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In the last few moments of chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby, after a day in which Gatsby’s romantic dream with Daisy dies in a climactic showdown with Tom Buchanan, Nick Carraway leaves Gatsby alone, “standing…in the moonlight – watching over nothing.” His watch, characterized by deliberately religious terminology – “scrutiny” and “sacredness of the vigil” – mirrors Nick’s first encounter with Gatsby soon after the latter moved to West Egg. There, one evening, Nick espies an oblivious Gatsby – his arms raised toward a distant green light, glowing at the end of an unseen dock across the water in East Egg. In a novel replete with symbols, the reader could remain content with the hallmark one of the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. Nick, the honest observer, himself says it represents “the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us”. Therefore, one could say that it also represents Gatsby’s projection of his wishes, his desire to annul the past, desperately “beat[ing] on…against the current” in the lovesick hope of attaining the dream that “recedes” beyond his grasp. In the first vigil, Gatsby’s future is a hopeful return to the past with Daisy; in the second, it is a return to a future, hopeless without the presence of Daisy.
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