The Great Gatsby describes Gatsby as follows: “He had intended, probably, to take what he could and go—but now he found that he had committed himself to the following of a grail.” How does...

The Great Gatsby describes Gatsby as follows: “He had intended, probably, to take what he could and go—but now he found that he had committed himself to the following of a grail.” How does this allusion add meaning to the reader’s understanding of Gatsby’s dream?

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mdelmuro | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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This passage occurs when Nick flashes back to the first time Gatsby and Daisy kissed "under false pretenses" when his poverty was hidden by the fact that he was in the military. At this point in Gatsby's life, he was "a penniless young man without a past, and at any moment the invisible cloak of his uniform might slip from his shoulders."

During this part of the novel, it's clear Gatsby had the intention of sleeping with Daisy, or taking "what he could and go." It's important to remember that before Daisy, Gatsby became "contemptuous" of the women he knew, "of young virgins because they were ignorant, of the others because they were hysterical about things which in his overwhelming self-absorption he took for granted." But Gatsby fell in love with Daisy as he "didn't realize just how extraordinary a 'nice' girl could be."

However, it's not clear whether Gatsby was in love with Daisy or with her wealthy lifestyle. Much of Nick's description in the following passages have to do with Daisy's home. According to Nick, Daisy "vanished into her rich house" and when he shows up two days later "[h]er porch was bright with the bought luxury of star-shine."

As a result of his surprise with her, Daisy became Gatsby's "grail," someone to quest for. Gatsby undertakes all of his trials—war and illegal doing—in order to make himself worthy for her. But like the knights' quests from the Holy Grail, Gatsby's quest ended in failure and resulted in his death.

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