The Great Gatsby the Color White: Symbol of Tarnish?
The color white is oftentimes unanimously associated with purity, hope, and innocence. However, in the Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the color has the deeper meaning of false purity over goodness. With the taboo characteristics that Fitzgerald's white carries, the reader is led to a false sense of security throughout the course of the novel; just how far was this rebel of a writer willing to go to break down borders? It is later found out that the symbol of white very much plays into the ironic theme of illusion versus reality. The characters in the novel are not the only ones dumbfounded at the confusion of life; things are not in the norm anymore, and Fitzgerald's new use of the color white further exemplifies the confusion of illusion versus reality amongst people during the American modernistic period.
The two leading female characters in the novel, Daisy and Jordan, are usually seen in white. In addition, Gatsby, when he wanted to meet Daisy again for the first time in five years, wore a white suit as if to show that he was good and pure, when in reality he was not. Daisy's character is enhanced by Fitzgerald's use of the color white to indicate Daisy's freshness and innocence. He notes the gleaming white house, the airy, white rooms, and Daisy lounging in a white dress. Fitzgerald evokes two meanings of white: one is the traditional meaning of purity; the second is the empowerment of whiteness. Daisy, as she is initially presented, represents both privilege and purity--a kind of princess figure. The use of white helps to characterize her as the enchanted princess who becomes incarnate as Gatsby's dream. However, the different shades of white indicate that Daisy may not be an embodiment of purity and that privilege may have a corrupting effect, at least when it is used to veil or whitewash misdeeds. This example corresponds precisely to the presentation of Daisy's character through color symbolism.