What do Gatby's pool and book of resolves symbolize at the end of The Great Gatsby?

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e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Near the end of the novel Gatsby tells one of his servants not to drain the pool as planned. The summer is over - as is the story of the novel and Gatsby's hopes as well - and Gatsby has yet to use the pool. Before it is drained, he wants to use it once. 

In this context the pool can be seen to represent an idea that Gatsby has not been enjoying his wealth. He has been living in and for his vision of marrying Daisy. As that fantasy is coming to a close, he realizes that in the real world time is moving on. 

His decision to use the pool suggests that his fantasy is ended.

Later on the same day he is killed. 

Gatsby's book of resolves is a demonstration of his character. A person of impressive innocence, we can see the source of Gatsby's tenacious dreaming in the determinations he made for himself as a young man. The resolves are modest, insistent, and practical. 

Like the example of the pool, we see Gatsby's connection to reality in the book of resolves. Yet we also see his ardent nature. This can be seen as what allows him to dedicate himself so fully to a dream. We see in the resolves also a deep urge toward self-improvement and a belief that these improvements can be made.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the novel, Gatsby's marble swimming pool symbolizes his wealth, success, and dreams. However, Gatsby himself does not enjoy the swimming pool and simply shows it off to Nick during a party. At the end of the novel, Gatsby instructs his servant not to drain the pool because he hasn't used it all summer. Ironically, the first time Gatsby uses the pool is his last. Gatsby's reasoning for not draining the pool symbolizes his effort to hold onto his dreams. Throughout the summer, Gatsby rekindled his relationship with Daisy, only to see it fade away. His wish to swim in the pool before summer ends symbolizes his desire to hold onto his dreams and enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Gatsby's "General Resolves," which are written in the book Hopalong Cassidy, symbolize his desire and ambition. Gatsby resolved to become the best version of himself at a young age. His resolve manifests in his determination to become wealthy and successful. Although Gatsby did attain many of his goals, he tragically failed to win Daisy's heart. 

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The Great Gatsby

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