Let the Light Show the Way

Ron Sally

Throughout The Great Gatsby there are many examples of Fitzgerald's use of symbolism and imagery. . respected man. he timelessly and masterfully elaborates upon theme of change. As any great author. When Gatsby became a young military officer in Louisville before he left to fight in World War One. Paragraph 1 . but utterly unreachable. is visible. 2010 Introduction The Great Gatsby imposes the reflection of a decadent and dissolute society from his time to current times. Before Jay made his wealth. he fell in love with not only a woman. Today powerful business executives strive to find meaning in their lives of fast cars and fat paychecks. Gatsby set out a goal to receive an education. he had early aspirations of becoming a wealthy. the green light.ENG 4U0 Mrs. is one of the multifarious pieces of symbolism in the novel. Many of the symbols in The Great Gatsby are associated with colors. Fitzgerald uses symbolism to show certain qualities that surround each character. The green light is a symbol for Gatsby's life. he makes use of complex imagery. he was being raised in an impoverished family in North Dakota. Inferior because of Daisy's wealth. One of Fitzgerald s main themes. Growing up on a farm. chooses powerful phrasing. Paragraph 1 Point #1 Fitzgerald construes Jay Gatsby as an envious. The green light represents an ambition that people long and search for which in this case. "The Great Gatsby". Scott Fitzgerald emphasizes the many themes that are relevant to its time period as well as life itself. but her wealth. F. which effectively compounds their importance.Introduction In his provocative novel. and wealth to win Daisy over. hope and promise for our future. The green light is the search for our dreams. jealous man who is pursuing an ambition that is being driven by his lost love in the past. Anderson-Reeves November 5th. surroundings and charm. and relates these things to the common man by use of figurative language. Almost every character or event in Fitzgerald's novel is described by particular colors. therefore adding meaning to events that are taking place. The importance of Fitzgerald's writing is derived from his mastery of incorporating figurative language into his work. When Fitzgerald opens his work.

Gatsby uses the money for his lust for pleasure and to make himself attractive to Daisy." the death is "light green. The "green light" is symbolic of Daisy. and where America reached the apogee of freedom. Knowing that Tom possessed the wealth and the amenities that come with it. youth and spring. the one and only love of his life." his large green lawn and his green ivy around his house ). It is clear that Daisy enjoys a large amount of wealth." Gatsby made his first appearance in the book by walking out towards the bay. is parallel to the American Dream but is also symbolic of envy and money in society. Fitzgerald's use of the "green light" to symbolize Daisy and the fact that the "green light" is something that Gatsby wants to obtain is. and the idea of being his wife was overwhelmingly practical for Daisy. and in Gatsby's case poverty. therefore. Fitzgerald uses green to demonstrate the effect of money that has on Gatsby life. " She vanished into her rich house.and distinguished nothing except a single green light. Fitzgerald links all of Gatsby's belongings to money (The interior of Gatsby's car has a "green leather conservatory. Gatsby's doughty effort to become wealthy was what simply made Gatsby "great. full life. Immigrants portrayed it as the American Dream while Fitzgerald made it synonymous to the "green light.. into her rich. Paragraph 1 Point #2 The green light. and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. but green is also the color of something else that Gatsby lacked-money. and optimism is symbolic to the American Dream. he was financially elite. Gatsby. Paragraph 1 Point #3 .. minute and far away." The green light in general. representing a guided light for ambition. which symbolizes hope. that might have been the end of the dock. by establishing themselves to a place where prayers were becoming reality. is also symbolic to Gatsby s character. comparable to Gatsby's desire for money. a revenant to Daisy. The Green light unites the hope and promise for pioneering Americans to prosper. ". Gatsby realized that he needed to be wealthy in order for Daisy to find him suitable. Involuntarily I glanced seaward . tries to complete his last ambition. Tom Buchanan fit two out here three requirements. but its importance to Daisy only becomes clear when Fitzgerald's reveals her motives for marrying Tom. dreams. Over the dock shines a green light where Gatsby reaches out for during the night. leaving Gatsby-nothing" (157). to rekindle her love of him. overlooking Daisy's dock. The color green. Gatsby needs money to live the life that he has always dreamed about. Immigrants during this time period seeked a way to escape prejudice. Only Gatsby is facing many obstacles along the way. Money controls the people in this novel. Fitzgerald makes the difference between Daisy and Gatsby clear when he says. Gatsby is reaching out to Daisy.he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way."(25) Evidently.Though Gatsby made his wealth through organized crime.

