When is a door not a door?/When it's a jar. That was my favorite childhood riddle, evoked by today's Gatsby sentence. There's that door that Mr. Gatz opened, and yet it's his mouth, not the door, that's ajar.
Gatz... it's a name like an expletive, an expletive seemingly concocted out the name Gatsby. Who is this debased alter ego of the main character? I can't say, because the Gatsby project is all about looking at one isolated sentence. Our sentence is isolated, like a tear leaking unpunctually from one of Gatz's eyes.
So here's Gatz, the man with a name like an expletive, not that anything's coming out of his open — ajar — mouth. We hear a lot about his face — it's flushed slightly — and that mouth is ajar, and then there are those crying eyes. But what a way to describe crying eyes: leaking isolated and unpunctual tears.
That the tears are isolated and unpunctual sheds — sheds! — light on the beginning of the sentence: After a little while. This sentence is all about delay. There's the little while before Gatz emerges, and there are the belated — unpunctual — tears. Gatz acts: He opens the door. But he doesn't do the action of crying. His eyes are the subject of the verb, but even his eyes don't cry. They leak. A strangely passive sort of crying. And those tears, they're not only failing to live up to the requirements of timeliness — being unpunctual — they are also isolated. Isolated... not merely minimal, but also lonely.
Isolated is a word that appears only one other time in "The Great Gatsby": "They were gone, without a word, snapped out, made accidental, isolated, like ghosts, even from our pity." Ah, but that's another sentence!