Consider Fitzgerald's use of symbolism. Choose one symbol, and analyze it in detail.

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most recognizable, prominent symbols throughout the novel is the green light situated at the end of Daisy's dock, which is across from Gatsby's home. Jay Gatsby ritually stands at the edge of his lawn and gazes at the green light across the water. At the end of chapter 1, Nick Carraway witnesses Gatsby standing with his arms outstretched staring in the direction of the green light coming from Daisy's dock. The green light symbolizes Gatsby's hopes and dreams. Gatsby's goal is to win Daisy's affection and eventually live a fulfilling life with her, which is what motivates him to become wealthy and successful. His obsession with staring at the green light represents his hope in a future with Daisy. In chapter 5, Gatsby reintroduces himself to Daisy and shows her around his mansion, which impresses her. When Jay Gatsby believes he has attained his goal of winning Daisy's affection, Nick says,

Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one (Fitzgerald, 56).

In addition to symbolizing Gatsby's hope in a future with Daisy, the green light also represents everything that Gatsby craves, particularly money. The light connotes money, and the color green also holds symbolic significance throughout the novel. At the end of the novel, Nick reminisces about Gatsby staring at the green light dreaming of one day attaining his goals. Unfortunately, Gatsby was too naive to realize that his goals were unattainable. Nick ends the novel by saying,

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning— (Fitzgerald, 87).

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The Great Gatsby

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