Colors in The Great Gatsby Essay

Submitted By RoevWade
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Pages: 4

Colors in The Great Gatsby Many different colors play a large role in the development of characters, and underlying messages in The Great Gatsby. White, generally seen as a symbol of innocence, is used in the novel to represent what appears to be true on the surface, but is merely a facade. Yellow has many implications in The Great Gatsby, including the desire for wealth, noxious character traits, and death of the American Dream. Fitzgerald also uses green to represent feelings of envy, hope, and desire, and The color green is almost entirely centered on Gatsby himself, and it carries great significance in the novel. Fitzgerald uses numerous colors in The Great Gatsby to establish recurring motifs, applying them to many characters, situations, and places to give the story extraordinary depth. The appearances of white in the book are numerous. It is mainly seen through physical objects or descriptions in the text. For example, “They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house” (Fitzgerald 8). The story’s narrator, Nick Carraway, is describing two women named Daisy and Jordan. Nick is a cousin of Daisy’s, and a college friend of her husband Tom Buchanan. Nick has recently come to the town of West Egg, and is over at the Buchanan’s for dinner. There, he meets Jordan Baker, who is Daisy’s friend and also a competitive golfer. Fitzgerald has Daisy and Jordan described in white intentionally. It is meant to represent the shallow colorlessness with which they conduct their lives. They are both surrounded by white in the text to give them an image of innocence and purity. However, as the story progresses, we see their true colors. Daisy has an affair with Jay Gatsby. He became romantically involved with Daisy before leaving for World War I, and has gone to great lengths to win her back. She ultimately chooses Tom over him, hiding behind his wealth and the security of their life. Daisy even lets Gatsby take the fall for running over Tom’s mistress, even though she was the one driving. In comparison, it is revealed that Jordan Baker cheated to win her first golf tournament, and is continually dishonest. The white that Daisy and Jordan are both surrounded by is merely a façade intended to cover up their fickle personalities. Another color that bears great importance to The Great Gatsby is yellow. For instance, a Daisy has white petals on the outside, but its center is yellow. This is symbolic of Daisy’s character. She is surrounded by white to project an image of innocence, but eventually shows her yellowed personality by causing trouble. The color yellow is also seen surrounding death in the physical and metaphorical sense. Yellow shows the death of the American Dream because all of the immoral people are wealthy and successful. Even Gatsby acquired his fortune through illicit activities. Physically, yellow exemplified death when Myrtle, Tom’s mistress, was hit and killed by a car. “‘Auto hit her. Ins’antly killed’” (139). “‘It was a yellow car,’ he said, ‘big yellow car’” (139). When Daisy and Gatsby are leaving New York City, Daisy incidentally hits Myrtle with a yellow car. This represents both the death of Myrtle, and the death of Gatsby’s dream to be with Daisy. Because Gatsby takes the fall for the accident, Daisy retreats back to the safety and comfort of her life with Tom. Also, the incident was directly related to the death of Gatsby himself and suicide of Mr. Wilson, who is Myrtle’s husband. This event is what ties the color yellow to death in The Great Gatsby.
Lastly, Green plays a large role in the emotion and depth of the novel, symbolizing feelings of desire and