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Why does Fitzgerald have the Owl-Eyed Man attend Gatsby's funeral? What might he...

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nickchris | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 12, 2009 at 7:48 AM via web

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Why does Fitzgerald have the Owl-Eyed Man attend Gatsby's funeral? What might he represent?

Chapter 9

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 12, 2009 at 8:19 AM (Answer #1)

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The Owl-Eyed Man is similar to the billboard for Dr. T. J. Eckleburg with the "all-seeing" eyes.  Both symbolize an uninvolved, spectator god.  They watch all the activities of the humans struggling below, but don't comment on them or try to correct wrongs or lessen burdens. While Owl-Eyes does make a comment about Gatsby's real books earlier in the novel, he still provides Nick with no advice or significant knowledge about Gatsby.  He simply makes his observation and leaves it up to Nick to draw his own conclusions.

His presence as one of the few people who actually attend Gatsby's funeral could demonstrate "God's" watching when humans are put to rest or could mean that in all his observing of Gatsby, he at least thought that Gatsby was worthy of his presence at his burial.

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted November 19, 2014 at 4:40 PM (Answer #2)

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The owl is seen as an all knowing animal. They are thought of as very intelligent. Owls are symbols of wisdom and great sight. Some people see owls as an omen of death.

Fitzgerald had the owl eyed man show up at Gatsby's funeral for a couple of reasons. When we first see the owl eyed man, is at the party Gatsby has thrown and invited Nick to. The man is surprised when he realizes Gatsby's books are real books. This shows us that the man in intelligent and just thought that Gatsby was very superficial. So many people showed up at these parties and enjoyed Gatsby's wealth. They had no problem taking advantage of him. As long as he was throwing parties and spending money, people flocked around him. When he dies, Nick has a hard time finding anyone to come to the funeral. Tom and Daisy have gone on a trip. Gatsby's father comes to the funeral. His father, Nick and the owl eyed man are there. There are also a few servants that have shown up. It is a great symbol of the character of the people in town. They completely took advantage of Gatsby and didn't even care when he died. 

It is very interesting that the owl eyed man is the only one from the parties, that shows up. He saw the real person that Gatsby was. He was there to pay his respects to the man, not the one everyone wanted. Fitzgerald had the owl eyed man at the funeral, because he was the only one in this society that saw the real Gatsby.

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