Does "quiet" in the following excerpt from the Chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby mean "soft, subdued"? "The quiet lights in the houses were humming out into the darkness and there was a stir and...
Does "quiet" in the following excerpt from the Chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby mean "soft, subdued"?
"The quiet lights in the houses were humming out into the darkness and there was a stir and bustle among the stars."
This passage comes from the paragraph near the end of Chapter 6 that is after the one in which Gatsby searches for "some idea of himself" from the past that went into his love for Daisy which he can retrieve in order to recreate the romanticism of their earlier relationship and, thus, "repeat the past" with Daisy.
The next paragraph that begins with an ellipsis takes the reader into the consciousness of Gatsby as he returns to the past. In this paragraph, Fitzgerald paints a romanticized scene of Jay Gatsby's memory; therefore, all that is in this scene--the "sidewalk white with moonlight," the coolness of the air, the "quiet lights" in the houses that "hum[ming] out into the darkness," and "stir and bustle among the stars"--all are in Gatsby's mind and contribute to the idealism and dream quality of Gatsby's recollection: "his idea of himself" from the past that he wishes to recapture.
So,"the quiet lights" are, indeed, subdued in the houses as it is the moonlight which acts as the spotlight for Gatsby's feelings as he and Daisy "turned toward each other" in a most romantic moment of love, and Gatsby espies the blocks of the sidewalk that "really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees." At that moment five years ago, Gatsby thought his American Dream was within reach:
...and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder.
But when this intangible dream meets the real Daisy and Gatsby kisses her, all is "uncommunicable forever" and, like the lights, the memory is subdued and mitigated in its power to renew love.