The Great Gatsby Green Light Essays

Green Means Go

We hate to think about the amount of ink that's been spilled writing about the green light in Gatsby. This is a grade-A, prime-cut symbol: the "single green light" on Daisy's dock that Gatsby gazes wistfully at from his own house across the water represents the "unattainable dream," the "dream [that] must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it" (1.152, 9.149).

Okay, you're right: it's not quite that simple. The green light also represents the hazy future, the future that is forever elusive, as Nick claims in the last page of the novel: "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter – to-morrow we will run farther, stretch out our arms farther…." (9.149). But if the green light represents Gatsby's dream of Daisy, in the past, then how does it represent the future, as well? Is the future always tied to our dreams of the past?

One last thing. Red-green traffic lights began to be installed in the U.S. in the 1910s and 1920s. Coincidence? Maybe. But our money's on not.

The Green Light In The Great Gatsby

The Green Light in The Great Gatsby

The flashing light at the end of the dock across the water is first symbolically associated with Daisy. However, throughout the novel it gains new aspects and connotations, covering a full circle at the end of the novel. Throughout the novel the green light symbolizes various elements: Daisy's love, money, renewal, death, and American Dream.

The green light is introduced in chapter one for the first time:

He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way... a single green light,

minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.

The position of this green light reminds the reader of East Egg where Daisy Buchanan lives. Therefore, the first symbolic association is established between the green light and Daisy in the first chapter and the followings.

In chapter four the color green is associated with money and material comfort. The green leather conservatory of Gatsby's cream-colored car attracts the reader's attention. The real purpose behind Gatsby's lavish parties and his choice of habitat across the bay, just opposite the Buchanan's, is revealed to be a lure for Daisy so that she would drop by to his place one day. Thus the green light symbolizes Gatsby's obsession with Daisy's love and wealth.

Fitzgerald illuminates another angle of the green light in chapter five. The green house shipped to Nick's house meant for beautifying his house for the sake of Daisy's rendezvous with Gatsby connotes growth and renewal. In this way Gatsby celebrates Daisy's girlhood love towards himself.

In this chapter Gatsby's reference to the symbolic green light both heightens and changes its direction. Suddenly the visible angles of the symbol lose color, enabling the reader to eye the invisible perspectives towards the end of the novel.

Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now

vanished for ever. Now it was again a green light on a deck. His count of enchanted

objects had diminished by one.

There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of

his dreams- not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion.

Gatsby's conscious admission reveals an important fact to the reader that maybe Daisy has been only a conscious symbolic means for Gatsby's subconscious pursuit of a dream that will be revealed to be the American...

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