The Great Gatsby


Story Symbols and Themes

Symbols in the story are characters, figures, objects, colors, or other items that can be used to represent concepts and ideas on an abstract level.

The Green Light - At the end of the dock, at Daisy and Tom's house in East Egg, there is a tiny green light. It marks the dock so that others on the water do not make the mistake of running into it with their boats in the dark. It is barely visible from the lawn of Gatsby's West Egg home, but he is able to see it and reach out toward it. The light is a representation of the hopes and dreams that Gatsby has for his future. He associates it completely with Daisy, and even reaches out toward it physically in the first chapter, because he sees it as something in the darkness that will lead and guide him as he moves toward his goal. The quest that Gatsby has for Daisy is associated with the American dream in a very broad context. Since that is the case, the green light at the end of Daisy's dock is also a symbol for the general idea of having a dream toward which a person is striving. In the last chapter of the novel, Nick once again thinks about the light. He considers how it looked to Gatsby, and how it can be used as a metaphor for what the first people saw when they came across the ocean to settle in the new nation that eventually became America.

The Doctor's Eyes on the Billboard - The eyes are fading, but they are still clearly visible. They are part of an advertising billboard that once belonged to a doctor named T.J. Eckleburg, and they overlook the Valley of Ashes. Fitzgerald does not clearly indicate what the eyes represent. There is speculation that they may be a representation of God, looking down and placing a judgment on society in America and how it has become such a moral wasteland. That is the opinion of various critics, but not explicitly stated in the novel. Instead, Fitzgerald suggests that the symbols to which people ascribe meaning only have that meaning because people give those symbols meaning. They see what they want to see.


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Essays About The Great Gatsby