Fitzgerald loves his symbolic references. Littered throughout the novel are many key objects that help us understand something more about an idea, character or place.
Create a “symbols chart” as outlined below.
|Symbol||3 quotes from the book that describe the symbol||3 moments when the symbol appears||Major characters that the symbol is connected to||What the symbol is representing||Important things the symbol reveals about ideas and characters|
|Water||“So we beat on boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”- Nick
“What do you think of that? It’s stopped raining.”I’m glad Jay.” Her throat, full of aching, grieving beauty, told only of her unexpected joy.”
“I’m going to drain the pool today, Mr. Gatsby. Leaves will start falling pretty soon…” “Don’t do it today,” Gatsby answered. He turned to me
apologetically“You know, old sport, I’ve never used that pool all summer?”
|– This quote appears at the very end of the book, the last line once Gatsby has been killed, Tom and Daisy had run off and Nick was going back to the Midwest.
– We see this quote in chapter 5. This is when Daisy and Gatsby meet again after the 5 years at Nicks.
– This quote is from chapter 8 moments before Gatsby is shot.
|– Gatsby, Daisy and Nick.
– Gatsby and Daisy
|– In this quote, the boat is are representing Gatsby who is fighting an unwinnable battle (the current) by trying to turn back time.
– The rain in this quote is representing how the time has stopped and it is forgotten the 5 year that Daisy and Gatsby have missed out on, and for that brief period all they are thinking about is each other.
– The pool (Symbol) represents all the things he had done for daisy over the time they were apart to try and win her back, but this summer when he was with her all these things lost there importance. The leaves in which the gardener is talking about is proving that time is still going as the seasons are changing.
|Water in Great Gatsby symbolizes time. For Gatsby and Daisy water is what always keeps them apart, From the sound between East Egg and West Egg or when they finally meet after all those years and it’s raining or when Gatsby goes to point out the green light at the end of daisy dock but the mist is blocking the view. It represents the time they spent separated. For Gatsby he’s always trying to turn back time or make the time disappear, Neither of these are possible. Water is a representation of this.|
|Eyes||Their eyes met, and they stared together at each other, alone in space. With an effort she glanced down at the table.
Gatsby looked at Daisy while she was speaking, in a way that every young girl wants to be looked at some time.
“Standing behind him, Michaelis saw with a shock that he was looking at the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, which had just emerged, pale and enormous, from the dissolving night. “God sees everything,” repeated Wilson.
|– This is when Daisy suggests that they should all go into the city, she says to Gatsby that he always looks so cool, once they have shared this moment Tom realises that the two of them are in love.
– We read this in chapter four when Nick is talking about when Gatsby and Daisy first met and the start of their ‘relationship’.
– Wilson says this when Tom stops to get gas on his way to New York with Nick and Jordan, Wilson is telling Tom that he knows that his wife Myrtle has been having an affair. Wilson doesnt know who with but he is planning to go west with Myrtle to get away from whoever it was she was having the affair with.
|– Daisy and Gatsby
-Wilson, Tom and Myrtle
|– The eyes of TJ Eckleburg represent the staring down and judging American society as a ‘moral wasteland’. It represent those of the past looking down at America and how everyone is now behaving and doing things. Also the billboard in which TJ Eckleburgs eyes are on is over the valley of ashes where is is the reality of the american, people working extremely hard with little to no reward. The eyes of TJ Eckleburg see everything.
– Eyes are a big symbol in the great Gatsby because the novel is based on appearances. Many characters in Great Gatsby make a fake illusion of themselves to fool those around them but one thing that they cant change is their eyes. The eyes held their true emotions even when their body and what they were saying was completely different. They eyes where one of the big things what gave them away.
|Their eyes revealed their true characters. For Gatsby his eyes almost represented how he was so deluded by his dream he wasn’t in reality and wasn’t seeing the full picture or even what he was doing. Others for example Daisy revealed even though she acts innocent and harmless she is well aware of what she is doing to others and how she is manipulating them. Unlike Gatsby Daisy isn’t blinded by love, Daisy is Blinded by Materialistic things instead.|
|The Colour White||“Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans”
“The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house.”
“All right, old sport,” called Gatsby. We slowed down. Taking a white card from his wallet, he waved it before the man’s eyes.
|– This is when Nick is driving to Daisy and Tom’s for dinner. They live in the richest part of New York.
– This is when Nick is At Tom and Daisy’s for Dinner. When he walks into the room where unknown to him Daisy and Jordan were lounging on a coach.
– This is when Gatsby and Nick are driving out to his plane and Gatsby was speeding and was pulled over by a police man.
|– Nick, Tom and Daisy.
– Nick, Daisy and Jordan.
– Nick and Gatsby
|– The white palaces represents wealth. The East Egg estates are all considered ‘Old Money’. Whereas West egg is considered ‘New Money’. This is the difference between East Egg and West Egg, although it doesn’t seem to be much of a difference in the novel it’s like comparing chalk and cheese. Those from East Egg were always associated with white but never those from West Egg.
