How is the theme of restlessness and impermanence portrayed and communicated across in the novel The Great Gatsby? Thanks!

Expert Answers
gkopf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several examples of these themes throughout the novel.  


  1. Impermanence is shown in both concrete and abstract ways.  The first concrete example of impermanence is Gatsby's parties.  Gatsby's parties are elaborate, expensive, and over the top.  He orders huge amounts of food, drink, and always has entertainment prepared.  Many people come to these parties, whether invited or not.  However, they never truly stay.  They come for the party, and leave the next day, and are not close friends of Gatsby.  None of them really know who Gatsby even is.  There are so many rumors about him that it is clear he has no close friends.  For example: "Somebody told me he killed a man once," one guest gossips.  The parties are short-lived and the guests never stay.
  2. Impermanence is also shown in the characters' relationships.  Daisy and Gatsby's affair doesn't last long due to Daisy's restlessness and indecisiveness.  Nick's only true friend, Gatsby, can't stay in his life forever either, as he is killed at the end of the novel.  

Restlessness is also represented in the characters' actions and relationships.

  1. Nick moves to New York to learn the bond business instead of staying in his hometown.
  2. There are a number of references to infidelity due to restlessness.  Tom has an affair with Myrtle, and Daisy has an affair with Gatsby.  Both these relationships are fleeting.
  3. Daisy is perhaps the most restless character in the novel.  She is not really happy with Tom, who has a wandering eye, but when she has a chance at love with Gatsby, she returns to Tom.  
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The Great Gatsby

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