how would you interpret the violent death of Gatsby at the end of the novel?

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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gatsby's death may be seen as symbolic of a number of different kinds of moral themes or endings. The Jazz Age, which encompassed the decadent, dissolute lifestyle seen at Gatsby's parties, would soon come to a close with the stock market crash and the Great Depression. Gatsby's death being violent also suggests the death of a martyr, someone who is noble and who dies for a cause: in this case, Gatsby's heroic efforts to build up wealth and win Daisy's love makes him a sort of hero and his death then becomes tragic. But Gatsby's careless behavior after Daisy's accident also suggests he is self-centered and dispassionate, which could open up the possibility that his death is a form of just punishment.

mhennawi | Student

At the beginning of the novel, before Nick begins to relate the story, he professes that he no longer wants 'private glimpses into the human heart.' However, he also states that Gatsby was exempt from this 'moral attention.' This is because Gatsby despite his involvement in underhanded business deals, he had purity about him-his sincere and honest desire to win the hand of his love, Daisy. This is his dream and as his dream dies, he also must die. His death gives him nobility. The reader can forgive his corrupt life style since his dream is real and wonderfully human. Through his death we respect his humanity, the depth of his spirit. We realise that in part Nick is correct, it may be better to reserve judgment, it may be acceptable to withhold moral judgment when dealing with people. Gatsby gives the reader 'infinite hope' that dreams can indeed be realised until we actually realise through Gatsby's death that there are consequences, in this case;death. We also realise through Gatsby's death that no human being can ever control his own destiny as Gatsby never expected Daisy to refuse his offer of an all- consuming love, nor could he ever have envisaged how Murtle's death would indirectly cause his own death. This was not part of his plan. Such is the tragedy of Gatsby who is not so great after all.

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The Great Gatsby

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