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Coming-of-Age in The Great Gatsby

Symbols and Ideas that Support the Coming-of-Age Theme

Abigail Vandiver

on 9 May 2011

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Transcript of Coming-of-Age in The Great Gatsby

Coming-of-Age in The Great Gatsby Nick Carraway "...and now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the 'well-rounded man.' This isn't just an epigram-life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all." (4). Before... It's rather obvious in the beginning of the novel that Nick
is completely ignorant to Eastern customs and life. He assumes that once he moves to the East that he will be able to start over and create a name for himself in the bonds business. However, he is highly unaware of Eastern reality, and eventually it shall all catch up to him... Nick Carraway after... . "In consequence, I'm inclined to reserve
all judgements, a habit that has opened
up many curious natures to me and also
made me the victim of not a few veteran
bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect
and attach itself to this quality when it
appears in a normal person..."(1).
"When I came back from the East last autumn I
felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and
at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no
more riotous excursions which priveleged glimpes
into the human heart" (2). At the end of the novel, Nick's sense of intellegence
matures. He becomes aware of others and their actions.
Nick clearly understands the defintion of morality through his heartbreaking and sometimes corrupt experiences in the East.

Nick Carraway before... "...and now I was going
to bring back all such things
into my life and become again
the most limited of all specialists,
the 'well rounded man.' This isn't
just an epigram-life is much more
successfully looked at from a
single window, after all" (4).
At the beginning of the novel, Nick's
ignorance towards life in the East proves
to be one of his major set backs. His blind
awareness to the harmful effects of
immorality causes him to experience
everything but the high life... Coming-Of-Age
in The Great Gatsby Symbols West Egg Oranges & Lemons Midwest Flowers,
Crushed Flowers White "I lived at West Egg, the-well
less fashionable of the two,
though this is a most superficial
tag to express the bizarre and
not a little sinister contrast between
them" (5). Nick is an involved outsider, privileged or burdened
with the role of witness and recorder of events" (Hermanson). The irony of being an involved outsider and being either priveledged or burdened by the role of witness and recorder perfectly describes Nick's position in the novel. He is the barrier between the East Egg and West Egg in both personality and location. Nick's house resides directly in between Gatsby and the Buchanan's, and this in return mirrors the whole involved outsider scheme. Since Nick came from a rather prominent family in the Midwest, he understands the East Egg lifestyle to an extent, but in contrast Nick also empathizes with Gatsby. Nick moved East in hopes of creating a name and living for himself, so he also connects with the West Egg lifestyle. Considering that Nick's house actually resides in West Egg and his personality is rather meek and humble, it's safe to say that he is more apt to embrace the new money way of life opposed to the carless habits of old money. Observant Barrier Wasted Talent "Every Friday five crates of
oranges and lemons arrived
from a fruiterer in New York-
every Monday these same
oranges and lemons left his back
door in a pyramid of pulpless
halves"(39). Nick description of the oranges and lemons as pulpless halves allows the reader to interpret his underlying connotation. Fitzgerald wanted readers
to grasp the concept that Nick was undergoing change and beginning to realize the whole scheme of the East. When Nick talks about the oranges and lemons and how they are shipped to Gatsby's on Friday and carried away on Monday, he is really pin-pointing the constant partiers that inhabit Gatsby's mansion every weekend. Nick mentally takes note of the absurd behavior exhibited by these people, and eventually catches drift that they are all wasted talent. Instead of doing something with thier lives, they choose to partake in illegal activities and essentially drink until they turn into pulpless halves. Innocence " My family have been prominent,
well-to-do people in this Middle
Western City for three generations.
The Carraways are something of a
clan, and we have a tradition that
we're descended from the Dukes of
Buccleuch, but the actual founder
of my line was my grandfather's
brother, who came here in fifty-one,
sent a substitute to the Civil War, and
started the wholesale hardware
business that my father carries on
to-day" (3). At first, Nick's uneasiness towards Gatsby created a barrier between the two. Eventually, after Gatsby's death, Nick saw something rather charming and heroic about Gatsby's vision in life. He then realized that Gatsby's dream was essentially a mirror to the world's loss of innocence (Pavlovski). This realization hit Nick hard and fast. Everything made sense at that moment and all the pieces fell into place. Nick understood that the East was a place of moral corruption and a doom filled hell when it came to pursuing dreams,essentially unlocking the door to some very important life lessons. Nick's wise and uncontrollable cravings and desires for innocence and comfort called him back home, and so he packed up and headed back to the Midwest and never again returned East. Insight or the lack of... "He broke off and began to walk up
a desolate path of fruit rinds and
discarded favors and crushed flowers.
'I wouldn't ask too much of her,' I
ventured. 'You can't repeat the past'"(110). Nick, before anyone else, realized that the
affair between Gatsby and Daisy would
never work, and what they had before no
longer existed. Since flowers symbolized
Gatsby's love for Daisy, the line describing
them as crushed is a sure indication of a
failed attempt at love. Nick's insight on
the demise of the love affair is obvious with
his statement right after Gatsby walked on
crushed flowers. It is as if Nick was warning
Gatsby all along. As you see, Nick is quickly
becoming more aware of his surroundings
and pretty much analyzes personalities
dead on. "They were both in white, and
their dresses were rippling and
fluttering as if they had just been
blown back in the after short
flight around the house"(8).
"An hour later the front door
opened nervously, and Gatsby, in a white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-colored tie, hurried in"(84). All throught the novel, Nick discusses
the white wardrobe worn by Gatsby,
Daisy, Jordan, and Tom. Nick also
discusses the lavish lifestlye exhibited
by each of the characters. Perhaps Nick
very rarely wore white because he saw
the shallow, insignificance the color
portrayed. In fact, the only time Nick
wears white is when he recieves Gatsby's
invitation to a party. At the time, Nick
was still ignorant to the Eastern culture,
but quickly became aware of the carelessness
of the Easterners at Gatsby's party. From
that point on, Nick does not mention wearing
white ever again assuming that he wised up
to the wiselessness of the matter. Works Cited

Hermanson, Casie E. "An overview of The Great Gatsby." Literature Resource Center. Detroit: Gale, 2011. Literature Resource Center. Web. 8 May. 2011.

"The Great Gatsby." Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Linda Pavlovski. Vol. 157. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center. Web. 9 May. 2011.

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