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The Color Code in The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby is full of symbolism. Colours, for example, are used to represent many different things; some even represent a theme of the novel. White, yellow, grey, green are just some of the colours which Fitzgerald uses in a special way, because each of these colours has a special meaning, different from the ones we regularly know or use.
White is a colour which appears many times throughout the novel. At first, it is used to describe Daisy. The first thing Nick mentions when he sees Daisy in East Egg is that she is wearing a white dress. This colour is related to Daisy, it is "her" colour. Daisy´s clothes are always white, her car is white, she even speaks about her "white childhood". This colour represents her purity, her innocence, her unperturbed self.
But "white" is not as innocent as it seems...When Gatsby takes Nick for a ride in his car, he is stopped by a policeman. Gatsby acts fast and shows the officer a white card, and the latter immediately excuses himself. At first, Gatsby makes Nick believe that it was a Christmas card sent to him by the commissioner, but later on we learn that Gatsby had bribed the police officer. So, in contrast, "white" also represents corruption.
"White" can also be related to Tom, who is the perfect example of a racist man. He believes that black people should disappear, and is very concerned about a book he has recently read called The Rise of the Coloured Empire. He believes that white is the superior race. So, black and white are used to show how racism affected people from the high classes at that time. While riding in Gatsby´s car, Nick sees a limousine driven by a white chauffeur and ridden by black passengers, members of the high society. This shows how strongly black people fought to conquer or fulfil their so-called "American Dream", which at that time was even more difficult for black people (former slaves) than for white ones.
Another important colour, which calls our attention at the beginning, when we meet Gatsby, is green. When Nick sees Gatsby for the first time in his backyard, he notices that Gatsby is looking intensely at a green light in the distance, with his arms stretched towards it, as if trying to reach it.
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Yellow and blue also make a difference in the novel. Gatsby´s car is yellow, Tom´s car is blue. If both had been black (as they usually were in those times) Gatsby would not have been killed by George Wilson. So, yellow, in a way, lead to Gatsby´s death.
Another importance of these colours is that Dr. Eckleburg´s eyes are bright blue, and his spectacles yellow. This may not seem important at first but the colour of the eyes do make a difference. If Dr. Eckleburg´s eyes had been brown instead of blue, they would not have seemed to be looking so deeply, "inside" each character.
So, as we can see, colours do make a difference in this novel. This may not be noticed at first, but each colour says more than we realise. Each colour makes a difference, highlights a different aspect. And this effect is created thanks to Fitzgerald´s excellent and incomparable ability to write.