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The Great Gatsby: A Color Analysis (Blue)

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Maureen Courtney

on 7 April 2015

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby: A Color Analysis (Blue)

Alternative to Reality
Despite his seemingly nonchalant use of the word "blue," Fitzgerald cleverly utilizes it to offer deeper insight regarding environments, characters, and ruminations. Blue can represent:
Hope for the future
Aspirations (usually regarding wealth and an elevation in status)
Illusions or alternatives to reality
Blue: The Hidden Meaning
Hope for the Future
"Slowly the white wings of the boat moved against the
cool blue
limit of the sky" (119).
The white wings represent wealth, and blue represents Gatsby's future ambitions. The white boat (old money, upper class) is overwhelmed by the blue sky in the background (Gatsby’s aspirations/attempts to enter the old money, social class). Even with the immense enormity of the blue sky (Gatsby’s extravagance), it cannot compete with the simple, elegant, white boat.

"While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher - shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange with monograms of
Indian blue
" (92).
Blue, traditionally a color of gloom and unhappiness, is often used to describe a mood that connotes sorrow and melancholy. Gatsby’s life, carefully fabricated to carry an illusion of fabulous wealth and careless ease, is not as it appears. The extravagant shirts that Gatsby uses to prove his wealth and the beauty of his lifestyle are described as having hints of blue reflecting the hints of sorrow and imperfection in his life.

Hope for the Future
"He was a blond, spiritless man, anemic and faintly handsome. When he saw us a damp gleam of hope sprung into his
light blue
eyes" (25).
Mr. Wilson’s eyes are described as blue because he becomes filled with hope at the prospect of Tom’s business. However, because Tom will never sell the car means that his dream is merely an illusion. The light shade of blue represents an air of innocence in Mr. Wilson’s hope.
Color Analysis: Blue

But doesn't blue usually indicate sadness?
It does indeed! In "The Great Gatsby," blue can also represent melancholy or sadness, because these emotions are natural extenuations of a life spent chasing after a false hope. It is difficult to be content if you are living a lie.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott.
The Great Gatsby
. New York, NY: Scribner,
1996. Print.

Lana Del Ray. "
Young And Beautiful
." Gatsby Soundtrack. Jack
White's Third Man Records, 6 August 2013. MP3 file.
"The eyes...are
and gigantic" (23).
The all-seeing eyes of T.J. Eckleberg look over the poverty-stricken, spiritless land and seem to bear witness to the all-encompassing sadness that permeates the area. Their blue color can also be interpreted to represent hope for the future, as the present is perpetuated with melancholy. Amidst the valley of ashes, the blue eyes embody the current sadness, but also look over the landscape from above in a manner similar to that of a supervisor, hoping for improvement. Eckleberg's eyes may also be likened to the "eyes of God," which Fitzgerald may suggest as a portrayal of his sadness regarding the social corruption and materialism that overshadow the morals and sanctity of religion.

"All night the saxophones wailed the hopeless comment of the
Beale Street
" (151).
Fitzgerald’s use of Blues music complements the overarching sadness that the usage of the color blue represents. Here, the sadness and unattainable dreams that the color blue represents connects to Daisy’s hope for reuniting with Gatsby after the war, and finally experience her idea of love. This dream was ultimately an illusion as Daisy finally came to the realization that she could wait no longer for Gatsby’s return, prompting her into a tumultuous cycle of relationships which ended in a internally broken marriage with Tom Buchanan.
"Her face, above a spotted dress of
dark blue
crepe-de-chine, contained no facet or gleam of beauty, but there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves in her body were continually smoldering" (25).
Myrtle’s false dream, as represented by the blue dress, is that of wealth and love (which she hopes to attain through her “relationship” with Tom). The dark shade represents the lustful affair and immoral ways by which Myrtle hopes to attain this goal.

