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Could you please tell me the precise meaning of "quickening" in this excerpt from the...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted August 21, 2013 at 11:50 PM via web

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Could you please tell me the precise meaning of "quickening" in this excerpt from the chapter eight of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby?

"He was glad a little later when he noticed a change in the room, a blue quickening by the window, and realized that dawn wasn’t far off. About five o’clock it was blue enough outside to snap off the light."

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:08 AM (Answer #1)

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"Quickening," found in chapter eight of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, refers to the blue light outside shining brightly

In order to understand the word's meaning, placing the word in context can help. For example, "a little later" refers to the passage of time. Later in the quote, "it was blue enough" to "snap off" (turn off) the lights. Therefore, since natural light began to enter into the windows, the artificial lights of the room were not needed. The quickening means that it was getter brighter as dawn approached. 

On a side note, this reference plays into the theme of light and dark. Natural light shows things as they really are. Artificial light, on the other hand, can distort reality. 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 22, 2013 at 3:06 AM (Answer #2)

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In his masterpiece, The Great Gatsby color imagery is proliferate; the yellow and white associated with Daisy, for instance, green represents hope and life, and grey symbolizes waste and lifelessness. Interestingly, blue is associated with Gatsby more than any other color. Other than the sky, there is nothing in nature that is blue; therefore, blue is an illusory color. So, Gatsby's gardens are blue, his lawn is blue in Chapter Nine, and it is mixed with the "blue smoke of brittle leaves" and the birds sing among "the blue leaves." When the young Gatsby is with Dan Cody he is given a blue coat to wear.

In Chapter Eight, dreams are exposed as illusions. In the latter part of the chapter Michaelis talks with the distraught George Wilson; Michaelis feels "there was not enough of him for his wife."

He [Michalis] was glad a little later when he noticed a blue quickening by the window....About five l'clock it was blue enough outside to snap off the light.

Interestingly, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue, and these are the eyes that George Wilson thinks see what is going on.

Wilson stood there a long time, his face close to the window pane, nodding into the twilight.

In his illusions about Myrtle and Jay Gatsby, George stares out his window, planning his actions based upon an illusion.

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