund, who is having a coughing fit in the
next room. Although Mary remarks that he merely has a bad cold, Tyrone's
body language indicates that he may know more about Edmund's sickness than
Mary. Nevertheless, Tyrone tells Mary that she must take care of herself
and focus on getting better rather than getting upset about Edmund. Mary
immediately becomes defensive, saying, "There's nothing to be upset about.
What makes you think I'm upset?" Tyrone drops the subject and tells Mary
that he is glad to have her "dear old self" back again.
Edmund and Jamie are heard laughing in the next room, and Tyrone
immediately grows bitter, assuming they are making jokes about him. Edmund
and Jamie enter, and we see that, even though he is just 23 years old,
Edmund is "plainly in bad health" and nervous. Upon entering, Jamie begins
to stare at his mother, thinking that she is looking much better. The
conversation turns spiteful, however, when the sons begin to make fun of
Tyrone's loud snoring, a subject about which he is sensitive, driving him
to anger. Edmund tells him to calm down, leading to an argument between the
two. Tyrone then turns on Jamie, attacking him for his lack of ambition and
laziness. To calm things down, Edmund tells a funny story about a tenant
named Shaughnessy on the Tyrone family land in Ireland, where the family's
origins lie. Tyrone is not amused by the anecdote, however, because he
could be the subject of a lawsuit related to ownership of the land. He
attacks Edmund again, calling his comments socialist. Edmund gets upsets
and exits in a fit of coughing. Jamie points out that Edmund is really
sick, a comment which Tyrone responds to with a "shut up" look, as though
trying to prevent Mary from finding out something. Mary tells them that,
despite what any doctor may say, she believes that Edmund has nothing more
than a bad cold. Mary has a deep distrust for doctors. Tyrone and Jamie
begin to stare at her again, making her self-conscious. Mary reflects on
her faded beauty, recognizing that she is in the stages of decline.
As Mary exits, Tyrone chastises Jamie for suggesting that Edmund really
may be ill in front of Mary, who is not supposed to worry during her
recovery from her addiction to morphine. Jamie and Tyrone both suspect that
Edmund has consumption (better known today as tuberculosis), and Jamie
thinks it unwise to allow Mary to keep fooling herself. Jamie and Tyrone
argue over Edmund's doctor, Doc Hardy, who charges very little for his
services. Jamie accuses Tyrone of getting the cheapest doctor, without
regard to quality, simply because he is a penny-pincher. Tyrone retorts
that Jamie always thinks the worst of everyone, and that Jamie does not
understand the value of a dollar because he has always been able to take
comfortable living for granted. Tyrone, by contrast, had to work his own
way up from the streets. Jamie only squanders loads of money on whores and
liquor in town. Jamie argues back that Tyrone squanders money on real
estate speculation, although Tyrone points out that most of his holdings
are mortgaged. Tyrone accuses Jamie of laziness and criticizes his failure
to succeed at anything. Jamie was expelled from several colleges in his
younger years, and he never shows any gratitude towards his father; Tyrone
thinks that he is a bad influence on Edmund. Jamie counters that he has
always tried to teach Edmund to lead a life different from that which Jamie
Act I, Part Two Tyrone and Jamie continue their discussion about
Edmund, who works for a local newspaper. Tyrone and Jamie have heard that
some editors dislike Edmund, but they both acknowledge that he has a strong
creative impulse that drives much of his plans. Tyrone and Jamie agree also
that they are glad to have Mary back. They resolve to help her in any way
possible, and they decide to keep the truth about Edmund's sickness from
her, although they realize that they will not be able to do so if Edmund
has to be committed to a sanatorium, a place where tuberculosis patients
are treated. Tyrone and Jamie discuss Mary's health, and Tyrone seems to be
fooling himself into thinking that Mary is healthier than she really is.
Jamie mentions that he heard her walking around the spare bedroom the night
before, which may be a sign that she is taking morphine again. Tyrone says
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