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The Great Gatsby - Passage Analysis
Transcript of The Great Gatsby - Passage Analysis
Why is this passage important?
The passage comes from the final page of the novel (page 193), and is Nick Carraway's way of summing up the story and showing the futility of Gatsby's dream. We see why Jay Gatsby was holding on to his hope of rekindling his former love with Daisy -- she was so close that he could literally see her house. Gatsby chased his dream like a horse chasing a carrot on a stick. He was always so close, yet he never really had a chance of getting there.
The Green Light
Gatsby's unwillingness to let bygones be bygones and simply move on from Daisy is something we can all relate to. We all believe in a green light, something that maybe, just maybe, we can someday achieve.If only we can work harder or get luckier, one day we can reach that dream. For some it is riches, for some it is fame, and for some it is something as simple as a house to live in. If all we have is hope, at least we have something.
"He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher—shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in
, and monograms of
. Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.
'They’re such beautiful shirts,' she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. 'It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such—such beautiful shirts before.'" (pg. 99)
Fitzgerald's use of so many colors emphasizes just how wealthy Gatsby truly is, as well as how wasteful he is with that wealth. Rather than donate his money to charity, Gatsby has bought a "many-colored disarray" (99) of fancy shirts, which he uses to show off to his house guests. If this is not a display of senseless use of wealth, then nothing is.This sums up the spirit of the time, as many were looking to get rich quick in order to live the lavish lives that the main characters in this story live. Fitzgerald's tone in this passage is almost mocking as he describes Daisy's unprovoked breakdown over the beauty of the shirts.
Why Does Daisy Cry?
The fact that Daisy sheds tears over a pile of shirts just because she thinks they are beautiful is, again, quite telling of the materialistic society that "The Great Gatsby" takes place in. This scene gives the reader a glimpse of Daisy's true personality. She is a shallow product of her age who shows more emotion over a stack of garments than she did upon seeing Gatsby for the first time in years, and Fitzgerald does an excellent job of communicating that point in this passage.
"And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the
at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this
, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the
, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." (pg. 193)