Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Evolution of Toys

I bought a new car; it is the first new car that I have ever owned.

It is green ... the kind of green that prompted my grandmother, the day after she first saw it, to write me an email asking permission to name it the Green Hornet; permission granted.

When I picked up the Green Hornet from the dealer, I was struck by the irony of the situation; here I was buying a brand new bright green car while simultaneously teaching Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in senior honors English. Gatsby is a symbolic novel, and may be best remembered for the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, which serves as a beacon for Gatsby's romantic, albeit naive, optimism. The 1920s American automobile is also used in symbolic fashion as a metaphoric vehicle for rebellious self-indulgence - speeding past landscapes of the materially wealthy and spiritually poor until all that is left is a blur of moral irresponsibility. In the end, Gatsby's rose-tinged longing for the past spectacularly crashes head-first into an ash-grey wall of reality, constructed from the burnt-up reminents of the American dream.

As Americans, our fascination with "stuff" starts at an early age. When I was growing up in the 1980s, every kid wanted a "Green Machine" - a three wheeler by Huffy with serious pizazz. Thinking back, I can almost hear those oversized black plastic wheels chewing up driveway concrete, and the joyful squeels of excitement from rider and onlookers alike. I think somehow we have misinterpreted those childhood memories - we remember the toys more than the experiences, and try to regain those innocent delightful feelings by acquiring things rather than enjoying moments.

Cars can be symbols for traveling back to the past or hurrying into the future; both trips however have the same destination: to transport us away from the hurts and insecurities of the present. So as I set out for new adventures in my Green Hornet, I will try my best to drive toward a place of fresh possibilities rather than following detours back to a land of worn-out dreams.

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic 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 one fine morning -- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" The Great Gatsby


  1. Hi there....
    Me thinks you have a bit of the writer in you....and I remember too the noise of your wheels!!!...holly

  2. Congrats on the new car and a well written comentary. We've all seen the bumper sticker, "he who dies with the most toys, wins". Well if you ask me, he who dies with the most toys is still dead, just like the rest of us. As someone who has been trying to get rid of more "stuff" than most people, it continues to be a struggle. We are daily bombarded with temptation. My weakness, electronics. But when you can only retain as much stuff as you can fit in a couple of suitcases then it does tend to simplify matters. Alan

  3. Thanks guys! You two have always been ahead of the curve :)