Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
Author's Note: Hello, YWS! This is basically a short script I wrote for my English class but it was really something pretty fun to write. It's a dialogue between Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger and Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby (shocker there) by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Basically, I had to come up with a dialogue between two characters which identify with parts of myself and they had to engage in some sort of debate over life and how to live it. This was an awesome introspective writing experience for me. If you've read (and love) both these novels, this is for you. Enjoy! :)
Disclaimer: The requirements for the assignment lead me to incorporate quotes from four different literary works, all of which are cited at the bottom. ;)
The Realest Phony of Them All
Gatsby: Morning, Old Sport! It’s quite a day for an outing on the hydroplane, wouldn’t you say?
Holden: You talkin’ to me, old man?
Gatsby: Well, Old Sport I don’t seem to see anyone else around here at the moment. You certainly look as though an outing on the hydroplane would do you a great deal of good.
Holden: Wait, what is that supposed to mean? Oh, forget it. What’s this “Old Sport” business? I’m about a fourth as old as you and I don’t play any sports. As a matter of fact I lost the fencing team’s foils on the subway. Those phonies even went and missed their meet!
Gatsby: I see that gives you an awful lot of laughter, Old Sport.
Holden: Stop calling me that!
Gatsby: Stop calling you what, Old Sport.
Holden: “Old Sport”! That’s just about the phoniest thing I’ve ever heard.
Gatsby: My apologies, Old Sport. I seem to have neglected to introduce myself.
Holden: ...I don’t think an introduction will be necess-
Gatsby: Jay Gatsby at your service. I come from a wealthy family out in the heartland of the Middle West. I’m also an Oxford man. You see my whole family has attended Oxford.
Holden: Um, that’s great but-
Gatsby: I spent time in combat as a U.S. Army major in the Great War and was even decorated with this Medal For Valour Extraordinary from Montenegro.
Holden: I really should be going now.
Gatsby: I’ve got lots of money too, Old Sport. Quite a lot.
Holden: You don’t say!
Gatsby: Ah, but I do say, Old Sport.
Holden: Alright well how far is it to this hydroplane of yours?
Gatsby: Not too far. I’m situated in West Egg, just through the Valley of Ashes.
Holden: Your house is in an egg? The valley of what?
Gatsby: I don’t know. There’s a service station there. There’s an awful lot of dust too, Old Sport.
Holden: Whatever. I’m down.
Holden: Good God Almighty! Your place is enormous and this boat is just about the only boat I don’t think is stupid in my nihilistic and angsty adolescent way.
Gatsby: Yes. Yes it is.
Holden: Who the hell needs all this? These are such beautiful shirts. I might just cry.
Gatsby: It’s all for a good cause, Old Sport. A divine cause.
Holden: I’ve got to be honest with you. I don’t know what the hell you’re saying half of the time...What’s that little blinky-looking thing? It’s messing up my view.
Gatsby: That, Old Sport, is the Green Light, the living manifestation of an incorruptible dream; the signal that beckons me to my place in the universe and awakens me to my purpose. It’s my entire reason for being here.
Holden: You’re a weird dude you know that? It’s just sort of annoying is what it is.
Gatsby: No. It’s Daisy.
Holden: Something about the way you said that tells me she’s married.
Gatsby: Not for long.
Holden: *cringes* Let’s change the subject here. I guess it’s about time I came clean and introduced myself, too. Holden Caulfield at your service. I come from a family I hate due to my adolescent blindness and hormonal imbalances. I left them because they didn’t like that I flunked four classes and smoke all the time.
Gatsby: I never would have guessed you to be a runaway. This whole thing you’ve got going on seems perfectly justified. You’re hat’s pretty snazzy, too, Old Sport.
Holden: You really think so?
Holden: Whatever. I wouldn’t expect a phony like you to understand. Your whole life is a facade.
Gatsby: What ever do you mean, Old Sport?
Holden: First of all there’s that “Old Sport” crap. Stop it. It’s not convincing. Besides, what Oxford man wears a pink suit? The parties you throw, too! How could you just invite all of New York to your place every single night all on the hope that this lady comes walking in?
Gatsby: You should know, Old Sport, that one without blind hopes is one without a dream. Everyone has to have a dream because having a dream is what will keep you going when it looks as though every last shred of motivation has left you. “No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.” (The Great Gatsby, 96)
Holden: Forget the “Old Sport” thing. That’s the phoniest thing I’ve ever heard.
Gatsby: Ah, but it’s true, Old Sport. I was just like you once; lost, alone, and without anything but the clothes on my back. I often thought to myself that nothing really mattered.
Holden: Well, you were right! Everything we do; no, everything anyone does is just an act to impress someone else or get something out of it. The world is just such a phony place. Everyone’s gonna die eventually and purpose is nothing but an illusion. Everyone’s a phony and you’re the father of them all!
Gatsby: I quite pity you, Old Sport. I’ve never been a father before. Why don’t you tell me a bit more about your deprived and dreamless existence?
Holden: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” (The Catcher in The Rye, 3)
Gatsby: Very good, Old Sport. I actually just wanted to get your input on the question of dreams.
Holden: That sounds like something a top-notch phony would want to hear. I can’t wait to see the look on your face when you hear what I saw the other day.
Gatsby: Very well, Old Sport. Proceed.
Holden: I was sitting by myself and having a smoke at one of the clubs on Main Street. All of a sudden, this phony of a lady walks in and sits down in the booth beside mine.
