What is the interpretation of this passage from The Great Gatsby?( How do you explain "rose petals", "sadness", and "fresh faces"?)"At the grey tea hour there were always rooms that throbbed...

What is the interpretation of this passage from The Great Gatsby?( How do you explain "rose petals", "sadness", and "fresh faces"?)

"At the grey tea hour there were always rooms that throbbed incessantly with this low sweet fever, while fresh faces drifted here and there like rose petals blown by the sad horns around the floor."

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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F. Scott Fitzgerald has been described as a "Lyrical Realist" and this passage from Chapter Eight is a wonderful example of why. At this point in the chapter, Gatsby relates the history of his and Daisy's romantic "month of love."  While he was at war, Daisy felt the "pressure of the world outside" and begged him to return in order to reassure herself that she did love him.  When Gatsby could not get leave, Daisy's "artificial world...redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery" beckoned her back to it.  Through the nights, the saxophones

wailed the hopeless comment of the "Beale Street Blues" while a hundred pairs of golden and silver slippers shuffled the shining dust.

This description of the Jazz Age with its melancholy songs and frivolous wealthy flappers suggests superficial lives spent in the pursuit of gold and silver. At the "grey tea hour," a grey time no longer significant, the music of the era, an auditory image, and the money-colored slippers, a visual image, all suggest the dissolute era and the corruption of the American Dream. That is, the "Beale Street Blues" played by the "sad horns" of the saxophone, along with the "white fresh faces" of the flappers that drift insignificantly like falling rose petals are symbolic of the falsity and illusion of a materialistic and amoral American Dream.  Indeed, in this chapter of The Great Gatsby, there is an objectification of the themes of "Culture Clash," "Moral Corruption," and "the American Dream."  

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