The Great Gatsby

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Gatsby's Mansion Symbol Analysis

Gatsby's Mansion Symbol Icon
Gatsby's mansion symbolizes two broader themes of the novel. First, it represents the grandness and emptiness of the 1920s boom: Gatsby justifies living in it all alone by filling the house weekly with "celebrated people." Second, the house is the physical symbol of Gatsby's love for Daisy. Gatsby used his "new money" to create a place that he thought rivaled the houses of the "old money" that had taken her away.

Gatsby's Mansion Quotes in The Great Gatsby

The The Great Gatsby quotes below all refer to the symbol of Gatsby's Mansion. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of The Great Gatsby published in 2004.
Chapter 5 Quotes
"It makes me sad because I've never seen such — such beautiful shirts before."
Related Characters: Daisy Buchanan (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Related Symbols: Gatsby's Mansion
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

On her tour of Gatsby’s home, Daisy becomes distraught. Though the nature of her response is not entirely clear, it is induced by observing the extent of his new wealth.

The comment speaks first and foremost to Daisy’s superficiality. Her emotional response is not triggered by anything personally significant but rather by “beautiful shirts.” Yet these shirts also represent her newfound ability to be with Gatsby, for his current wealth would have made him acceptable to her overbearing family. Thus Daisy must accept that her choice to be with Tom was not necessary as she had thought it to be—and that she could have had both Gatsby and economic security. The text poses the question, however, of how aware Daisy is of her own attraction to money. Perhaps the breakdown, in fact, represents a personal crisis, in which Daisy confronts her own superficiality: She would become, then, neither a staid example of old money, nor a new money aspirant—but rather someone who reckons with the emptiness of both pursuits.

Fitzgerald’s ambiguous presentation of her character speaks to the difficulty of understanding, at this time, how Americans were relating to their roaring twenties culture. Though readers may have a good sense of our protagonist Nick’s shifting perspectives, the other characters are often inscrutable both to readers and to each other. Fitzgerald, then, not only describes an ambivalence toward the culture that many may have felt but been unable to articulate, but also recreates the effect through his narrative construction.

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Chapter 6 Quotes
"I wouldn't ask too much of her," I ventured. "You can't repeat the past."
"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
Related Characters: Jay Gatsby (speaker), Nick Carraway (speaker), Daisy Buchanan
Related Symbols: Gatsby's Mansion
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

Nick and Gatsby have this conversation after a failed party in which Gatsby tries to recreate his romance with Daisy. They disagree, pivotally, on whether it will be possible for Gatsby and Daisy to reignite their relationship.

On a literal level, Nick is simply saying that Gatsby cannot “repeat” his liaisons with Daisy, whereas Gatsby claims that he will in fact be able to do so. Yet their divergent viewpoints speak far more broadly to two ideological positions held by Americans at the time. Gatsby is fundamentally future-oriented as a “new money” person: he believes that anything can be accomplished through an act of will, as in the way he became rich. Whereas Nick, as a representative of “old money,” is more focused on the limits of the past and more sensitive to the flaws in Gatsby’s "nouveau riche" thinking.

We can see this more critical position in his description of Gatsby’s look: it is “wild” and falsely equates time with space—assuming that he can discover “the past” in the physical richness of “his house.” Gatsby thus represents a more narrow-minded viewpoint that energy and money will be able to turn back time and manifest any desire. While Nick has certainly lauded that personal drive, he disagrees here on the feasibility of the project.

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Gatsby's Mansion Symbol Timeline in The Great Gatsby

The timeline below shows where the symbol Gatsby's Mansion appears in The Great Gatsby. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
Every Saturday night, Gatsby throws incredibly luxurious parties at his mansion. Nick eventually receives an invitation. At the party, he feels out of place, and notes... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
Past and Future Theme Icon
...Park. She says Gatsby never fell out of love with Daisy and bought his giant mansion in West Egg to be across the bay from her. He had hoped that the... (full context)
Chapter 5
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
...he returns they are blissfully happy. Gatsby then takes them on a tour of his mansion. In Gatsby's bedroom, as he tells Daisy about staring at the green light on her... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
...Gatsby's relationship with Myrtle and Wilson swirl, and reporters and other gossips prowl around the mansion looking for stories. (full context)
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Past and Future Theme Icon
...telegram arrives from his father, Henry C. Gatz. Mr. Gatz arrives in person at Gatsby's mansion a few days later. He appears old, dressed in cheap clothing, and is devastated by... (full context)