In every retelling or its variations, Gatsby must die. He represents the adolescence of an emerging adult, some say a nation, who must meet his death to be reborn through a witness, I say a writer, to the real, if not better, World. And there are two sides to this persistent death. One is the faith that audiences will continue to buy it — the fiction, if not the dream. The other is that, despite it all, some writers still believe in that kind of hero myth. We keep the faith that Gatsby’s death is gonna lead us somewhere good. And writers only need a grain of it to keep us offing poor heroes, like Gatsby, over and over so the narrator/writer can reflect and mourn on innocence lost and from it, gloriously raise perseverance and the determination to make the sacrifice of others ‘count’.
Why do we continue to repeat classics that may no longer apply to who we are now? What would a modern-day Gatsby do with himself in today’s culture? On who or what would he foolishly gamble away all his passion? They simply don’t manufacture Dreams like they use to. He would never buy one today — not enough of one, anyway, to carry him to his purposeful end. And I’d argue that neither is there enough motivation for any modern leading lady to convincingly play the ‘supportive’ role long enough to inspire him the rest of the way. I would personally love to see a Gatsby who takes a different stand.
Faith in heroes has changed a lot in the last 90 years. Heroes should probably stop letting themselves be solely the invention of writers. Especially if we keep telling the same stories! Just different cast and costume. The heroes out there need to help us out a little. And what about our audiences? What role do they play in keeping our modern-day heroes alive?
What about that state where all songs and stories were new and a new frontier was always in our horizon? Just as it was in Gatsby’s time. Ah, I think, maybe there lies the beginning of the problem. Maybe the stories that we keep repeating, we do so because these stories are just the beginning of a much larger story that was never fully realized. We can’t get past what we haven’t finished yet.