Besides being a great novel, The Great Gatsby is a very symbolic book, not tomention it’s many themes and meanings. This paper will discuss three of the majorthemes as well as some of the symbols, and try to explain the ending of the book. One of the first themes that comes to mind when one reads this book is thetheme of position. This includes class, wealth and social standing. It is apparent thatposition is a large factor in this novel and time period within the first few chapters ofthe book.
Nick is a middle class mid-westerner who moves to West Egg. Gatsby isrich, but he is only “new money” and also lives in East Egg.There is a position thathe strives for and he wil do almost anything to achieve this. The Buchanans andhowever live in West Egg and are “old money”.
Even though they may have lessmoney than Gatsby they have a better social standing. East and West Egg , as well asthe water that seperates it are symbols in this book which strenghten this theme. Thewater seperates East and West Egg and creates a barrier between them much like socialstanding and wealth creates a barrier for the charachters in this book.
Another theme of the novel is the theme of carelessness. Nick refers toJordan, Tom and Daisy as careless. They are careless people who do careless acts, theylive an irresponsible lifestyle and consequence is only an after thought. “They werecareless people, Tom and Daisy-they smashed up things and creatures and thenretreated back into their money or their vast carelessness.
..”One example of thiscarelessness is when Jordan is driving Nick through the city, and another is when Daisyand Gatsby don’t stop after they kill Myrtle. Jordan and Tom also display carelessnesswhen they flee the city after the murder.These people do not care about paying fortheir actions and basically do as they please. Tom and Daisy are a married couple yetTom doesn’t worry about cheating on Daisy and she has no real guilt about herrelationship with Gatsby.Consequence is almost unheard of to these people.
Nickpoints out the carelessness in the other charachters but Jordan tells the reader thatNick too can be just as careless and false as the rest of them . Nick acts intrested inJordan at first and on occasion but the next day he’ll completely ignore her, showingno consideration for her feelings.According to Jordan careless people are onlyharmfull when they meet other careless people like Nick meeting the Buchanans.
The eyes of T.J. Eckleburg sit up on the billboard in the valley of ashes andwatch over all these careless acts. The eyes look over the situations and judge thecharachters passivley. Significantly enough Myrtle’s death and Tom’s affair, some ofthe most careless acts occured under the Eyes of TJ Eckleburg.
These eyes look overthe charachters each time they travel through the valley of ashes and remind them ofThe Green Light at the end of Daisy’s dock represents Gatsby’s longing forDaisy, social status, wealth, acceptance, success, and all of his hopes and dreams.Gatsby achieves his wealth, and buys himself popularity, but that green light, whichrepresents all of his hopes and dreams is still on the other side of the water, in EastEgg. No matter how much Gatsby has he still doesn’t have what he really wants,which is Daisy. He has accomplished all of this for her, and won’t be satisfied until hegets this imposible dream. The Green light stands for all that Gatsby wanted and allthat he ever worked for, yet it is never quite in grasp. The last three paragraphs of the novel tie up all the loose ends of the themesand symbols, especially those involving the green light and the theme of hopes anddreams.
Fitzgerald finishes the novel with a final note on Gatsby’s belief system. Gatsby is a true American and believes that one can obtain anything with enoughhard work. He has an optomistic belief in achievement and the ability to obtain one’sdreams. Nick connects Gatsby’s dreams with the unattainable American Dream andtime. Gatsby is struggling to recreate the past in the future.
Nick speculates that justas Gatsby infused Diasy with the meaning he sought to achieve in his own life, earlyexplorers, soilders and patriots infused America with their own dreams and values. However, the time in which the dream of America could be seen as a pure symbol ofthose values is behind us. Nick looks at the green light and wonders what the the landwas like long ago when it was new and unspoiled.
The green light represents the puredream Gatsby had, but the purity of the American dream is something of the past.The blue lawn reminds us that the dream is unattainable, it is blue because it is areflection of the water and therefore a constant reminder of the barrier betweenGatsby and his dreams. Nick realizes that Gatsby has the sense of unlimited promise.He possesed the American Dream. Fitzgerald ends the novel by reminding the readerthat this dream is unattainable and the American dream is something of the past. “Sowe beat on boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past” Bibliography: