Great Gatsby Green Light Essay, Research Paper
Green Light in the Great Gatsby
After the events of this story have unfolded, the narrator Nick, focuses on the man
most like himself; Gatsby. Both Nick Carraway and Jay Gatz hail from the mid-west,
where morals and the right way of getting ahead are instilled into them. They travel to
New York, where the morals are paper-thin and everything seems turned upside down.
The saps with morals stay in the ashheaps while the careless, foolhardy upper society do
what they please. Nick stays true to the mid-west morals of an earnest, hardworking
living while Gatsby tries to be just like the others on East Egg. Nick says this of him,
?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-tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms
further…..And one fine morning-? (189). A central theme of the novel I think, is the idea
that people aren?t satisfied with what they have, they are always going further and further,
never knowing when to stop, and always striving for that bright star that ?seemed so close
that he could hardly fail to grasp it.? (189).
To Gatsby the green light symbolizes Daisy, Daisy in a way represents her peers in
the same social strata as her. Daisy is a fool, living vicariously and so are the characters in
this book. The green light represents the wild and recklessness of the times. These were
times when women for the first time were drinking and smoking alongside the guys, their
war was over and so were their troubles. The green light for them means go, after most
wars the economy experiences a boom, this was no different. They are cocksure, thinking
that whatever they do is right, and they always push on. They don?t care what happens to
others as long as they remain untouched and unrivaled.
This selfishness is shown in nearly all characters except Nick, who accepts his life
and is satisfied. He works hard and scrapes by, but he is living the life he wants, ?I am one
of the few honest men that I have ever known.?(64). He?s sensible and thinks out his
actions. He doesn?t have the green gleam in his eye that everyone else seems to have. He
is an observer to the situation, and when he talks of Gatsby believing in the Green Light,
he sums up Gatsby?s philosophy and possibly what was written in the back of his most
recent edition of ?Hopalong Cassidy?; the way to live his life dedicated to Daisy. His
whole life was devoted to re-wooing Daisy and finally have that ?one fine morning? when
she would be his completely. I do not think that he knew when to stop.
Once Gatsby achieves his dreams and Daisy is now seeing him on a regular basis,
he doesn?t know what to do. This whole time he wanted her so much and he couldn?t get
her, he was dreaming. Dreaming that the green light would shine on him, and once it did,
he couldn?t help but go further, stretch his arms just a little further, and ask Daisy to leave
her husband. On page 139 in the hotel scene Daisy says to Jay, ?Oh, you want to much! I
love you know—isn?t that enough?? But for Gatsby it isn?t enough, he wants more and
more and really it is this dream of ?one fine morning? that is the reason he is killed. He
lives his life as a dream. He accomplishes the ?American Dream? by coming from nothing
and getting everything but all his profit go to Daisy, she is his dream all along, and it is
from this situation that in the end he is killed, caught in the tangled web of the Buchanans
Tom is a good example of not knowing when to stop. He was born into wealth
and went to a prominent college. His life is set up, he has wealth, a beautiful wife, a child,
a lavish lifestyle, and no worries. His decision to have extra-marital affairs is a key
example of ?stretching his arms?, and indulging himself to the point of fallout. This is
common among his peers, the rich New York crowd.
Gatsby follows Daisy from the time he arrives back until the day he actually has his
dreams come true and he meets her. She is symbolized by the green light at the end of her
dock. To me, this green light is representative of not only Daisy, but of all the other
people in her social class who love the color green as well, and happen to live on the East
Egg. I say they love the color green because all they are interested in is money. Money is
an important factor in this novel. When Gatsby flaunts his money around he gets people?s
attention. When he dies and can no longer shine his green light, the attention dies too.
The New York society is very materialistic, and Gatsby has everything someone in
a material world could want; a huge house, servants, lots of cars, fame, and extra money
to throw around to parties and houseguests. He has everything except personal
satisfaction. He knows that Daisy is the answer, and she is represented in the light. In a
way, the far-off green light represents all that is unobtainable to Gatsby. It is his pipe
dream. He has already conquered a material world, and all that drives him in this novel
has to do with him gaining the green light and having Daisy shine from his dock.
I think Daisy can easily be compared to her peers; the kind of people that attend
Gatsby?s parties. They are driven by ?green?. They love money and are attracted to
anyone that has it and is willing to spend it. This can be seen on page 50 when Nick
stumbles into the library where Owl Eyes is admiring Gatsby?s books, ?It?s a bona fide
piece of printed matter. It fooled me. This fella?s a regular Belasco.? He doesn?t even
know the man, ?I was brought by a woman named Roosevelt. I?ve been drunk for about a
week now.? (50) He doesn?t know Gatsby, but he likes him none the less based on his
shallow values. Owl Eyes is a common man in this society and his words give us insight
to these people.
