Why did Fitzgerald begin The Great Gatsby with a quote from Thomas Parke D’Invilliers, a character from Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise?

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;

If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,

Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,

I must have you!”

Fitzgerald began The Great Gatsby with a quote from D’Invilliers because it is appropriate for Jay Gatsby. The gold hat represents the sometimes gauche signs of wealth Gatsby displays. To get Daisy’s attention, Gatsby exhibits escalating status symbols. He bounces higher, from the expensive car and house to the hydroplane and lavish parties. As the poet advises, Daisy must have him, but her emotion is short-lived.

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The quote that begins The Great Gatsby is more than just a shameless plug for Fitzgerald's other works. Fitzgerald purposefully chose this quote to set the scene for the story about to unfold and, specifically, to characterize Jay Gatsby. The gold hat represents the wealth and status Jay Gatsby desires, but more importantly, the phrase following, "if that will move her," signifies Gatsby's motivations for attaining such wealth. The main catalyst for Gatsby's venture to make a name for himself in old money society is his love and desire for Daisy Buchanan. The number one reason Gatsby wishes to don the gold hat of wealth is to gain the attention and affection of Daisy, so if wealth is what moves her to notice Gatsby, then he shall go to whatever lengths it takes to throw the grandest parties and display his monetary status.

The rest of the quote further places the woman in question in the position of power. Everything Gatsby does is in hopes of making Daisy fall for him—waiting for the day she cries that she must have him. The real kicker of this opening quote is that the woman's affection and love is bound to be short-lived, for how long can the lover bounce that high and adorn himself with that much gold before his beloved gets bored or underwhelmed? This is precisely the crux of the problem of the relationship dynamic between Gatsby and Daisy.

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Fitzgerald began The Great Gatsby with a quote from Thomas Parke D’Invilliers, a character from This Side of Paradise, because the quote is also extremely appropriate for Jay Gatsby. This is not surprising, as Fitzgerald’s works often seem to include autobiographical elements or background. Thomas Parke D’Invilliers, a minor character in This Side of Paradise, writes,

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her.

For Gatsby, the gold hat refers to the signs of wealth that he displays lavishly and sometimes gauchely. Gold is a symbol of wealth and status. Displayed tastefully, it is beautiful, but the image of a gold hat is overdone. The Gatsby reader can draw a parallel between the gold-hatted reference and Jay Gatsby’s need to overdo the demonstrations of his wealth.

The poem continues, “bounce high, bounce for her.” Again, the Gatsby reader can see how apt this is for Jay Gatsby, who purchases an immense home close to Daisy’s so that he can watch her dock, fill his home with lavish parties and attract her attention. Just as the poet advises, Gatsby bounces higher and higher in his efforts to get Daisy’s attention.

The poet advises that these actions will not only get the beloved’s attention but will result in her declaration of love. This is also true for Gatsby. Daisy falls or seems to fall for his completely fabricated image and is impressed with his beautiful handmade silk shirts and expensive car. What Gatsby fails to realize is that Daisy’s feelings are fleeting. She has been wounded in her marriage to Tom and is, in some ways, striking out at her husband when she responds so passionately to Gatsby’s overtures and displays of the wealth he has amassed. Gatsby's success using the poet's plan is short-lived.

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There is another reason why Fitzgerald included this quote from one of his fictional characters at the beginning of the novel. Arguably, he wanted to make it clear to the reader exactly what this story is about—that is, Gatsby's quest to win back Daisy Buchanan. Of all the events and relationships in the novel, nothing has more significance than Gatsby's experience of the American Dream, shown chiefly through his quest to win back Daisy, a quest which consumes Gatsby's every moment and every ounce of energy.

This idea is also supported by the repetition of the word "gold" in this quote. This word has connotations of high-value items, of wealth and luxury. The use of this word, therefore, reinforces the idea that this story is all about Gatsby's quest to achieve his version of the American Dream.

It does not matter that D'Invilliers is a fictional character from another of Fitzgerald's novels. What matters is that Fitzgerald is using this quote to foreshadow to the reader that this is a story about the American Dream and one man's quest to achieve it.

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D'Invilliers was both a pen name for Fitzgerald and a character based on Fitzgerald's friend, the poet John Peale Bishop. The quote reflects Gatsby's conviction that if he can earn enough money and remake himself, he can win the love of Daisy Buchanan. The "gold hat" in the poem symbolizes Gatsby's fortune and the grand home and enormous parties he throws to attract her attention. As Nick points out using different language, Gatsby was one to "bounce high," dream big, and aspire to realize a vision. In the epigraph, the narrator is likewise trying to woo his lover with money (the "gold hat") and by "high-bouncing:" trying hard to get her attention. He believes that by doing so the woman will inevitably end up saying, "I must have you." It reflects a very materialistic view of love. Fitzgerald chooses it because this is how Gatsby pursues Daisy, although with less success than the gold-hatted man in this quote.

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