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Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

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1 Symbolism in The Great Gatsby

2 Gray Gray is the color of dreariness. It lacks spirit and definition. It shows no hope and no future. In the book the valley of the ashes is presented as gray and dust covered, especially the people who live and work there.

3 White Traditionally white is seen as a symbol of purity and goodness. In the novel Jordan and Daisy are often seen wearing white. Further, Gatsby wears white to show his honesty when he sees Daisy again for the first time in five years.

4 Green Green is one of the most interesting colors in the novel. It represents so many different things. It is intended to mean hope, something to reach toward or new hope. There is a green light on the edge of Tom and Daisy’s dock. Gatsby often stares at the green light. He is hoping to find a life with Daisy. Green is also the color of money and, therefore, wealth. The two meet in the novel because wealth is a means of reaching Daisy and reaching a station in life that one could only hope for.

5 Red Red represents blood and death. Where do we see red in the novel?

6 Yellow Yellow generally means corruptness or things that are going bad. Yellow leaves represent decay and death. The yellow of Gatsby’s car represents corruption and dishonesty.

7 Gold Gold, as can be expected, represents wealth. Gatsby uses money as a means of winning Daisy back.

8 People Myrtle—symbolizes life and vitality. She can be compared to a hearty growing plant that thrives. She is full of life and make spontaneous decisions.

9 Daisy Daisy embodies a very frail and delicate flower. She does not move much and seems to have very little energy for anything that she does. She seems incapable of making up her own mind and has no set goals or plans.

10 Tom Tom is the typical powerful man. He has money and prestige although he does not work for it. He abuses the power that he has been given and does not really even seem to realize how abusive he is with his power.

11 Nick He is at times a bystander. He sees what is going on but really does very little to stop it. He represents new money. He is not wealthy like Tom or Gatsby. He would like to be wealthy and have a lenient lifestyle but it does not work for him.

12 Gatsby Gatsby represents the American dream gone wrong. He has put Daisy on such a high pedestal that it can never work out between them. The real Daisy is not like the Daisy that he has dreamed of for five years. Ultimately this makes it worse for him and Daisy. He has worked five years for nothing.

13 The Glasses There really is no name for the character who is represented by the glasses. This is the character who stands back, watches and seems to judge the people as they pass by.

14 Love We have been talking about characters. Think on the symbolism of Gatsby, Wilson and Myrtle. They are the only ones who have truly loved. They are the only ones who did not grow up wealthy.

15 The Billboard There is the billboard with T. J. Eckelburg. It is over the valley of the ashes. It has many different meanings.

16 The Billboard (cont) There is the meaning of one who watches over everything that goes on in the valley.

17 The billboard (cont) The glasses have yellow rims which symbolizes corruption in two ways. All that it sees is corruption. It sees through the eyes of someone who is corrupt.

18 The billboard (cont) The empty face represents the hollowness of the people and their materialistic values. Even those with little money are still materialistic.

19 Miscellaneous symbols
The summer is hot and represent the heat and boiling point of the story and/or conflict.

20 Miscellaneous Cars at this point in time were a huge status symbol. Many families did not have one and no one had the flashy cars that Gatsby had. In terms of speeding and the car, it shows recklessness and careless. Jordan is a poor driver who hopes that everyone else will do well so she does not have to worry about it.

21 Eggs The live in East and West Egg—one of which is very wealthy.
Eggs are white and innocent on the outside but can be yellow and corrupt on the inside. Eggs can look sturdy but are generally very fragile on the outside.

22 Eggs East Egg is old money that has been passed down for generations—just like old money was from the East and not the Midwest.

23 Eggs West Egg represents the new money—just as new money was coming in the Midwest and the West of the United States. People in West Egg worked for the money that they had earned.

24 Eggs There is ongoing tension between the two Eggs. East Egg represents the stuffiness and dignity of old money. West Egg represents more freedom and newer thinking among those who have worked to obtain their money.

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