Summary and Analysis of an Excerpt from ‘The Great Gatsby’
The excerpt is taken from chapter eight where details of Gatsby’s demise are given. In the chapter, Gatsby is having a discussion with Nick who is attempting to coax him into leaving Daisy. However, Gatsby is not for the idea for he has loved Daisy for her youth and social position for so long that he had even contemplated to marry her. Daisy made the promise to get married to Gatsby but broke it to marry Tom because of his better social position. This discussion between Gatsby and Nick sets the opening for the excerpt. The Gardener had interrupted Gatsby’s discussion with Nick to inform him that he intended to drain the pool, which was at risk of clogging due to falling summer leaves. However, Gatsby informs the gardener to wait for another day so he could go for a swim. Gatsby also leaves peculiar instructions concerning his car that needed repair.
While floating on the mattress in the pool, Gatsby is having a revelation concerning his life. The character perhaps new of his incoming demise, but equally did not care. He looks up to the sky, which at this point is no longer familiar to him and realizes the cold nature of his world. Moreover, Gatsby regrets the life costs associated with his living a dream. It is while having these revelations that Gatsby is shot. In the present, Nick is the speaker, narrating on how the Chauffeur gave little thought to the shots. Nick goes to see Gatsby immediately after he leaves work. From the moment he reached Gatsby’s house, he realizes things are off. Him, the butler, gardener, and the chauffeur hurry to the pool to find Gatsby’s dead body floating in the pool, his blood slowly tracing the loss of life down out of the pool.
The unfamiliarity of the sky denotes Gatsby’s fickle existence as he nears his incoming death. The character’s dream has reduced from a life of love with Daisy to one of acquiring materials gains as the object of his desire no longer believes in his dream. Gatsby throughout the play is respected for his imagination. Therefore, the realization of his fickle existence informs the reader that Gatsby has lost his greatness. People no longer value his ability to imagine or dream. In the chapter, the author makes it clear to the reader through the falling of leaves that there is an incoming transition of seasons from summer to autumn. The latter season is associated with the ending of life as winter nears. It is perhaps the change, which makes Gatsby aware of his incoming judgment. However, Gatsby inside is already dead because he never accepted the fact that there are things in life beyond his control. In the end, Gatsby’s refusal makes him live an unfamiliar life.
Gatsby’s death in the pool creates several distinct images for the reader. For one, the character is alone despite having so many friends at the onset of the narrative. This illustrates the cruelty of life where friendships are based on success, wealth, and social position. Secondly, the nature of his death is somehow a form of rebirth. Gatsby is in a pool and water is normally used to symbolize rebirth specifically when characters emerge from it. However, from the excerpt, one can argue that Gatsby’s realization while floating on the mattress denotes his rebirth. Thirdly, one admires the uniqueness of Gatsby’s personality. Despite having money and engaging in questionable dealings, Gatsby’s ability to dream ascertains that he does not behave the same way as the elites of his society. The realities of life are normally harsh to dreamers. On the other hand, dreams exist in parallels to the physical world. Therefore, Gatsby’s death must have come as a good thing for him as it fashioned continuity of his dreaming in another dimension of life.
‘Gatsby shouldered the mattress and started for the pool’ (Fitzgerald 172): The image in the sentence is synonymous with the image of Jesus Christ while carrying his cross where he was later killed. The image is reinforced further by Gatsby’s abrupt halt to reposition it. At this instance, the Chauffeur offers to provide assistance, which Gatsby refuses. On the road to Golgotha, Simon offers to help Jesus when he falls from the weight of his cross.
‘Its accidental course with its accidental burden’ (Fitzgerald 172): Spoken by Nick, the speaker reveals the unfortunate role fortune plays in determining the course of events. In a precedent chapter, the reader was informed of Wilson’s pursuit of the driver of the car that had killed Myrtle. However, Wilson was unaware of the fact that the driver was Daisy and not Gatsby. Through the statement, the speaker reveals that Gatsby’s death was an act of mistaken identity and self-delusion in the killer. Fortune has been in play throughout Gatsby’s life. For instance, he is seen to Oxford accidentally where he unexpectedly falls in love with Daisy. Fortune ascertains that Gatsby interacts with people above his social status. Therefore, his rejection by Daisy is only an act of life regaining balance. So is his death. In essence, Gatsby is a victim of fortunate events.
Nick in the excerpt argues that Gatsby must have come to the realization of how ‘the rose is a grotesque thing.’ Throughout classical literature, the rose has been a symbol of beauty. However, Nick attaches a divergent meaning to the flower. The character shows that roses are not inherently beautiful. People attach the beauty valuation because they wish to. In the small sentence, the grotesque rose symbolizes Daisy. On the outside, she is very beautiful resulting in Gatsby investing in her as the object of his dream. However, Daisy has no sense of morality or loyalty as he marries Tom for his wealth and social position. If Gatsby had not given her this much value, Daisy would be just another woman to him.
Fitzgerald using yellow creates color symbolism in the excerpt. Consider the statement “but he shook his head and in a moment disappeared among the yellowing trees” (Fitzgerald 172). The yellow trees describe Dr. Eckleburg’s glasses, which ignore the valley of ashes. The doctor’s glasses are disturbing because they have no fixed meaning. Moreover, even though they are all-seeing, they do not represent the eyes of God. In the book, yellow is the only color used to describe the valley of ashes. Therefore, the color Yellow is used to symbolize that the American dream is not always what it is dreamt to be. Gatsby for long had the dream to become wealthy instantaneously and marry Daisy. However, none of his get rich quick schemes worked.
Fitzgerald, F S. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 1925. Print.
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