The Green Light's Significance in the Great Gatsby

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Kayleigh Scherzer
Honors English
Watson
30 April 2013
The Green Light
The image of the green light in the novel Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a significant symbol, which reflects Gatsby's dream and other aspects beyond Gatsby's desire. Throughout the novel Fitzgerald uses many other images or symbols. At first, it may seem very basic, but when the symbol is closely studied, one may see the deeper meaning found within it. Fitzgerald uses these symbols to get a point across to the reader, converting them into deeper meanings and myths about America. The green light mentioned in the novel clearly is a prime example of this. 
Before examining the significance of the green light, one must learn what a symbol is. A symbol cannot be seen as a sign. The two are very different. A sign is an object, which signifies something else. For example, a green traffic light instructs drivers to proceed. A symbol is much more complex than this. A symbol may also stand for something else as seen in its simplest case. A symbol sums up a large number of ideas and attitudes. The complexity of a symbol may be more intense than a sign because it can have several meanings in different situations (Beckson). 
The green light is first mentioned in chapter one of the Great Gatsby. Nick, the narrator of the novel, sees Gatsby curiously stretching his arms out towards the water. Nick went to see what Gatsby was looking at, and all he could see was "...nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock." (21) At this point in the novel, the symbol of the green light is introduced to the reader. The reader does not know that the light is on Daisy's dock. Therefore, one cannot affiliate Gatsby with Daisy. The reader does know that Nick admires Gatsby for his dream, which is in some way linked with the green light. The color green represents life, hope, and youth. Gatsby's fantasy will live as long as he remains gazing at the green...
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