Symbolism in The Great Gatsby Aubrey Wydock American Literature 11th Grade Click on the car to proceed to the main menu. Main Menu The Valley of Ashes The Green Light Yellow and Gold East and West Egg The Eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg Owl Eyes and Gatsby’s Books The Color White Heat Review Question Click on this car at any time to return to the main menu. The Green Light • Located at the end of Daisy’s East Egg dock – Barely visible from Gatsby’s West Egg lawn • Represents Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for the future – In Chapter 1, Gatsby reaches for the light in the darkness as a guiding light to lead him to his goal (Daisy) • Also symbolizes the generalized ideal of the American Dream – In Chapter 9, Nick compares the green light to how American must have looked to early setters of the new nation as it was rising out of the ocean Click on the car to return to the main menu. The Valley of Ashes • Located between West Egg and New York City – It is a desolate land created by the dumping of industrial ashes • Represents the moral and social decay that comes from the uninhibited pursuit of wealth – The rich indulge themselves with regard for nothing but their own enjoyment • Symbolizes the plight of the poor – The people who live among the ashes are seen as dirty • Ex: George Wilson – Results in lost vitality Click on the car to return to the main menu. The Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg • Located in the Valley of Ashes • May represent god looking down on and judging American society as a moral wasteland – Connection between god and the eyes exists solely in George Wilson’s mind • Also represent the essential meaninglessness of the world and the arbitrariness of the mental process by which people invest objects with meaning. – Nick explores these ideas in Chapter 8, when he imagines Gatsby’s final thoughts as a depressed consideration of the emptiness of symbols and dreams • Doctor T. J. Eckleburg’s glasses have yellow rims, which symbolize corruptness. – This may mean that he either sees corruptness everywhere, or sees through the eyes of someone who is corrupt. Click on the car to return to the main menu. The Color White • Symbolizes innocence and femininity • Used mainly when talking about Daisy – – – – The color of her car before she was with Tom Her clothes The rooms of her house Describing her • “white neck” • “white girlhood” • “high in a white palace” • The use of the color white to describe Daisy enforces the point that even the purest characters have been corrupted. Click on the car to return to the main menu. Yellow and Gold • Symbolizes money and destruction • Examples: – – – – – – – – “yellow cocktail music” “bewitched to dark gold” “two girls in yellow” “the pale gold odor of kiss-me-at-the-gate” “the golden girl” (Gatsby describing Daisy) Gatsby’s yellow car Gatsby’s gold tie Doctor T. J. Eckleburg’s glasses Click on the car to return to the main menu. East and West Egg • An egg is white on the outside and yellow on the inside. – Symbolizes a false show of purity on the outside, but rotten and corrupt on the inside. • East AND West Egg – There is deception of both sides. – East: Symbolizes “Old Money” • Money that has been passed down through the generations – West: Symbolizes “New Money” • Money that you earned yourself – Think of the United States during this time. If you lived in the eastern part, chances are your family came from that part of the country and earned their living their. If you were from the west, people were moving out towards California to try their luck at making their own living in a new way of life. Click on the car to return to the main menu. Owl Eyes and Gatsby’s Books • “Owl” being symbolic of: • His large glasses imply that he is more perceptive than the rest of the characters. – Wisdom – An omen of death – Only guest who is suspicious of Gatsby • Takes the time to investigate further • Reveals that someone else was driving the car – Involved in the car accident outside of Gatsby’s house – Only guest to come to Gatsby’s funeral • Owl Eyes is amazed that Gatsby’s bookshelves are filled with “real books” • The unopened, unread books may represent Gatsby himself. – Many upper-class people during that time would keep cardboard books on their shelves to take up room and make it appear as if they were more educated. – Throughout the novel, the rumors about him only seem to build up, and the facts remain unexamined and unopened. – The façade of the books only being there and not being read may symbolize Gatsby’s habit of acting the fraud. • He often referred to himself as an “Oxford man” when in reality he only attended there for a few months at the most. Click on the car to return to the main menu. Heat • The section of the story takes place during the summer, implying that it is hot out to begin with. • The heat symbolizes the foreshadowing of coming events. – When the drama begins to heighten, so does the temperature. – The “hottest” point in the story coincides with the climax. • The heat also presents contradictions within the characters. – Example: Gatsby’s feelings for Daisy • The heat may be symbolic of Gatsby’s nemesis or his retribution. Review Question Which of the following best represents the symbol of Gatsby’s love for Daisy? A. The Color White B. The Green Light C. The Color Yellow You chose. . . The Color White Great Try Better Luck Next Time! The color white was a symbol of Daisy’s purity and innocence. Click on the car to return to the review question. You chose. . . The Color Yellow Not Quite You’ll Be Sure To Get It! The color yellow was a symbol of money, destruction, and corruption. Click on the car to return to the review question. You chose. . . The Green Light Great Job You Got It Right! Click on the car to finish. Click on the smiley face to return to the title slide. Well done!