The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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How is Jay Gatsby a character who is not only realistic as a person but who has symbolic significance in the text as a whole in The Great Gatsby? How does Fitzgerald make us aware of both aspects?

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Gatsby is seen for the first time in the narrative in a symbolic pose, standing on his balcony in the night with arms outstretched and open, reaching for something that is not there. 

This image reinforces the dreamlike quality of this hero on a quest to attain his dream. (eNotes)

This vision of Gatsby immediately suggests his character's symbolic significance or symbolic aspect. As the story progresses details and accounts of Gatsby's life render him as a realistic person, with a history, a heart, and an income. 

Details of his experiences with Dan Cody and his time abroad serve to create a reality and fullness to his character along with the more present details of his personality that Nick encounters in conversation with Gatsby and describes in the narrative.

Despite the growing friendship between Nick and Gatsby and the emergence of realistic details of Gatsby's life and character, Gatsby remains set...

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