The significance of color in "The Great Gatsby"

Term Paper, 2005

8 Pages


List of Contents

Term paper

The significance of color in “The Great Gatsby”

1. Introduction

2. Summary of the main actions
2.1 Chapter 1 – 3
2.2 Chapter 4 - 6
2.3 Chapter 7 – 9

3. Color in “The Great Gatsby”
3.1 Color as a stylistic device
3.2 Most frequently used colors
3.2.1 Yellow – modern moral decay
3.2.2 Green – hopes of the rich and famous
3.2.3 White – innocence of the guilty
3.2.4 Blue – dreaming of the future
3.2.5 Gray – lacking shades of blue

4. Literature
4.1 Primary Literature
4.2 Secondary Literature
4.3 Online Resources

1. Introduction

Artists use colors to show hidden intentions and traffic lights provoke a certain way of acting through their color. Colors symbolize various things in everyday live. One usually has an instinctive connection from colors to certain feelings or uses. In his novel “The Great Gatsby”, F. Scott Fitzgerald is an artist. He uses colors to communicate to the reader feelings and attitudes of the protagonists. With my term paper on Fitzgerald’s color symbolism in “The Great Gatsby” I want to show the different uses of colors and the way color influences a scene subliminal.

2. Summary of the main actions

2.1 Chapter 1 – 3

Classically, the opening scene of the novel reveals a great deal about the setting, the background and of course the main characters. In order of appearance, first, the reader is introduced to Nick Carraway, the first person narrator of the story. Tom and Daisy Buchanan are a wealthy couple living at the fashionable East Egg. Nick is related distantly to Daisy and therefore invited to a dinner party to their extravagant house. Also present at that dinner party is Jordan Baker a good friend of the couple, who is mainly a device to draw Nick into the plot as they get involved to a later point. During the dinner party it becomes obvious that Tom and Daisy have a troublesome marriage. Tom has a girlfriend in New York and it seems to be no secret. Nick gets to know Gatsby, because they have talked about him at the dinner party. In this way Gatsby is passively introduced by the author. In the following passage, Myrtle, Tom’s girlfriend is introduced. Her husband owns a garage in the valley of ashes. In New York Nick Carraway gets to know Myrtle and her sister Catherine. In chapter three Nick’s involvement with Gatsby starts as he notices his great parties at the other side of the lawn. He is invited by Gatsby personally to one of his parties. At the party he finds a wealthy, impersonal society. He meets Jordan Baker again and introduces himself to Gatsby. Before Nick leaves to go home there is a scene of an accident at the highly frequented driveway to Gatsby’s mansion. Following this scene, Fitzgerald fast forwards a couple of months and has Nick pondering about Jordan Baker.

2.2 Chapter 4 - 6

Chapter four starts with a long guest list of Gatsby’s famous parties, which Nick tags on their status as East Eggers or West Eggers. Nick is on a drive with Gatsby and starts to find out more details about his life. Throughout the chapter Nick stays uncertain about the purpose of their excursion. After lunch Gatsby disappears mysteriously. Fitzgerald switches to a narration by Jordan Baker about her youth. She remembers a romantic connection between Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. It turns out that Gatsby likes to meet Daisy at Nick’s house. Their meeting happens in chapter five, with an awfully nervous Gatsby. After tea at Nick’s house they leave for Gatsby’s mansion. In the following Gatsby’s past is revealed and afterwards Nick Carraway continues with the current situation. Nick and Daisy both attend the next party at Gatsby’s and a distinctive tension between Gatsby and Nick is described. They finally get into an argument about Daisy’s and Gatsby’s romance five years ago. It becomes clear that Gatsby wants to prove to Nick, that he was Daisy’s true love and she only married him because he had more money at the time. It is obvious how Gatsby lives entirely in the past and wants things to be as they were.

2.3 Chapter 7 – 9

During a lunch gathering at the Buchanan’s house the group of Nick and Jordan, who got involved with each other, Gatsby and the Buchanans decide to go into town for the evening. On the way Tom stops at the Garage of Myrtle’s husband for gasoline and finds out, that he knows about them having an affair. He is stunned by this revelation and gets ill when thinking about losing his girlfriend. In town he gets into a pointless argument with Daisy and ironically accuses Gatsby of having an affair with Daisy and attempting to break up his marriage. As reply Gatsby speaks out that Daisy has always loved him and married Tom only for the money. Daisy goes between them and states she loves both of them. Daisy changes her mind of leaving Tom, when he tells her that Gatsby made his money with bootlegging. Confidently, Tom sends her home in Gatsby’s car. When they pass Myrtle’s garage she mistakes them for Tom and runs out on the street where she is killed. The car races away. Tom follows some miles behind and finds Myrtle dead. She was hit by a car which is reported to have had the same color as Gatsby’s. When Tom arrives at home he finds Gatsby and tells him about Myrtle being dead. Although they both know Daisy was driving the car, Gatsby protects her and claims he drove that night. In the night of the accident Gatsby returns home late after he assured himself Tom does not hurt Daisy in the cause of the events. When Nick comes over to Gatsby he starts to loose himself again in memories how he met Daisy. The following day Wilson finds out that it was Gatsby’s car that killed his wife and decides to kill Gatsby, who he believes drove the car. After the murder he commits suicide since he can’t stand the pressure. In the final chapter Gatsby’s funeral is described. The reader learns how the funeral is only attended by one former party guest and his father, with whom Gatsby had broken up contact years ago. As a cause of the tragic circumstances of Gatsby, Nick decides to move back to the Middle East.


Excerpt out of 8 pages


The significance of color in "The Great Gatsby"
University of Erfurt
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
552 KB
Great, Gatsby, Modernism
Quote paper
Sabine Reich (Author), 2005, The significance of color in "The Great Gatsby", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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