In the past fortnight I have read ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘To kill a Mockingbird.’ Both are classics of American Literature and both the two characters from the books really shone through. The first character was J.Gatsby. Through, the narration of Nick Carraway we are presented with the main protagonist of Fitzgeralds novel. This is interesting is an interesting use of language as the story is narrated in the first person and his observations. So the events are that of perception and the narrators experience. This is similar to Lee’s use of Scout’s narration in her novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ The more I read the book the more I felt the story was about Atticus as opposed to the narrator Scout. I remember this novel being part of my sixth form reading list. However, I definitely related to it more as an adult I think. Same with the aforementioned novel.
Why did I want to write a blog post about these characters? Well they enticed me in a manner of speaking. Gatsby was driven by love for a women that he delved into the underground of the 1920’s and eventually amassed the wealth that was needed to attain her. Atticus is driven by justice being a man of the law but he is fighting the system of 1930’s in America in a small town. Although Gatsby becomes rich he is still scrutinised. This is similar to Atticus. He is scrutinised for attempting to gain justice for an innocent black man. Both tales are gripping in their own way and there are other themes which the authors explore, but it is the ‘scrutiny’ of each I want to delve into.
One man (Atticus) had the status was from a good socio-economic background. The other (Gatsby) paved his way into the high society. Having said this both men were scrutinised and frowned upon- for different reasons which I shall not discuss in to such detail. This scrutiny that they faced is something that is evident in daily life and is relatable. Reading these books reinforced to me that no matter where you are from, what you have, what you have achieved there will always be criticism. It is what you do in the face of this criticism that really defines who you are.
I further went onto link this to my beliefs as a Muslim and living as a Muslim. In everything we do we are open to opinions-more so these days with the fast paced social media and its accessibility. Reading, the books and identifying with the characters provided me with a form of escapism and created a bubble. In this bubble I began contemplating about faith, parenting and aspirations (not things most people would think about I know.) I thought about Atticus’s approach to parenting. How he was open with his children to a certain extent and they knew their limits. He had taught them to read before beginning school and ensured they paid their dues when they made a mistake. He was not an enforcer or a rigid disciplinarian but emanated a calm demeanour. Gatsby was also a character who was honest and determined and knew what he wanted. As Muslims we are encouraged in the same way to have a balance. I guess it was this balance that I related to with Atticus rather than Gatsby. All in all they were both balanced.