Fitzgerald makes a good case for the valley of ashes . One sees Gatsby's unwavering hope after his all night vigil at the Buchanan's house. Gatsby's purpose of living on West Egg stems from the hope of one day encountering Daisy and the possibility of starting where the relationship had left off. Daisy kills Myrtle with Gatsby's car. these people are the garbage of society. This was done with no respect towards humanity. a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again" (6). and to accomplish the American Dream. Anyone who stood in the way or that couldn't be helpful was left behind in the valley of ashes. boat. and death. Much of the horror of the novel takes place in the valley of ashes. He was clutching at some last hope and I couldn't bear to shake him free" (155). He couldn't possibly leave Daisy until he knew what she was going to. Even after Gatsby encounters the harsh reality that Daisy is married. Gray is the color of garbage. It was the hope of impressing Daisy that led Gatsby to spend a fortune on his house. Nick realizes that Gatsby is gifted with an optimistic hope that if he works hard enough. Paragraph 2 Intro The valley of ashes located between the two major business cities of North York and West Egg. it also symbolizes his hope which is at the root of the light's other symbolic meanings. Therefore. The "green light" is symbolic of Gatsby's hope of one day being with Daisy. After learning about Daisy's child with Tom. resulting from the desire to attain material wealth. This "garbage society" are those who never had a dream or failed to accomplish it. or so he thinks. is a synonym of failure. cars. just as the "green light" symbolizes Daisy. The valley of ashes is the center where by all morally bad decisions/actions occurs. "He wouldn't consider it. The color gray in the novel represents mischievous behavior. Gatsby is still certain that she will choose him. The valley of ashes is the place where no morals exist. and it is Gatsby's hope that allows him to concentrate his life on the pursuit of Daisy. It is Gatsby's hope that pushes him to build his wealth. when Nick says. The people who live in the valley of ashes are all described as gray people. he will get what he desires--Daisy. The valley of ashes is the symbolic representation of moral and social decay. he was still hopeful that they would be together. and has enough money. "it was an extraordinary gift for hope. The valley of ashes. The idea of the "green light" is always there for Gatsby it shows him the way to happiness. also is the description of the people living in the valley of ashes. Though Daisy proved Gatsby wrong by admitting that she had loved Tom.Thirdly. Tom has an affair with Myrtle. Gatsby is still hopeful that one day he will be with her. Gatsby's undying hope is most evident after Daisy proclaims that she had loved Tom and then returns home to East Egg. and are of no greater value than garbage. Fitzgerald uses the "green light" to symbolically portray Gatsby's undying hope. and lifestyle. Nick acknowledges Gatsby's undying hope when he says. and George Wilson decides to murder Gatsby. and Gatsby's pursuit of wealth. The valley of ashes functions as the dumping ground for the rich.