She took off her jacket and studied the menu feverishly. She called [a waiter over] and ordered her whole meal all at once, in a voice that was clear and very fast at the same time. While she was waiting for her first course, she opened her bag, took out a slip of paper and a pencil, added up the bill in advance, then took the exact amount, plus tip, out of a vest pocket and set it down on the table in front of her. At that point the waiter brought her first course and she gulped it down While waiting for the next course, she again took out of her bag a blue pencil and a magazine that listed the radio programs for the week. One by one, with great care, she checked off almost every program. Since the magazine was about a dozen pages long, she meticulously continued this task throughout the meal. I had already finished and she was still checking away with the same zeal. Then she stood up, put her jacket back on with the same robotlike movements, and left. (The Stranger, 42)
Gatsby: I find it hella creepy that you watched her eat her lunch so closely, Old Sport.
Holden: And I find it hella creepy that you moved here for the purpose of wooing a married woman.
Gatsby: Touche. Even so, what about this lady bothered you so much, Old Sport?
Holden: Well, she seemed like she had direction. She had a goal; somewhere to be and something to do. It seemed like she had purpose in everything she did and she was remarkably efficient in working towards those goals. It was a horribly phony sight to behold.
Gatsby: I see. But how can you be threatened by someone with goals and a purpose? Everyone should have them, no matter how simple or how lofty they may be. Sometimes the most unattainable dreams are the best kind because you get to keep reaching for them.
Holden: But if you’ll never reach them why would you want to keep living? That’s just such a phony ideology. I’d rather just have a good cigarette and maybe a nice cold beer than chase after some lousy dream.
Gatsby: The challenge, Old Sport. It’s what makes a dream remarkable. The challenge of fulfilling it is what gives it life and, in turn, gives its holder life, too. I happen to know an awful lot of people like you. They see the world on an entirely sensory level with nothing more to reach for than physical pleasure. *cough cough* Tom Buchanan! Their intoxication of body and mind is paid for by the deprivation of their souls. “O brave new world that has such people in it.” (Brave New World, 160)
Holden: It’s still a phony idea and you’re still King of the Phonies in my book.
Gatsby: Do you really mean to tell me that you’ve never had a dream, Old Sport?
Holden: ...Well, I once liked this girl who lived next door to me. Then I liked this other girl I knew from Pencey. That’s about it.
Gatsby: So you’ve never wanted anything else but a romantic companion?
Holden: Watch it there, buddy. Don’t go lecturing me about romantic prioritization! You’re the one who’s only made himself a fortune to try to win back a woman who isn’t even worth his time.
Gatsby: You’ve missed my point entirely, Old Sport. It’s not about her. None of it is. It’s about the dream. My dream. The dream I have cultivated for myself ever since my days in the dregs of poverty. Now surely you cannot sit here, looking out across the bay to the Green Light and tell me that you can’t see a dream of your own floating somewhere within its radiant stream of verdant luminescence.
Holden: That was deep, man…
Gatsby: As a hole to China.
Holden: I guess there’s one thing I dream about.
Holden: My kid sister, Phoebe’s been real sick lately. I wish I could make her feel better, but I’m afraid to go back home. More than anything I want her to stay a little kid and not to let this illness force her to grow up too soon. I don’t want her to become like me.
Gatsby: I see. Then this sister of yours is your Green Light; the unattainable dream that pulls you through each day and puts you right back on the saddle when life flings you off course?
Holden: I-I guess you could say that.
Gatsby: I’m just glad I could help you see that, Old Sport. I’m just glad I could help you find your Green Light. The dream was inside of you the whole time.
Holden: Don’t push it, old man. I guess you’re right though. It’s awfully tough living as we do, you know; chasing the Green Light. How are we supposed to stay strong and make it across the bay if we haven’t got a chance at ever reaching it? It’s just so hard sometimes.
Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly back into the past.”, always remembering that the future is where our dreams will come to life. (The Great Gatsby, 180)
Holden: You know something, Mr. Gatsby?
Gatsby: What’s that, Old Sport?
Holden: You may be the King of the Phonies, but you’re the realest phony of them all.
My conversation with Mr. Gatsby was still fresh in my mind as I began to make my way back to Central Park. Every part of me knew that man was no good and he never did stop calling me Old Sport. I was sure by the end of our talk that he had won the Medal For Phoniness Extraordinary from Montenegro as well. Even so, he hadn’t been wrong. I did have a dream. Everyone did. No matter how much I wanted to believe so, Gatsby wasn’t really the blind-sighted idiot I had thought he was. Surely no good could come of his pursuit of Mrs. Buchanan but surely nothing at all could come of my unwillingness to pursue anything. No, my unwillingness to admit that I also had a dream that was worth pursuing. I guess we’re all phonies when you really think about. At least that’s what I’d say if having a dream makes you a phony.
As I sat upon the grimy bench in the middle of Central Park, I could feel my eyelids grow heavier and heavier by the second. Mr. Gatsby’s words about his love for Daisy and his disdain for the base nature of high society danced wildly through the uncultivated fields of my mind. Before I knew it, I was back in the hydroplane, looking out across the bay towards the flickering of the Green Light. Just beyond it’s dock, I saw something that I had not expected to see for a very long time. There sat Phoebe waving happily to me in the distance, an ear-to-ear smile upon her face. All of a sudden, I knew that I couldn’t wait for the Green Light to come to me. I would have to go find it. I would have to find Phoebe and save her from the world that had swallowed me up like a sweet summer fruit. I would have to become the Catcher in the Rye.
The Works Cited
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York City: Scribner, 2004. 96, 180. Print.
Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. New York City: Back Bay Books / Little Brown
and Company, July 1951. 3. Print.
Camus, Albert. The Stranger. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf of Random House Inc,
1993. 42. Print.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York City: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 2006.