At the end of Chapter One of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby, Nick has returned from East Egg and his visit to Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s estate. Gazing towards the mansion owned by Jay Gatsby, Nick notices that this somewhat mysterious figure is actually standing a mere fifty feet away. While Nick contemplates introducing himself to his new neighbor, he has second thoughts as he observes Gatsby in a moment of quiet contemplation. As Fitzgerald’s narrator, Nick, describes the scene:
“—he [Gatsby] stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.”
It is not the water itself to which Gatsby is enchanted; it is the “single green light.” That green light marks the end of the dock at the Buchanan estate across the bay, and represents for Gatsby the figure of Daisy Buchanan, the object of his desire. Gatsby, and Nick, live in West Egg, the section of Long Island occupied by the nouveau riche as opposed to East Egg, the home of the established “old money” aristocracy. The gulf dividing Gatsby from Daisy Buchanan is represented by the bay that separates their respective estates.