Explain Nick's quote. Can this quote serve as a theme for the novel? How? In Chapter 5 of The Great Gatsby, the following quote was said; "As I went over to say good-by I saw the expression of...

Explain Nick's quote. Can this quote serve as a theme for the novel? How?

In Chapter 5 of The Great Gatsby, the following quote was said; "As I went over to say good-by I saw the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby's face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness."

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Towards the end of chapter 5, Jay Gatsby is entertaining Daisy in his mansion after meeting her for the first time in five years. Over the last five years, Gatsby has recreated himself into a wealthy businessman in order to win Daisy's heart again. In Gatsby's mind, he envisions Daisy as the perfect woman in every sense of the word. However, Gatsby has created an illusion in his mind that Daisy will never be able to live up to or fulfill. While Nick Carraway watches Jay Gatsby entertain Daisy, he mentions,

As I went over to say good-by I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. (Fitzgerald, 51)

Gatsby's "faint doubt" and appearance that he has questioned his happiness illustrates the theme of illusion vs. reality throughout the novel. After entertaining Daisy for the first time in five years, Gatsby is slightly underwhelmed. He has created an illusion of Daisy that cannot compete with her physical self. Gatsby's grandiose perception of his perfect, ideal reintroduction with Daisy falls short of his imagined scenario.

Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald explores how various characters create illusions in their mind to protect their emotions and motivate them to attain success. The theme of illusion vs. reality also corresponds to the theme of the American Dream. Essentially, Gatsby believes that he will be able to buy happiness, which is not the case. Similar to how Gatsby believes that his financial success will result in a loving relationship with Daisy, his illusion of Daisy's perfection does not equate to reality.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

ABSOLUTELY this can serve as a theme for the book! If you are writing a paper about the American Dream or the purpose of Fitzgerald's work, you have selected a very effective quote!

Nick says this after Gatsby has restored his love with Daisy and Nick was getting ready to leave Gatsby's home after Gatsby showed Daisy all around it.

This quote demonstrates that once a person on a quest achieves their purpose, there may be a type of let-down. It's sort of like the fact that some people get in love with being in love, but not the person they think they are in love with. Teams work for district and state championships, and the journey is fulfilling, but once it's over, it's over. Now that Gatsby has Daisy he is no longer being fulfilled by the pursuit.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this chapter, Gatsby has just managed to have his meeting with Daisy, to see her again after all these years.  They seem to have fallen in love all over again and so Gatsby ought to be happy.

In this quote, though, Nick is saying that Gatsby thinks that his happiness at this point might not be real.

I think this is a good quote to sum up the whole novel.  In this book, Gatsby spends his whole life chasing after something.  He is chasing money and prestige and Daisy.  But none of that stuff, in the end, actually makes him happy.  Fitzgerald is saying that all the things that people are trying to chase in this era, their American dreams, are really fairly pointless and will not make them happy.

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The Great Gatsby

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