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The green light that Gatsby is staring at assumes a symbolic significance. What does it...

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kwak1450 | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted September 5, 2012 at 1:21 PM via web

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The green light that Gatsby is staring at assumes a symbolic significance. What does it symbolize?

I need help because I'm writing an essay about symbols in The Great Gatsby and need to know what the green light symbolizes.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 5, 2012 at 4:09 PM (Answer #1)

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The green light represents the American dream in The Great Gatsby. For Gatsby, this green light, located at the dock near Daisy's house, represents Daisy herself. The light is like a lighthouse for Gatsby. He stares at it as if it were a guide and a goal. It is a beacon for his Holy Grail. Daisy is the Grail. 

Gatsby felt he needed to make money in order to be able to marry Daisy. Since obtaining money was the large part of his quest to get close to Daisy, Gatsby associates love with money. The color green represents the dream and the corrupt way he went about achieving that dream. In Chapter 7, Gatsby directly makes this association, saying that Daisy's voice is "full of money." This sparks a revelation for Nick. 

That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money—that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it. . . . high in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl. . . . 

The color green initially symbolizes the dream and the association with money. But, it eventually symbolizes the elusive nature of the dream. In the final chapter, the dream is described as always just beyond one's reach. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us." 

It also symbolizes corruption and death. Describing the "death car" to the policeman, Michaelis called it "light green." Green is a complicated, paradoxical symbol representing life, love, dreams, money, and death. 

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darshika25 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted September 7, 2012 at 8:10 PM (Answer #2)

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The green light is very symbolical in the story...when Nick first see Gatsby at his place,he was about to go and talk to him but at that particular time,he saw him pointing his finger at the green light across the bay. That green light is his dream,his love and his hope:that green light represents Daisy.When Gatsby pointed his finger at the green light,this signifies that he wants to aquire the love of his life: he wants to have Daisy.He tries to grasp the green light but in the end of the story...he could not.

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