What are some of The Great Gatsby's most important symbols? 

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Some of the salient symbols from the novel are the light on East Egg and Gatsby's stock of shirts. 

Gatsby's tendency to dream and to yearn are expressed in his choice to buy a house that overlooked the glowing green light that marks East Egg. He gazes out at this literal beacon and feels that he is closing in on his dream that the light symbolizes for him - a dream of wealth and love. 

Later a scene that Nick watches between Gatsby and Daisy features a wealth of shirts. Daisy exclaims about how beautiful the shirts are. She seems to see in this moment that she did not need to rush into a marriage with Tom. She should have waited for Gatsby. He could have given her all she wanted - perhaps more than she now has - and he could have given her real love. 

The shirts represent the romantic and ideal alternative to reality that she and Gatsby both cling to for a time. 


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