To start with, let’s take a look at the similarities between Jay Gatsby and Holly Golightly. Attractive, charismatic and enigmatic? Check. Connection with organised crime? Check. Penchant for hosting parties and affected speech inflections (old sport/darling)? Check/check. Cessation of said parties once romance blossoms? Check. Humble origins, changes of identity, driven by dreams and ideals leading ultimately to death and exile? Check, check, check, check.
Then there are the technical similarities between the two novels. Gatsby and Holly are both subjects of first-person narratives, the narrators being (let’s be brutally honest here) a pair of non-entities living vicariously through the lives of their more glamorous neighbours. Nick Carraway and the unnamed narrator of B@T (who for ease of reference I’m going to follow Holly’s example and call Fred) are new arrivals to New York, their outsider status described using strikingly similar imagery. From The Great Gatsby we have arguably the most beautiful passage in a novel brimming with beautiful passages:
“At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others – poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner – young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.”
Holly’s summation of Fred is a little more succinct:
“He wants awfully to be on the inside staring out: anybody with their nose pressed against the glass is liable to look stupid.”