At two o’clock Gatsby put on his bathing-suit and left word with the butler that if any one phoned word was to be brought to him at the pool.

from F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby (Chapter VIII) on Rap Genius

Meaning

One of the major separations between Old Wealth and New Wealth is how New Wealth buys things to be seen, but never actually uses them.

What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop, too- didn’t cut the pages.”

      **-Owl Eyes (Fitzgerald 46)**

Gatsby built a fantastic, Gothic library and filled it with real books. Most members of the New Wealth class fill the shelves with pieces of wood painted to look like books, because they will never use them. However Gatsby tries to appear like a member of the highest class by buying real books, replicating their behavior. However, Gatsby has never read any of the books, as he hasn’t yet “cut the pages.” In older forms of bookbinding, the pages were printed on pages four times the size of the book to make production faster. The book then would have multiple pages attached together at the bottom of the page, which the reader would have to tear or “cut.”

An old book with uncut pages

Without cutting these pages, Gatsby is exemplifying his attempt to copy Old Wealth, but he doesn’t actually read the books, showing that he is not truly Old Wealth.

To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “The Great Gatsby (Chapter VIII)” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and leave a comment on the lyrics box