They don?t care who?s house they party at, they are wild, unbridled, and reckless
people who are living their lives for fun. This is how Gatsby had it planned. He hopes
from the very first party that Daisy would be one of the people stumbling to his front door,
she would see him, fall in love again, and she would be his in every sense, just like it
should have happened. In a sense he?s trying to bring the glow of the East Egg over to
the West. It is not only Daisy who has this green light, most all the people that live on
East Egg do as well. They go-go-go, and never look back. They?re going too fast, there
is no way that this can last; hence the number of wrecks and collisions in this book.
When Owl Eyes crashes his car, they ask him how it happened, ?Don?t ask me, I
know very little about driving-next to nothing,? (59) is how he replies. They don?t ever
realize that they could learn from their actions. They do something, it happens, and they
say, ?At first I din? notice we?d stopped.? (60) Then they gear up and go-go-go some
more. Its very easy for these people to put the blame somewhere else, and if they can?t
think of a reason this doesn?t seem to bother them. Daisy kills a lady, sees her lover killed,
and then takes a vacation to reset and we can only assume that it will continue. Daisy?s
light will continue to shine, constantly interrupting the lives of the people she comes
Daisy in is a situation that is comfortable for her. She has security, a family, and
no real worries. It is her way of being a ?beautiful little fool? (21) that allows her this
freedom. Tom goes out with other women, abuses Daisy, and she doesn?t do a thing
about it. Daisy has her green light shining, and it is accomplished by being a fool. She
doesn?t seem to register that this is an unhealthy marriage, all she lives for is her easy,
lethargic way of life. When things get rough, all she has to do is hide in the shadow of her
?great big hulking specimen? (16) of a husband, Tom. When Daisy hits Myrtle she runs
back to Tom and everything straightens itself out, and even when they were in Chicago we
were made to believe that something of this sort might have happened before when Daisy
says to Tom, ?You?re revolting, do you know why we left Chicago? I?m suprised they
didn?t treat you to the story of that little spree.? (139) It seems Daisy?s light will always
be shining, drawing people into the tangled marriage of her and Tom.
Gatsby in some way knows Daisy is materialistic. He tells Nick, ?Her voice is full
of money.? Nick agrees and writes, ?It was full of money-that was the inexhaustible charm
that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals? song of it…High in a white palace the
king?s daughter, the golden girl..?(127) He has worked to where he?s at just so he could
show Daisy how much money he has and it helps him a lot. Daisy, after touring the
mansion starts to cry, ?It makes me sad because I?ve never seen such-such beautiful shirts
before.? (98) He has finally shown her what he has and what he can give her, and Daisy
decides that she will make her move in the chess game that her and her husband seem to
be playing by having an affair as well.
It seems to me that in some sense that to the Buchanans Gatsby and Myrtle are
mere playthings, there for their personal entertainment. I?m sure that the green light did
not shine only for Gatsby, Myrtle was no doubt caught by this beacon in Tom. To Myrtle
Tom glows, he stinks of the fact that she hopes Tom will be her knight in shining armor.
Myrtle hopes to marry Tom, and she?s sure that he would, except, ?(Daisy?s) a Catholic
and they don?t believe in divorce.? (38). All Tom wants is to live vicariously, he cares
practically nothing about Myrtle when compared to the way she feels about him. To her
he?s the answer and not even abuse will drive her away. Myrtle, in search of her ?one fine
morning? finds only death, resembling Gatsby. She is mesmerized by Tom?s empty
promises, similar to Daisy and Jay?s relationship.
Gatsby is hypnotized by Daisy?s light as well. He hadn?t seen or talked to Daisy
since the day he left Louisville. All he has is the idea of Daisy. This idea that he has that
she is the most perfect, best woman in the world is somehow pinnacled in the green light.
On page 25, ?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.? Gatsby is entranced by this green
light because it symbolizes Daisy. All he has is knowing that she is over there somewhere
because the light at the end of her dock is shining. He doesn?t know her situation, if she?s
still the same person he fell in love with, or even if she would talk to him. The only thing
he knows is that she?s there and he still loves her.
Gatsby and Myrtle both try to break into the closed, old-money society of the East
Egg. They don?t realize that some dreams, no-matter how you try, come true. America
was based on the dream that anything can come true and Gatsby swallows this idea whole.
In the end he went to far and it meant his demise.
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