– In this quote white is symbolising innocence and femininity. Daisy is almost always wearing white. Although we know daisy is anything but innocent i think Daisy always is associated just to make her illusion more believable and since Nick is the narrator it isn’t really till the end of the book where he sees Daisy for who she truly is.
– White here is symbolising status and Class. The only wealthy people have the white card that allows them to bypass the law and essential drive whatever speed they like. Later on in the book speeding essentially gets Gatsby killed. But the white card is another item that separates the rich from the poor.
|What white represents in a situations change it could be either class, innocence and femininity or wealth. For Gatsby white is symbolising his class and wealth, and although Gatsby isn’t included in the East Egg clique there is no denying he is very well known and definitely wealthy! Also proving this we never see Nick associated with white as he is neither Extremely wealthy or has a high Social status. Daisy is always white to signify her ‘innocence and purity’. We know this definatly is not who Daisy is, More who she portrays.|
|Yellow and Gold||“The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music, and the opera of voices pitches a key higher.”
“It was a yellow car,” he said, “big yellow car.”
“He announced that he had a way of finding out whom the yellow car belonged to, and then he blurted out that a couple of months ago his wife had come from
the city with her face bruised and her nose swollen.”
|– This is when Nick goes to his first party of Gatsby’s. This is describing Gatsby’s party.
– One of the witness talking about when myrtle was killed and about the car which was Gatsby’s. This is after Myrtle was killed.
– Once again this was after Myrtle was killed. Wilson is still in shock and is going over the events of the night.
– Gatsby, Tom, Daisy, Nick, Wilson and Myrtle.
– Gatsby, Tom, Daisy, Nick, Wilson and Myrtle.
|In this instance yellow is used to symbolize Happiness. Gatsby’s parties were somewhere everyone went for a guaranteed fun time without having to worry about the problems of the world and really everyone was looked at the same. Gatsby’s parties were a very regular thing which was a very signature part of the 1920’s.
– The following quotes are about Gatsbys yellow Rolls Royce. Gatsby had an large car collection. A reason his car was a creamy yellow colour was like most things to impress Daisy as yellow symbolises fake wealth. Gold is the real symbol of wealth. He desperately wanted to show off some sort of wealth to Daisy. Unfortunately the stunning car was an attributing factor in Gatsby’s death.
|Gatsby is always more associated with yellow rather than gold. Gold implies wealth and status. Yellow is fake gold. It is close to god but it will never be gold. Gatsby is yellow and Daisy is gold. Gatsbys car is a symbol of desire but also failure to reach ‘that’ group. Gatsby is trying so hard to show of what he has got but to daisy it will never be as much as she has.|
|The Green Light||“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us…tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.”- Nick Carraway
“You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.” Daisy put her arm through his abruptly, but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said. Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock.
Involuntarily I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness.
|– This is the final passage in the book which Nicks narrates. After Gatsby has been killed, Tom and Daisy have run away and Nick has decided to go back west. It is highlighting the impossible task of reaching the American Dream.
– We see this quote when Daisy and Gatsby finally meet at Nick’s house. Nick organised For Daisy to come over and secretly on the side told Gatsby to come over as well so the two could reunite.
– This is our very first glance at Gatsby. We read this once nick comes home from Daisys and Toms
|– Most people in the 1920’s hoping to achieve the American Dream
– Gatsby and Daisy
– Nick and Gatsby
|– In this quote the green light is symbolising the unachievable. The Green light (American Dream) is never in reach in fact it only gets harder to achieve. But it also represents how people lose reality trying to live the ‘American Dream’ they are so focused on trying to achieve the dream that they are brainwashed by it and can’t comprehend how fake it is.
– When Gatsby finally meets Daisy after their 5 years of being apart it wasnt what Gatsby had been dreaming. The dream he been imagining had vanished. It symbolized when someone
achieved the dream it wasn’t what it was made out to be. This once again proves to us that the American dream isn’t what its is made out to be and once you achieve it you will be really disappointed.
– The Green light here symbolises how Gatsby still has hope for being reunited with Daisy. To Gatsby the green light is what he is striving to capture. Because all Gatsby wants is Daisy. At this point in the book Gatsby wasn’t aware that his dream would become a reality, but his dream wouldn’t be at all like he had fantasised.
|“He stretched his arms out towards the dark water in a curious way… Involuntarily, I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away…”
– Gatsby feels as though the dream (the light) is so close he can almost touch it but its just out of reach. It seems so close he surely won’t fail to touch it.
– Nick cant help but look where Gatsby is reaching to. Gatsby’s dream / hope is so powerful, it draws people attention without even meaning to.
There is only one focus to the dream. “Single” carries a lot of connotations. It can be lonely but also harmful its not healthy to focus on a single thing for too long. you can lose perspective on life/ everything else.
Tiny, in the distance. Nick sees the light as being a small speck in the distance. This reveals that Gatsby’s dream is, in reality, too far away to see clearly or reach. in reality it doesn’t exist.