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The Best Passages From The Great Gatsby

If Fitzgerald’s prose is like butter, then The Great Gatsby is like bathing in a giant vat of delicious, theater popcorn.

I’ve read this novel multiple times, and I’m always struck by how I never grow tired of reading it. Every single passage lives and breathes and just jumps of the page. Fitzgerald wrote with such a purpose.

With my review coming on Monday, I thought I’d share some of my favorite passages and quotes from The Great Gatsby today.

About Gatsby’s demeanor:

“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

About Gatsby’s passion for and unrealistic expectations of Daisy:

“There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”

Nick’s outstanding opening to the novel:

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Nick’s description of Daisy:

“Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.”

The novel’s fabulous ending:

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning– So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Some other outstanding lines:

“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”

“Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.”

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him”

“It takes two to make an accident.”

“Life is much more successfully looked at from a single window.”

This is one of the most often quoted novels in the world, so I’m sure none of these quotes are new to you, but these are just a few one the passages I underlined in my book.

Feel free to chime in with your own favorites or thoughts in the comments.

29 Comments Post a comment
  1. Awesome talent – and how well he depicts two incredibly charismatic people. They absolutely come alive in those passages.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 13, 2012
    • Yep. All throughout the book, those characters just jump off the pages.


      December 13, 2012
  2. cnrangel #

    Reblogged this on Who knows, who cares.


    December 13, 2012
  3. What is your opinion of ‘Catcher in the Rye’? Similar literary attempt to capture the ‘now’, but with a teenager’s nihilistic world outlook.


    December 13, 2012
    • That was the first book I read for this blog. It was okay. Much prefer Gatsby though.


      December 14, 2012
  4. Reblogged this on On My Stereo.


    December 13, 2012
  5. On my to read list (for the first time!) Hoping to start it before year end


    December 13, 2012
  6. dste #

    I always liked this one: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together…”

    Liked by 1 person

    December 13, 2012
  7. sylviemarieheroux #

    Robert, I don’t about a vat of theater popcorn being delicious… I recently was sorely disappointed in my first vat of theater popcorn in years. I wore braces for four and a half years and popcorn was a no-no. Got the braces removed in late November and the next chance I got, we headed to the theater for a movie and I indulged in a vat of popcorn (small size, but still a vat). Wwwway too salty and the buttery topping just didn’t meet my expectations. I’d much rather have homemade with real melted butter and a tiny bit of salt.

    Otherwise, I share your delight in the Great Gatsby. There is indeed something magical and so enticing in F. Scott’s writing. I never tire of it either.


    December 13, 2012
    • We’ll just have to disagree about the popcorn. I would live off theater popcorn if it was even marginally healthy.


      December 14, 2012
  8. sylviemarieheroux #

    Oops sorry, that should have been “I don’t know about…”


    December 13, 2012
  9. Reblogged this on Daisies and To-Do-Lists and commented:
    The Great Gatsby is one my favorite books. Check out this post from 101 Books!


    December 14, 2012
  10. rogerradcliffe #

    Finally! Someone has taken the time to appreciate the eloquence of Fitzgerald’s writing. So many of my collegues bash The Great Gatsby for reasons I still don’t understand. It’s wonderful to know I am not alone in my enthusiam!

    Liked by 1 person

    December 14, 2012
  11. The Great Gatsby is one of those books that is delightful because of the way it’s written as well as what is written. It makes me wonder how the filmmakers are going to portray it when it comes out next year… how do you show such introspective, deep descriptions? What do you think?


    December 15, 2012
  12. I liked the passage that began:

    ‘I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn’t believe it would come, and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.’

    I also really liked this bit:

    ‘And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemd so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.’

    The last lines of the novel that you quoted are great as well, sad but great.


    December 24, 2012
    • Those are my favourite last lines ever. The beauty and sorrow of those lines never fail to move me. Gatsby has a perfect opening and closing paragraph


      November 14, 2014
  13. But what about this one?

    “The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.

    “The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtain and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.”

    Liked by 2 people

    January 23, 2013
  14. “If Fitzgerald’s prose is like butter, then The Great Gatsby is like bathing in a giant vat of delicious, theatre popcorn.” What a brilliant simile! Completely agree with you that these are some of the best passages of the entire novel! Great post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    November 19, 2014
  15. Sam D. #

    God I’m sophisticated…


    June 11, 2015
  16. good man yo


    December 8, 2015
  17. Reblogged this on Lilly Brodie.


    February 29, 2016
  18. Brian L Foley #

    My favorite of favorites.

    “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 that 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.
    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.”

    Liked by 1 person

    July 4, 2016
  19. Reblogged this on Golden and Gray and commented:
    Just another reminder of the wonderful book which I have read many times and am going to read again soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 14, 2016
  20. The novel has so many gaps the reader can fill with his/her own emotions and ideas… Daisy’s voice that is so alluring, Gatsby’s smile… and of course a movie takes away a lot of gaps… but to leave us there in the dark at the end, with the green light shining from the screen towards the audience… Turning us into Gatsby… Longing… Reaching… Leaving everyone alone with their lack, their dreams… That was great…


    April 18, 2017
  21. Josh #

    It’s orgastic, not orgiastic.


    October 8, 2017

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Book 50: The Great Gatsby | 101 Books
  2. Looking Back At The Great Gatsby | 101 Books
  3. Writing – Point of View | My Word
  4. Kritik Roman: Der große Gatsby, von F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925, engl. The Great Gatsby) – 8 Sterne – mit Hintergründen, Kritiken, Links & Video |

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