The quote "material without being real" shows the emptiness of an existence with the realization of a tainted ideal. Fittingly, this quote from Nick is placed after Daisy leaves Gatsby. Nick is imagining what Gatsby would be thinking if he had understood that the goal, winning Daisy and her materialistic insubstantiality, was unworthy of his effort. Fitzgerald does not specifically state if Gatsby is or is not waiting for the phone call from Daisy. If Gatsby has realized that Daisy will not call, then he has undergone the self-recognition of the tragic hero. If he is waiting for the phone call, then he is still holding on to his idealized goal. While this shows that he is holding onto the part of his life: that which marked his personality as more substantial Daisy's personality, it also illustrates the futility of reaching for a corrupted goal.
Many Americans today may lack the motivation of Jay Gatsby in the quest for his "pure" dream. Their existence is strictly materialistic. Such individuals view the purpose of education not as serving to perfect of one's intellect, but to secure a job. Every day they perform the same dull and tedious routine, their only goal being the receipt of a paycheck which they will redeem ultimately for social status. Some do have dreams, and to their life is added new meaning through the reaching for a goal. It is this reaching, the gaining of enjoyable and constructive experience, which gives purpose to their work that diminishes the monotony of their daily existence. Whereas the straight materialists will eventually spend their "dream," the experience that a "reacher" gains cannot be taken away.