Look at paragraph beginning: "But he didn't despise himself...imagined." How does this allusion add meaning to the reader's understanding of Gatsby's dream in The Great Gatsby?

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter Eight, Nick visits Gatsby's home to inquire about his friend's well-being following the stressful, climactic day. During a conversation between the two characters, Gatsby exposes more of his background as he tells Nick about the first time he met Daisy. Gatsby explains to Nick that he lied about his family's social status in order to court Daisy, and also elaborates on how he became enchanted with the idea of marrying her. In the following paragraph, Fitzgerald illustrates Gatsby's dedication to following a futile dream. Fitzgerald writes the following:

But he didn’t despise himself and it didn’t turn out as he had imagined. He had intended to take what he could and go, but now he found that he had committed himself to the following of a grail. He knew that Daisy was extraordinary but he didn’t realize just how extraordinary a “nice” girl could be. She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby nothing. He felt married to her, that was all (82).

Fitzgerald likens Gatsby's quest for Daisy to a pilgrim's search for the Holy Grail. In contrast, Daisy resumes her life of wealth and prosperity after Gatsby leaves for the war. Gatsby is essentially left with only his strong feelings and imaginary dreams of one day marrying Daisy. Gatsby's idea of the American Dream does not revolve so much around personal wealth than it does the hope of one day marrying Daisy.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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But he didn’t despise himself and it didn’t turn out as he had imagined. He had intended to take what he could and go, but now he found that he had committed himself to the following of a grail. He knew that Daisy was extraordinary but he didn’t realize just how extraordinary a “nice” girl could be. She vanished...leaving Gatsby—nothing. He felt married to her, that was all.

In Chapter 8 of The Great Gatsby, Gatsby reveals more of himself to Nick, while at the same time he begins to realize the emptiness of his dreams. The passion that he once possessed when he "took" Daisy has transmuted into the same concept as his dream of wealth: simply the gaining of his dream, that which he has desired. Daisy becomes a part of Gatsby's American dream, the charm of money--that voice that "sounds like money" has, however, become "a deathless song." For, Daisy has become symbolic of all that Gatsby desires as his is the drive in the "service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty." Indeed, Daisy is the objective correlative of this "meretricious beauty" of wealth as the American Dream. Gatsby's dream is illusory and vulgar; later, he learns "how grotesque a rose can be," having apprehended the lure of materialism as a vulgar pursuit that is unsatisfying and deceptive.

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kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 2) Educator

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In this paragraph from Chapter Eight, Nick is informing the reader of the early history between Gatsby and Daisy in which they first met in Louisville and almost married. By doing this, Nick makes an important allusion to the Holy Grail, the cup which was purportedly used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper:

But now he found that he had committed himself to the following of a grail.

In terms of Gatsby's dreams, this allusion suggests that Gatsby dedicated his life to pursuing Daisy in the same way that people have sought to find this elusive cup. It also implies that, like those who seek the grail, Gatsby loves Daisy so much that he can never truly let her go. Moreover, Gatsby knows that if he keeps trying, he is sure to win Daisy back someday—he is just not sure how long it will take.

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