Category:Book ReportsPaper Title:Dust in the Great GatsbyText:Dust in The Great GatsbyIn the novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald incorporates manydifferent themes, but the most prevalent message is that of the impossibility ofthe American Dream. Fitzgerald writes of two types of people: those who appearto have the ideal life and those who are still trying to achieve their dreams.
Tom and Daisy are two characters who seem to have it all: a nice house, a lovingspouse, a beautiful child, and plenty of money (Fitzgerald 6; ch. 1). However,neither of them is happy, and both end up having affairs.
Their lovers, Gatsbyand Mrs. Wilson, are two examples of characters who are still trying to attainthe perfect life. By the end of the novel, the hopes of both Gatsby and Mrs.
Wilson have been dashed and they have passed away. While discussing the lostdreams of these two people, the image of dust is used several times. In TheGreat Gatsby, Fitzgerald used dust to symbolize the destruction of the dreams ofthe common man.For instance, Mrs.
Wilson was an ordinary woman who had high hopes forcreating a new and better life. She couldn’t wait to escape her life as the wifeof a poor car repairman (35; ch. 2). Her husband had settled for this life, butMyrtle still hoped for better things. “A white ashen dust veiled his Mr.
Wilson dark suit and his pale hair as it veiled everything in the vicinity -except his wife, who moved close to Tom” (26; ch. 2). Fitzgerald uses dustto emphasize that Mr.
Wilson had no dreams, and that Mrs. Wilson still hadaspirations of living the perfect life. Myrtle’s dreams are destroyed along withher life when she was hit by Tom’s car, and Fitzgerald uses dust in her deathscene to symbolize what she had lost.
“The other car, the one going towardNew York, came to a rest a hundred yards beyond, and its driver hurried back towhere Myrtle Wilson, her life violently extinguished, knelt in the road andmingled her dark thick blood with the dust” (138; ch. 7). Dust is againused, this time to insinuate the lost dreams of a common woman.
Fitzgerald also uses this symbol when he writes of Gatsby’s vanquished hopes.Gatsby was a man who had fulfilled most of his dreams. He had a large house,lots of money, and he mingled with the rich and famous, but he still had onething that he needed to make him happy (50; ch. 3). Gatsby had achieved all thathe had for one purpose: to win the woman that he loved, Daisy (79; ch.
4).Gatsby finally had realized his dreams for a short while, when Daisy told himthat she loved him (116; ch. 7). However, this perfection didn’t last very long.Daisy soon went back to Tom, and Gatsby’s visions of his ideal life weredestroyed.
When Nick visits Gatsby’s house after Daisy had gone back to Tom, henoticed that “there was an inexplicable amount of dust everywhere”(147, ch. 8). This dust was what remained of Gatsby’s obliterated fantasies.Fitzgerald foreshadows the end of Gatsby’s hopes in the very beginning of thenovel also by talking about dust.
“It is what preyed on Gatsby, what fouldust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interestin the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men” (2; ch. 1).This reference to the conclusion of the book shows Fitzgerald’s view thathappiness is only available for a short period of time. Dust again portrays theimage of the tiny fragments of hope left in the trail of dashed dreams.
In conclusion, F. Scott Fitzgerald writes of many themes and uses manysymbols in The Great Gatsby, but none is more obvious than the theme of theimpossibility of the perfect life. By the end of the novel, none of thecharacters has achieved happiness through their dreams or actions, andFitzgerald often refers to dust in order to symbolize lost hopes and aspirationsof the common-born characters that try to move up in society. Myrtle Wilson wasan ordinary, poor woman who dreams of a better life, and dust is used in herdeath scene to signify the destruction of her attempts to rise in social class.Gatsby was another common person, but he had already attained many of hisdreams. However, he still needed one thing to complete his vision, and this wasDaisy.
Gatsby’s ambition was rewarded with a small glimpse of happiness whenDaisy told him that she loved him, but she soon went back to Tom. After this hadhappened, dust covered everything in Gatsby’s home, representing what remainedof his dreams. Therefore, Fitzgerald uses dust in the novel The Great Gatsby tosymbolize the lost hopes and dreams of the common man.Work CitedFitzgerald, F. Scott.
The Great Gatsby. New York: Collier Books, 1925.Book Reports