urban distaste for the concrete

p. 54:

‘Anyhow he gives large parties,’ said Jordan, changing the subject with an urban distaste for the concrete.

Among the class distinctions that haunt Fitzgerald, and therefore this novel, is the divide between the straightforward mien of the Midwest and the slick sophistication of the Eastern cities.  Saying exactly what you mean is looked down upon by the city elite, precisely because it is a sign of naivete.  They’d like to think that those with fast minds and agile imaginations prefer to deal in subtleties, inferences and innuendo.  By their logic, only a simpleton prefers the simple truth.

But beneath the distaste for truth is the fear that an honest opinion is unpopular, or that plain words would reveal their own ignorance.  For they were all newcomers to the city once, and they escaped the mark of the rube by hiding in obfuscations, hedging their way through false sophistication.  Urbanity is just a mask to hide your true face.

A rarity here, possibly unintentional, is the wordplay in “an urban distaste for the concrete.” Cities are made from concrete, couldn’t be built without it – just as society couldn’t survive without the hard facts, however unfashionable they may be.

All that said, the generalization that Jordan proceeds into is a classic:  ‘And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.’

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One thought on “urban distaste for the concrete

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