The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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What are 4–5 images, graphics, or symbols that represent Jay Gatsby? How do they represent either what the character experiences or other characters's influence on him? Explain the reasoning behind the chosen symbols and/or graphics in GREAT depth and detail. Include important quotes as evidence for the chosen graphics and/or symbols.

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In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, an image or a graphic that represents Jay Gatsby is his house. Nick says it:

... was a colossal affair by any standard—it was a factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby’s mansion.

Gatsby’s house is ostentatious because he wants to impress Daisy. He views the house as a sign of his immense recently-acquired wealth and does not realize that “old moneyed” people like Daisy and Tom Buchanan will think it pretentious.

The lavish parties Gatsby gives are also symbols. He uses them to show off his wealth and in the hope that Daisy will come to one. The parties show the impact that Daisy has on Gatsby. Jordan says to Nick:

“I think he half expected her to wander into one of his parties, some night,” went on Jordan,“but she never did.”

Another symbol, although not a visual one, is Gatsby’s frequent use of the term “old sport.” This is Gatsby’s affectation to further the image he has recreated of himself as someone born to wealth and privilege. In fact, his entire manner of speech is intended to further the false image. Thus, it reflects how the privileged people Gatsby has met have impacted his life and created his immense desire to be one of them. Gatsby tells Nick:

"Well, I’m going to tell you something about my life ...

I am the son of some wealthy people in the middle-west—all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition ...

My family all died and I came into a good deal of money."

Gatsby does not realize that this entire speech amuses Nick because it is so preposterous and pretentious. Nick writes, "With an effort I managed to restrain my incredulous laughter. The very phrases were worn so threadbare."

Furthering the image that he has cultivated is also the reason that he wants to show off his hydroplane, which is another symbol of his wealth and reflection of his aspiration to be seen as privileged. It reflects the impact that people like Daisy and Tom have had on him. Nick says, “Evidently he lived in this vicinity for he told me that he had just bought a hydroplane.”

Gatsby’s car and chauffeur are other status symbols. Nick says,

A chauffeur in a uniform of robin’s egg blue crossed my lawn early that Saturday morning with a surprisingly formal note from his employer—the honor would be entirely Gatsby’s, it said, if I would attend his “little party” that night.

The car figures importantly in the narrative when it becomes “the death car,” which is both ironic and tragic, as it leads to Gatsby's murder. Thus, his surrounding himself with symbols of wealth was also a catalyst in his own death.

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