In The Great Gatsby, Nick writes, "He came alive from the womb of his purposeless splendor." How does this new revelation make sense of some of the earlier details presented about Gatsby and his...

In The Great Gatsby, Nick writes, "He came alive from the womb of his purposeless splendor." How does this new revelation make sense of some of the earlier details presented about Gatsby and his lifestyle?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Nick says this quote about Gatsby after he hears the full story concerning Gatsby's background and his relationship with Daisy. It is an important metaphor for a number of reasons. Firstly, the metaphor of birth indicates how knowing the truth about Gatsby's background helps Nick to understand him. In Nick's mind, Gatsby's vast wealth and decadent lifestyle, his "purposeless splendour," is suddenly given a purpose and a meaning now that he knows why Gatsby has dedicated himself to becoming "great" and pursuing such wealth.

The metaphor of birth is also important in terms of signalling the recreation or the rebirth of Gatsby. His recreation of himself is so total that it is almost as if Gatsby as a character is born into being and his humble origins as James Gatz are completely erased. He sets himself up as a completely new person, with no link whatsoever to his past, in order to pursue his intangible and idealisticĀ goal of being with Daisy. The quote identified in this question therefore is important in both the way that it signifies how Gatsby remade himself but also how, with the knowledge of Gatsby's past, Nick is able to understand why it is that Gatsby lives the kind of life that he does.

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