Why removing the queerness of Gatsby matters

In one of the film’s stupidest choices, Nick ends up in a sanitarium after Gatsby’s death. His pure heart is so repulsed by the cruelty and corruption of the city that he is driven insane. In the book, though, Nick doesn’t see Tom Buchanan and Daisy as decadent. He sees them as dangerously innocent. “I felt suddenly,” he says of his last meeting with Tom, “as though I were talking to a child.” Tom and Daisy, with their old money, can afford to be careless; they don’t need to know who they’re running down. But folks like Gatsby, or Nick, or Jordan Baker, who live life on the margins, have to be more careful.

Pehaps that’s why the book The Great Gatsby, despite its blaring title and filthy-rich protagonist, feels so restrained. Nick never tells you everything. The film, in robbing him of his queerness, also robs him of his reserve, and not coincidentally, of his intelligence. The result is a loud Hollywood celebration of hopeful desire. Fitzgerald’s Nick, though, knows that desire must often hide behind ellipses, and that even hope can be a kind of mask.

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