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The Great Gatsby and The Colour Yellow

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by

Hannah Silver

on 23 October 2013

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby and The Colour Yellow

AND THE COLOUR YELLOW
Old Money Vs. New Money
Doctor T.J. Eckleburg's Glasses
Fool's Gold
The ``Death Car"
The Girls in the Yellow Dresses
Yellow Cocktail Music
Jordan
Baker
Daisy
Buchanan
Nick
Caraway
Tom
Buchanan
Jay
Gatsby
I swear I'm old money, old sport
The colour yellow acts as a motif in the novel, representing the illusion of "old money" and wealth because of its similarity to gold.
Although Jay Gatsby is 'green', he strives to be 'gold'. Gatsby buys a yellow car to give off this illusion, and win the affection of Daisy. The Coupe did not fool anyone, Gatsby did not have old wealth.
"The only building in sight was a small block of
yellow
brick sitting on the edge of the waste land, a sort of compact Main Street ministering to it, and contiguous to absolutely nothing." (24)
Gold and Silver are used throughout The Great Gatsby to represent "Old Money". This is used because gold is the authentic, traditional "Old Money". It's what these families used as means for exchange.
Green is used to represent the American Dream. The American Dream was supposed to be about being happy, but "being happy" soon meant "being rich". Coincidentally, green in this novel is also used to represent the national currency (hence "New Money").

Gold Characters
Green Characters
Yellow is also used to draw notice. Notice this! The purpose of Gatsby's parties is to attract the eyes of Daisy Buchanan.
The Yellow in Gatsby and His Parties
It's a veneer and shows anything but the rich, pure substance.
In this instance, yellow is fake, dishonest, and even cowardly. People and objects described as this colour use their counterfeit facade to hide their true identity.
At Gatsby's party, the girls in yellow seem to follow Jordan Baker around, who is coincidentally addressed as golden by Nick.
"A pair of stage twins, who turned out to be the girls in
yellow
, did a baby act in costume, and champagne was served in glasses bigger than finger-bowls. " (46)
"The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing
yellow
cocktail music, and the opera of voices pitches a key higher." (40)
Gatsby's Car
Gatsby's beautiful yellow coupe was made out to be an innocent purchase, but it was bought with the corrupt money acquired from bootlegging. Gatsby's "death car" gives yellow a new motif of corruption and the corrosion of values.
With Daisy at the wheel, Gatsby's new car ran over Myrtle Wilson, and the car was no longer beautiful. Gatsby covered it up to keep Daisy safe, just like he did with the truth about his past.
At Gatsby's parties, yellow represents the lack of values of the phony individuals who attend them. All they do is show up uninvited, drink excessively, gossip about Gatsby, and attempt to pick up rich men.
Gatsby and his extravagant parties seem to be filled with the imagery of yellow.
Hopefully this yellow makes me look rich
Examples
"'It was a
yellow
car,' he said, 'big
yellow
car. New.'" (139)
"The “death car,” as the newspapers called it, didn’t stop; it came out of the gathering darkness, wavered tragically for a moment, and then disappeared around the next bend." (137)
"The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic — their irises are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous
yellow
spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose."
(23)
Theme
Dr. T.J. Eckleburg watching over Wilson's yellow garage signifies the isolation and selfishness that the characters in the novel surrounded themselves with.
The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg symbolize the eyes of God, and the faith that God's always watching. His yellow glasses look over the wasteland of America, blocking America from seeing the cruel, hypocritical nation it has become.

Daisy, Jordan, and Myrtle
In the beginning of the novel, Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker wear white dresses, giving them the illusion of purity.
Throughout the story, Daisy and Jordan’s clothes slowly change from white to a golden yellow as the characters' impurities are revealed.
The dress Myrtle Wilson wears at Tom's party is described by Nick as “cream- colored”. When Myrtle wears the yellowish dress, every aspect of her personality changes into something fake and dishonest.

“With the influence of the dress her personality had also undergone a change.”
(30)
Myrtle Wilson being somebody she isn't. But let's pretend she's wearing yellow.
Are these girls really what they seem?
In conclusion, F. Scott Fitzgerald used the colour yellow to depict the idea that
Play me!
With the novel's new motif, yellow gives objects a different interpretation.
Wilson's Yellow Garage
"In a corrupt social period, an individual's hypocrisy of the rich and loss of reality can lead to irreversible consequences."
Hannah Silver - ENG4U
Full transcript