What images of death pervade in chapter one of "The Great Gatsby"?  in chapter 1 ( the great gatsby)

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One common image is the color gray. Fitzgerald utilizes color imagery throughout the novel, reflecting personalities and characteristics through the hues of accessories. while most of those colors are bright or pastel, there are some dreary colors that symbolize death and ending.

Almost immediately, gray images are associated with decadence, decay, desolation, and waste. Those with whom this color is associated have wasted lives, wasted morals, and wasted dreams. Jordan Baker has “gray sun-strained eyes” looking out of a “wan” or pale, “discontented face”; she has “autumn-leaf yellow” hair (autumn being the archetypal symbol of death or dying). Although Nick is attracted to her, ultimately her lack of character closes out his interest. Being so often described with “gray” and autumn images connects her with death and waste.

Nick's initial mention of Gatsby foreshadows his end, and when combined with other images of wealth in the chapter, one sees a wasteland of failed opportunities. Jordan has failed professionally, Daisy has failed in her marriage to "hulking, brooding" Tom, Tom has failed in his own decency and morality. And Gatsby? Gatsby's failed to pursue something worthwhile, and has instead chased a rotting dream.  All of these hints add to the sense of death and final revelation in the chapter.

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The Great Gatsby

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