"Okay, you have a pretty good handle on the story. So lets talk about the theme of the Great Gatsby. What do you think it is?" Elizabeth glances at Murty, but says nothing. "Liz?"
She swallows hard. "I, uh, think it deals a lot with, um, the American Dream, and how it isnt always as good as its supposed to be."
Murty nods. "Okay, dig a little deeper. How does Fitzgerald show this?"
"Well, Gatsby lies and cheats his way to a fortune. Hes a bootlegger and he deals with the mob, and thats not the idea of the "pure" American Dream."
"Well, all the impure and immoral people have the money. Gatsby, Meyer Wolfsheim and all those people. Daisy has money but she isnt one of the noveau riche."
"Thats right Moving on, lets talk about the women in the novel. Tell me about Jordan Baker."
Elizabeth glances at him. "Jordan?"
Murty stares at Elizabeth. "Yes, Jordan. You do remember who she is, dont you."
Flustered, Elizabeth turns red. "Yes, I remember who she is," she retorts. "Jordan Baker is the character that connects Nick to Gatsby and Gatsby to Daisy."
"Anything else?" Elizabeth stares at him, sullen. Murty sighs. "You know I really dont have to be doing this Elizabeth. I have better things to be doing with my time than tutoring someone who obviously doesnt want to be here. I could be reading a book, watching tv, jogging in the park"
"--Shes a golfer," Elizabeth interjects, "which was uncommon in the 20s. Shes a bit of a party girl. And shes careless. Shes a really bad driver." She slides the knife out of her pocket.
Murty grins, victorious. "And why is that significant?"
"Because she says she hates careless people."
Murty smiles. "Good job. Now tell me about Daisy, the love of Gatsbys life."
"Shes money-hungry. She only wants a man who has a fortune and fame. Gatsby devotes his entire life to her, trying to win her back," Elizabeth says. "Shes so shallow. I mean, Tom bought her love with a necklace, and Gatsby won her over with a fancy house and a nice wardrobe."
"I take it you dont approve of Daisy?," Murty asks.
Elizabeth shakes her head. "You cant buy love or manipulate it... you have to earn it." She smiles slightly, getting lost in her thoughts. "Sometimes you fall in love at first sight, but sometimes, it takes awhile for you to realize whats happening."
"You sound like youre speaking from experience."
Elizabeths blood runs cold and her face becomes stony. "What do you mean?"
"Well, its pretty obvious to me that young Lucky Spencer is very enamored of you. Im always seeing you two together, in the park, the docks, at Kellys If I didnt know better Id think youre following me," he smiles, staring at Liz.
"I dont want to talk about this," she says shakily, opening the blade on the knife.
"Im sorry," Murty replies, still smiling. "Not another word will be spoken on the love this session, I promise." Liz feels paralyzed with fear. "Well, it seems to me like youve got a pretty good handle on The Great Gatsby. How about a two page essay on the significance of symbols in the book? Pick one of these three: the Valley of Ashes, the green light or the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg. Also, I need you to read A Streetcar Named Desire for next timeand no going out and renting the film version, okay?"
Elizabeth shakes off her fear. "Fine." She discreetly close the knife, sliding it back into her pocket. "Can I go now?"
"I dont know, can you?"
Elizabeth glares at him. "May I?"
"Sure. Just one thing. Have you thought about what we talked about last week?"
Elizabeth starts to walk out of the room. "I dont remember what we talked about last week," she lies, backing towards the door.
Murty shrugs. "Have it your way, Elizabeth. Just remember what I said. Theres nothing wrong with having a crush."
Elizabeth turns the knob and starts to walk out the door. "Yeah, right."
She leaves the room, walking briskly down the hall. Lucky appears in the doorway. She races through the door into his arms, almost knocking him over.
"What happened? What did he do to you?," Lucky spits, holding Liz close to him.
She pulls back, shaking her head. "Nothing, he did nothing, except he kept giving me these weird smiles . They made my skin crawl I dont understand, last week, he was talking about rape, and crushes and this week "
"Well, did he say anything?" Lucky searches her face. "Honey, did he say anything that we can use?"
Elizabeth shrugs. "I cant even remember All I know is that I was on edge around him, and I pulled the knife out, but then things were better." She pulls the mini-recorder out of her pocket. "You can listen for yourself."
They start walking, heading towards the boxcar, hand in hand.
To be continued...