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I'd like to know the meaning of "rag of a suit" in the Chapter Eight of The Great...

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coutelle | Valedictorian

Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:11 AM via web

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I'd like to know the meaning of "rag of a suit" in the Chapter Eight of The Great Gatsby. Does it refer to the phrase "to go from rags to riches"?

"His gorgeous pink rag of a suit made a bright spot of color against the white steps and I thought of the night when I first came to his ancestral home three months before."

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 22, 2013 at 1:03 AM (Answer #1)

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After his vigil under Daisy's window in the rain, "watching over nothing," at the end of Chapter Seven, Jay Gatsby returns home; in Chapter Eight, seeing his door open, Nick crosses the lawn and finds an exhausted and dejected Gatsby leaning on the table, his pink linen suit soaked from the rain. Gatsby wants to talk, so Nick listens to the tale of the romance of Jay Gatsby and Daisy, a tale that concludes with Gatsby's knowledge that

...he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever.

Symbolic of this lost of the "freshest and the best" is Gatsby's "gorgeous pink rag of a suit" that once "conceal[ed] his incorruptible dream." His is a pink suit to suggest romantic dreams; a "rag" because this dream unworthy of Gatsby who is better than the "rotten crowd" has been destroyed by Daisy's selfish retreat into her material wealth with Tom. Perhaps, in a reversal of the old expression of "rags to riches," Gatsby now has gone from riches to "rags"--the tatters of an illusory dream.
 

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