7. Select the five most important quotations and give their significance.

1. From Babylon Revisited, conversation between Paul (the head barman) and Charlie:

"I heard that you lost a lot in the crash."
"I did," and he added grimly, "but I lost everything I wanted in the boom."
"Selling short."
"Something like that."

This quote represents the duality of Charlie’s loss -- both financial and emotional -- as a result of the exuberance of the “Roaring Twenties.” While Paul refers to the economic downturn in the aftermath of the stock market crash of 1929, Charlie hints at a deeper meaning. His extravagant lifestyle during the boom cost him a great deal, namely his wife and child. The crash may have put a damper on Charlie’s financial security, but in a way it forced him to realize the error in his ways.

2. From Babylon Revisited:

"--The men who locked their wives out in the snow, because the snow of twenty-nine wasn't real snow. If you didn't want it to be snow you just paid some money."

This quote captures the essence of the period just before the stock market crash of 1929. Charlie, who literally locked his wife Helen out in the snow, is haunted by the memory of those days. The twenties were marked by lavish spending and ridiculous behavior. Paying money to make the snow ‘unreal’ epitomizes the irrational attitude of society before the crash. Money was thrown around, wasted on extravagances to allow people to forget their responsibilities. Through Babylon Revisited, Fitzgerald represents how these foolish acts (which ultimately led to Helen’s death and Charlie’s sorrow) had an impact on his own life and on society as a whole.

3. From The Great Gatsby:

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic 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 then one fine morning—So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

These last lines of the book reflect one of the major themes of The Great Gatsby: the intermingling of the influential past with the “orgastic” future (represented by the green light). Their hopeful dreams of the future “eluded” them then, giving the illusion of progress that inevitably gets caught by their inability to move beyond the past. The past greatly affects the present and future. No matter the optimism one has (“tomorrow we will run faster…”), how driven they are toward their goal, the inescapable “currents” of life will push against them. The metaphor represents both the American Dream and Gatsby’s struggle as he becomes wrapped up in the fantasy of recreating the past and his affair with Daisy.

4. From The Great Gatsby:

"... and Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor."

This quote yet again exemplifies Fitzgerald’s view of the “Roaring Twenties.” Daisy represents all that is the Jazz Age lifestyle: one on hand she’s got the charm, the glitz and glamour, but she is also shallow and careless – especially with money. Living in the lap of luxury, Daisy is stuck in an irrational, materialistic world, unconcerned with the rest of society. Her wealth both “imprisons and preserves” her youth and mystery, keeping her tucked in her own extravagant world.

5. From The Curious Case of Benjamin Button:

“As a bride it been she who had "dragged" Benjamin ... to dances and dinners – now conditions were reversed. She went out socially with him, but without enthusiasm, devoured already by that eternal inertia which comes to live with each of us one day and stays with us to the end.”

This quote is one of the few in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which ground the story in reality. This commentary on mortality makes the tale more than just fantasy. The process of aging and nearing the end is like inertia, slowing the body’s motion down until we eventually pass away. It’s a grim thought, but death is inevitable. Life, death, and existence are central themes in this short story. Benjamin’s curious case gives us a new perspective on the whole process and prompts us, perhaps, to give thought to the meaning of our own lives.

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