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Could you please explain me the meaning of the word "hint" in the phrase "satisfactory...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:35 PM via web

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Could you please explain me the meaning of the word "hint" in the phrase "satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality" in the following excerpt of the chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby?

For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing.

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 23, 2013 at 1:14 PM (Answer #2)

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We might replace "hint" with the word "indication" or "sign" and maintain the same meaning in the sentence. 

It is important to note that the hint is only enough to satisfy Gatsby's ambitious dreaming for a while. The hint should be linked to the idea of promise and a sense of destiny. Nick links Gatsby to these ideas in the first chapter:

If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life...

In Chapter 6, Nick reinforces this idea by finally sharing Gatsby's back-story, which is characterized by striving, hoping, and believing in his own positive destiny.

This chapter also explores how Gatsby turned his back on his roots, his family, and his name, opting for transformation. This, in part, is the cost of his success. 

Despite the costs, once Gatsby sees that he can indeed find success along the path he is following - once he recognizes the "hints of the unreality of reality" - Gatsby can invest himself in his dream.

Life is unreal enough to allow dreams a place in it.


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macbeth110 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:43 PM (Answer #1)

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The word hint here is referring to a small taste. It is saying that his fantasies gave him a taste of what could be.

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