What is detailed interpretation of this passage from The Great Gatsby ?(I need help with explaining "frightening leaves" "grotesque rose" "sunlight" "grass" " a new world""poor ghosts", why...

What is detailed interpretation of this passage from The Great Gatsby ?

(I need help with explaining "frightening leaves" "grotesque rose" "sunlight" "grass" " a new world""poor ghosts", why wilson is "ashen figure"?)

He must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about...like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter Seven of The Great Gatsby, like the chivalrous knight, Gatsby tells Nick that he will take the blame for the fatal accident with his automobile, standing watch outside Daisy's window so that harm will not come to her because of the death of Tom's mistress. But, he stands alone outside in the moonlight "watching over nothing."

Now, in Chapter Eight, Nick himself narrates that he cannot sleep because he is half sick "between grotesque reality and savage frightening dreams." After talking with Gatsby who relates his romantic history with the young Daisy, Nick remarks that Gatsby has "committed himself to the following of a grail." Unfortunately, Daisy has

...vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby--nothing.

Clearly, the metaphor of the knight in pursuit of the white rose of a maiden, who represents innocence, grace, and beauty has been perverted.  This is why Gatsby looks at an unfamiliar world ("sky") and realizes "what a grotesque thing a rose is."  Daisy as a pure rose is incongruous. And, it is interesting that in medieval times--a period suggestive of Gatsby's chivalry and pursuit of the "grail"--the rose had conflicting meanings, on the one hand symbolizing love and loyalty and on the other, symbolizing profane love.  Thus, Daisy's only beauty is that which Gatsby has assigned her;  his dream of attaining her has descended to the mundane.  Likewise, his American dream has been sullied as he abandoned better ambitions and has striven for wealth and materialism in the hope of wooing Daisy.

And, since Gatsby is such a romantic, Fitzgerald employs pathetic fallacy in which Nature sympathizes with the atmosphere of feeling. Disillusioned and alone, having lost "the old warm world," Gatsby feels that nothing is real, the truth--the "sunlight"--feels raw upon his new lawn, his new life. All is ashes like Wilson, "that ashen fantastic figure gliding toward him" through trees with no shape like the shapeless forms in the wasteland of the Valley of Ashes.  Gatsby's world has died even before Wilson takes his life.


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The Great Gatsby

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