Date of publication: 2017-08-26 21:14
So just as Gatsby falls in love with Daisy and her wealthy status, Nick also seems attracted to Jordan for similar reasons. However, this conversation not only foreshadows the tragic car accident later in the novel, but it also hints at what Nick will come to find repulsive about Jordan: her callous disregard for everyone but herself.
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The green light is a permanently lit electric lamp that marks the end of Daisy and Tom’s boat dock. It’s a way to warn boats at night or during inclement weather that there is a structure there - this is why it is always on.
In flashback, we hear about Daisy and Gatsby’s first kiss, through Gatsby’s point of view. We see explicitly in this scene that, for Gatsby, Daisy has come to represent all of his larger hopes and dreams about wealth and a better life – she is literally the incarnation of his dreams. There is no analogous passage on Daisy’s behalf, because we actually don’t know that much of Daisy’s inner life, or certainly not much compared to Gatsby.
However, during the novel, Gatsby’s dream is revealed to be the delusional conviction that he could ignore five years of events and Daisy’s own personality and inner life to get what he wants. With this disappointment, the symbolic meaning behind the green light collapses. Daisy is not a magically perfect creature, but instead a fallible and deeply flawed person. The love Gatsby feels for her can only be played out as a secretive and morally questionable affair. And the green light loses its “enchanted” qualities and instead is revealed to be the not particularly reliable indicator that it actually is (suddenly, it becomes invisible in the fog).
Gatsby gets the chance to show off his mansion and enormous wealthy to Daisy, and she breaks down after a very conspicuous display of Gatsby’s wealth, through his many-colored shirts.
The green light is a kind of affiliation test for Gatsby. Those who imbue it with meaning like he does (like Nick) end up sympathizing with Gatsby those who only see it as an object (like Daisy and Tom) are doomed to dismiss Gatsby also.
However, this separation of the green light from its symbolic meaning is somehow sad and troubling. Gatsby seemingly ignores Daisy putting her arm through his because he is “absorbed” in the thought that the green light is now just a regular thing. Nick’s observation that Gatsby’s “enchanted objects” are down one sounds like a lament - how many enchanted objects are there in anyone’s life?