To what extent are Holden and Gatsby from The Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby affected by symbolism?

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There is a yearning from both Gatsby and Holden to control time. Gatsby wants to travel back in time, but can’t. To symbolise this, there is a broken clock that he knocks over. “The clock took this moment to tilt dangerously…he caught it with trembling fingers.” The broken clock is symbolic of the fact the he is stuck in the period five years ago when he and Daisy were in love which signifies his inability to move on from that time. It also represents his nervousness about the present and about how Daisy's attitude toward him may have changed. His inability to go back in time is represented by him knocking over Nick's clock, and symbolises the clumsiness of his attempt to stop time and retrieve the past. In addition, the clock is a symbol of the time that Daisy and Gatsby have lost. Although on one level it is just another awkward incident caused by Gatsby's nervousness, the fact the clock is stopped is significant. In a sense, the clock stopped at a specific point in time, trapped there forever, just as Gatsby's life when he was hit with the realisation that while he could never be with Daisy. Gatsby is, in essence, trapped by his dreams of ideal love with Daisy, just as the clock is trapped in that exact moment when it stopped working. The word “time” is written in the book 450 times, showing that time is important not only to Daisy, but to the overall storyline itself. There are flashbacks throughout the novel, with constant references to Gatsby’s past. The unstructured events the reader sees are representative of his mind – scattered and disorganised due to his overwhelming obsession with the past. Whereas Gatsby yearns to travel back in time but can’t, Holden wishes time would freeze. In The Catcher in the Rye, the museum dis... ... middle of paper ... ... she is the main dream that he will never reach. “I could see your home across the bay. You always have a green light that burns … at the end of your dock.” The green light exists because she is there, and it represents all of Gatsby’s hopes and dreams. Therefore, Daisy, the green light, and Gatsby’s future are all difficult to separate. We cannot look into Gatsby’s mind due to Nick’s first person narrative, yet he offers us third person narration in order to let us know more about Gatsby. Since Nick is both an observer and a character, he is able to give constant mentions of all three, so they become entangled in the readers mind as much as they are in Gatsby’s. So although both characters have recurring metaphors linked to the future, Holden desires to understand what will happen in the future, whereas Gatsby desires his hopes, dreams and ambitions for the future.

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