Some of the most well-known and intriguing symbolic imagery in The Great Gatsby comes from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s use of the color green. Fitzgerald used green primarily to represent two human traits in Gatsby: longing for things beyond one’s reach and hope for the future. The color green was first used symbolically as the character Nick Carraway returned from a party at the Buchanans’ house. He stopped before going into his home, seeing the mysterious Jay Gatsby in the distance. Carraway described Gatsby, saying, “…he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily, I glanced seaward – and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far way…” (Fitzgerald 20). As revealed later in the novel, Jay Gatsby bought his house on West Egg in order to be near the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan, the dock of whose house projected the green light mentioned by Carraway. Although Gatsby was so close to Daisy, he was unable to rekindle their romance because of her husband. The green light served as the manifestation of Gatsby’s desires, strong enough for him to gaze upon, but far enough away to retain its heart-wrenching intangibility. Th...
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...26). Not only was the Valley of Ashes described as gray, but its people were as well. Fitzgerald fashioned George Wilson as a spiritless and demoralized lower-class American worker. He highlighted this lack of animation and vitality by describing Wilson as covered with the same stiflingly gray dust that carpeted the rest of the Valley. Fitzgerald used gray in this case to convey a feeling of lifelessness to the reader and deepen the symbolism of the Valley of Ashes. In contrast to his symbolic use of bright colors elsewhere in The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald chose to illustrate with his words the Valley of Ashes and the people who lived there with the color gray, symbolizing the bleakness of the area and the depressing lack of hope that the people living there displayed.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.
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