WORD LISTS

"The Great Gatsby," Vocabulary from Chapters 8-9

April 10, 2013
F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic "The Great Gatsby" is a glittering parade of parties and excess, but at its heart it is about identity and whether being wealthy in America can help you change who you really are. Learn this word list that focuses on beginnings and endings.

Here are links to all our word lists for the novel: Chapter 1, Chapters 2-3, Chapters 4-5, Chapters 6-7, Chapters 8-9
incessantly
Nick is using the adverb "incessantly" to describe the groaning of a foghorn, which foreshadows his attempts to warn Gatsby that something bad was going to happen and echoes the "hollow, wailing sound which issued incessantly from the garage" (which was George Wilson grieving over the dead body of his wife Myrtle).
I couldn't sleep all night; a fog-horn was groaning incessantly on the Sound, and I tossed half-sick between grotesque reality and savage frightening dreams.
redolent
There was a ripe mystery about it, a hint of bedrooms upstairs more beautiful and cool than other bedrooms, of gay and radiant activities taking place through its corridors and of romances that were not musty and laid away already in lavender but fresh and breathing and redolent of this year's shining motor cars and of dances whose flowers were scarcely withered.
ravenous
He took what he could get, ravenously and unscrupulously--eventually he took Daisy one still October night, took her because he had no real right to touch her hand.
unscrupulous
He took what he could get, ravenously and unscrupulously--eventually he took Daisy one still October night, took her because he had no real right to touch her hand.
stratum
I don't mean that he had traded on his phantom millions, but he had deliberately given Daisy a sense of security; he let her believe that he was a person from much the same stratum as herself--that he was fully able to take care of her.
tranquil
The afternoon had made them tranquil for a while as if to give them a deep memory for the long parting the next day promised.
profoundly
They had never been closer in their month of love nor communicated more profoundly one with another than when she brushed silent lips against his coat's shoulder or when he touched the end of her fingers, gently, as though she were asleep.
abruptly
We talked like that for a while and then abruptly we weren't talking any longer.
melancholy
Just as Daisy's house had always seemed to him more mysterious and gay than other houses so his idea of the city itself, even though she was gone from it, was pervaded with a melancholy beauty.
benediction
The track curved and now it was going away from the sun which, as it sank lower, seemed to spread itself in benediction over the vanishing city where she had drawn her breath.
interminable
Even when the East excited me most, even when I was most keenly aware of its superiority to the bored, sprawling, swollen towns beyond the Ohio, with their interminable inquisitions which spared only the children and the very old--even then it had always for me a quality of distortion.
forlorn
This was a forlorn hope--he was almost sure that Wilson had no friend: there was not enough of him for his wife.
dissolve
Standing behind him Michaelis saw with a shock that he was looking at the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg which had just emerged pale and enormous from the dissolving night.
scarcely
He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass.
fortuitous
A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about . . . like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees.
corrugate
A small gust of wind that scarcely corrugated the surface was enough to disturb its accidental course with its accidental burden.
adventitious
Someone with a positive manner, perhaps a detective, used the expression "mad man" as he bent over Wilson's body that afternoon, and the adventitious authority of his voice set the key for the newspaper reports next morning.
pasquinade
When Michaelis's testimony at the inquest brought to light Wilson's suspicions of his wife I thought the whole tale would shortly be served up in racy pasquinade--but Catherine, who might have said anything, didn't say a word.
ghastly
He had reached an age where death no longer has the quality of ghastly surprise, and when he looked around him now for the first time and saw the height and splendor of the hall and the great rooms opening out from it into other rooms his grief began to be mixed with an awed pride.
reverent
He drew me into his office, remarking in a reverent voice that it was a sad time for all of us, and offered me a cigar.
elocution
" Practice elocution, poise and how to attain it 5.00-6.00
resentment
I tried to think about Gatsby then for a moment but he was already too far away and I could only remember, without resentment, that Daisy hadn't sent a message or a flower.
indistinguishable
We drew in deep breaths of it as we walked back from dinner through the cold vestibules, unutterably aware of our identity with this country for one strange hour before we melted indistinguishably into it again.
provincial
As a noun, "provincial" can also mean "an official in charge of an ecclesiastical region" (usually Roman Catholic). Here, Nick is using the word as an adjective to describe his oversensitive or easily disgusted nature, thus giving himself a moral ground that can be contrasted with Tom's careless smashing of the world and Daisy's insincere and scornful declaration: "Sophisticated--God, I'm sophisticated!"
Then he went into the jewelry store to buy a pearl necklace--or perhaps only a pair of cuff buttons--rid of my provincial squeamishness forever.
raspingly
On the white steps an obscene word, scrawled by some boy with a piece of brick, stood out clearly in the moonlight and I erased it, drawing my shoe raspingly along the stone.
pander
"Pander" is used to describe the actions of trees, so it should not connect to the definition of arranging sexual partners for someone else. But that was hinted at in Nick's role in Gatsby's affair with Daisy. Here, it suggests that the trees the Dutch sailors had first seen in America inspired a wondrous awe of life that could also arise during sex. But as Gatsby discovered, comparing the possibilities for an entire country to one woman will result in disappointment.
Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
transitory
Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
commensurate
Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
recede
In using the words "orgastic" and "recede" in the same sentence, Fitzgerald and Nick suggest that the possibilities for the future can be as exciting as sex, but like orgasms, they don't last. And the older we get, the more difficult both would be to embrace and achieve.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.
ceaseless
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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