"It was
gas blue
with lavender beads. Two hundred and sixty-five dollars" (43).
The recipient of this dress from Gatsby seems more impressed with the cost of the blue dress rather than the dress or gesture itself. Gatsby was so desperate to continue the facade of wealth and influence that surrounded himself and his parties, that he was willing to spend exorbitant amounts of money on near strangers.
"I liked that man - what was his name? - with the sort of
nose" (105).
Daisy is amused by the man who notably, has a blueish nose. Because blue represents Gatsby and his ambitious dreams, this quote provides insight into Daisy’s character as Daisy is using Gatsby as a form of entertainment. Her affair with him is exciting to her because it, in her mind, acts as a form of revenge against Tom and his multiple affairs.
Alternative to Reality
"In his
blue gardens
men and women came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars" (39).
Gatsby’s blue gardens serve as a representation of Gatsby himself, and the estate that he surrounds himself. While his estate presents an image of wealth and power, Gatsby’s “new money” status proves that this image is an illusion. The parties themselves are representative of the illusion presented by Gatsby. Indeed, the aftermath of the parties result in “a sudden emptiness” which reveals the false sense of popularity that Gatsby may have experienced the night before.

Alternative to Reality
"A chauffeur in a uniform of
robin's-egg blue
crossed my lawn early that morning with a surprisingly formal note from his employer: the honor would be entirely Gatsby's, it said, if I would attend his "little party" that night" (41).
Gatsby’s worker uniforms also serve as an illusion to conceal Gatsby’s true status. By alluding to a party, the use of blue in this quote also illustrates the false glamour and happiness of the people who attend. His party’s are out of touch with reality. The workers themselves, which initially appear to be a symbol of Gatsby’s wealth and power, turn out to be connected to Wolfsheim. This reveals Gatsby’s deeply rooted insecurity as well as the illegal means with which he likely obtained his “new money.”
Alternative to Reality
"The late afternoon sky...bloomed...like the
blue honey
of the Mediterranean" (34).
The weather seems to reflect the fantasy life led by Tom and Myrtle. Their world is untouched by Myrtle’s poverty and Tom’s lack of dominance. The blue exhibits their disconnect from reality.

Alternatives to Reality
"A damp streak of hair lay like a dash of
blue paint
across her cheek and her hand was wet with glistening drops as I took it to help her from the car" (85).

Gatsby's life, in all it's lies and illusions of wealth, was manipulated specifically so that Daisy his unattainable dream, would be impressed.His first interaction with Daisy, on the afternoon that she was lured to Nick's house for tea, Daisy is described as having a dash of blue paint on her cheek. Though Gatsby is now as close as he has ever been to obtaining his decades long goal of rekindling his relationship with Daisy, she is still, and will always be, out of his reach. The presence of a blue streak on her cheek marks Daisy as an unattainable dream that he can work for but can never realize.

Alternative to Reality
"So when the
blue smoke
of brittle leaves was in the air and the wind blew the wet laundry stiff on the line I decided to come back home" (176).
Following the death of Gatsby, Nick contemplates his decision to move to the East Egg. It was not until the “blue smoke” was in the air that Nick made the decision to leave and return to what he still considers his home. The death of Gatsby and the subsequent reveal of the truth behind his life brought to mind the real potential results of living a life that is not genuine. Unwilling to live a lie that met an untimely and unfair demise the way that Gatsby’s did, Nick decides to escape the blue smoke of illusion and false hope. In the case, the color blue is again used to describe false hope. It is present after Gatsby’s death in a way to warn against the dangers of chasing a dream that may never in fact be realized.
Alternative to Reality
"He had come a long way to this
blue lawn
and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it" (180).
As Nick reflects on the fruits of Gatsby’s false life, he realizes that it was all focused on winning back a girl who was no longer his for the winning. Gatsby worked long and hard to reach a goal that was merely an illusion. Blue in this situation represents again the false hope Gatsby had in the continuation of his long forgotten relationship with a girl who had married and moved on.

By describing certain characters, settings, and objects as various shades of blue, Fitzgerald is highlighting the false hopes and illusions of grandeur that marked the 1920s in which he lived and explored through literature with "The Great Gatsby."
"About five o'clock it was
enough outside to snap off the light" (159).
Nick’s hope that Wilson may have a friend to come help him was described as forlorn- the definition of a false hope. Because he was entirely uncomfortable with the situation, Nick was desperately looking for a way out. He says that at about 5 o’clock, it was blue enough outside to turn off the light and leave. In this sense, blue is functioning as sort of an escape from the reality that Nick found himself stuck in.

Maureen Courtney, Eliza Haverstock, Christina Kim
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