but . of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. known as the Valley of Ashes. Eckleburg. which Nick claimed was ".and that the dream gives way to ashes. The eyes are representative of the eyes of God. over the solemn dumping ground of worn out hopes" (121). J. The contrast is no longer that of the sort of money. brooding over the Valley of Ashes. but the image is doomed. the larger contrast is that between the Eggs and the Valley of Ashes. the point of no return when Daisy hits Mrs. It seems as though this God simply watches over the people and maybe even protects them. The death of Gatsby comes ironically from George Wilson's total misunderstanding of the world from which the Buchanans and Myrtle come. Wilson's surroundings is truly a stark contrast to that of Gatsby's.and like Eckleburg. From the "dreamland" of the Eggs. "This is a valley of ashes. George Wilson..the dream will turn to dust. but that of the absence of money. As the novel closes. become what is left of the Son of God Gatsby has imagined himself to be. the experience of Gatsby and his broken dream become the focus of that historic dream for which he stands. he has created a god like image of himself. and it is dramatically appropriate that the custodian of the Valley of Ashes. one finds the antithesis of harsh reality. Eckleburg. Wilson. is extremely impoverished. It is written that.a colossal affair by any standard. it is the Valley of Ashes that serves as the mid-way point between the city and the country." The indigence of Mr. Paragraph 2 Moreover. should be Gatsby's murderer. the Valley of Ashes is where the major downfall of the story occurs. Paragraph 3 Intro Certainly Gatsby's dreams turn to ashes. a poor garage owner and his wife. where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally. Gatsby also has occasion to brood over the ashes of the past. The picture Fitzgerald paints of this region is a grim and desolate one. J. a peaceful escape from the hubbub of the city where responsibilities are inconsequential. Where the road and the railroad intersect." (11) Furthermore.a fantastic farm were ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens.is made clear through descriptive detail. located between the city and the Eggs. T. "Gatsby is a kind of T. This valley.being representative of the plight of the poor who are forced to live in these "desolate" conditions. In effect.starving them of self respect and prosperity. The eyes of Dr. They look down upon the people who pass through the valley and judge them. brood the eyes of Dr.a vision of America as the continent of lost innocence and lost illusions. "The interior was unprosperous and bare: the only car visible was he dust-covered wreck of a Ford which crouched in a dim corner. the fine line is drawn. Over the desolate area. Fitzgerald would like the reader to see a much broader picture of the theme.. Their assets exemplify the opposite end of the spectrum." (26) In the Valley of Ashes live the Wilson's. That Wilson is the demise of Gatsby's dream. In the final thoughts of the novel. Describing their home above the garage Nick recounted. Eckleburg. with a transcendent effort.

good or bad. Eckleberg. Tom Buchanan's lover. To Jay. While they can still be thought of as the eyes of God. in the end. Gatsby did this when he believed that the green light on Daisy's dock was a sign that he should be with Daisy. J. remembered.near the end of the novel. since he lost his mistress when Myrtle died. they see all of the things that people do . Looking further into the symbolic message behind the eyes of Dr. The thought that the paintings are the eyes of God could just be the angered ramblings of a troubled husband to his cheating wife. the light was actually just the lamp that was placed on the end of the Buchanan's dock. In reality. it could be argued that the appearance of the eyes has a completely meaning than their actual position in the Valley of Ashes. to some people it is to become famous. Her death was a sentence for selling her soul for the love of money. They act as a judge of virtue and. Many times. Conclusion To some people the American dream is to make money. the fact that Daisy killed Myrtle was torturous to Gatsby because he realized that she was not the infallible creature that he remembered her being or that he wanted her to be. elements are read too much into and given meanings that are not really there. 167) that Myrtle is reminded that her misdeeds have been seen. First. they punish all of those who had questionable morals. Since these eyes watch over the people. The other punishment came when George Wilson murdered Gatsby due to his belief that he murdered his wife. Eckleburg that are painted on the billboard may simply be that they are a very old advertisement for an oculist. Jay Gatsby was another person penalized because of Myrtle's death. it may be more correct to assume that the fact that they are fading means that the God that judges morality has been abandoned and replaced by the evils of money and status. The punishments began with the death of Myrtle Wilson. it could be concluded that the power of this God to look over the people who pass through the ruined paradise that is the Valley of Ashes has also been forgotten. everything you've been doing. It is only when George Wilson explains to his wife that "God knows what you've been doing. It was also a penalization for Tom. This could be considered Gatsby's punishment for not telling anybody the truth about Daisy or for not being honest with people when it came to his past. T. and judged. The actual meaning behind the enormous eyes of Dr. it was to be married to Daisy. Since its very creator has abandoned the sign. J. You may fool me but you can't fool God!" (p. Jay's dream was forbidden to start with because . that idea appears to be the opposite of what the God really does. T.

and immoral ways to achieve his dream took him to his grave. whether it is money. social standing. His dream consumed his life so much that it had changed him to the point where he was no longer a human. The dangers of coveting what other people have. Jay's dream was his own death. The Great Gatsby as he came to be known. in that the rest of his life was spent trying to relive the past. or another man's wife. Scott Fitzgerald wants us to take home with us. And finally. It is my belief that is what F.she was married. His life in this story is one of constantly wanting what other people have. He was more of a zombie who was driven to do anything it would take to realize his dream. His strong ambition. . was just a young boy who wanted love more than anything else in life. Jay's dream was diluted because he wanted things to be as they were in the past.

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