The Great Gatsby

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The Green Light and the Color Green Symbol Analysis

The Green Light and the Color Green Symbol Icon
The green light at the end of Daisy's dock is the symbol of Gatsby's hopes and dreams. It represents everything that haunts and beckons Gatsby: the physical and emotional distance between him and Daisy, the gap between the past and the present, the promises of the future, and the powerful lure of that other green stuff he craves—money. In fact, the color green pops up everywhere in The Great Gatsby. Long Island sound is "green"; George Wilson's haggard tired face is "green" in the sunlight; Michaelis describes the car that kills Myrtle Wilson as "light green" (though it's yellow); Gatsby's perfect lawn is green; and the New World that Nick imagines Dutch explorers first stumbling upon is a "fresh, green breast." The symbolism of green throughout the novel is as variable and contradictory as the many definitions of "green" and the many uses of money—"new," "natural," "innocent," "naive," and "uncorrupted"; but also "rotten," "gullible," "nauseous," and "sickly."
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The Green Light and the Color Green Symbol Timeline in The Great Gatsby

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Green Light and the Color Green appears in The Great Gatsby. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The American Dream Theme Icon
...far side of the water. Nick looks across the water and sees only a tiny green light blinking at the end of a dock. (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
...the magnificent house would impress her and win back her love. Nick realizes that the green light he saw Gatsby gazing at sits at the end of Daisy's dock. Finally, Jordan... (full context)
Chapter 5
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
...tour of his mansion. In Gatsby's bedroom, as he tells Daisy about staring at the green light on her dock. Daisy breaks down crying while looking through Gatsby's vast collection of... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
...that mist on the bay blocks his view of Daisy's house and the single blinking green light on its dock. (full context)
Chapter 7
The American Dream Theme Icon
...where she was struck and killed by a passing car that may have been light green. (full context)
Chapter 9
The American Dream Theme Icon
...He wonders how the first settlers to America must have felt staring out at the "green breast" of the new continent, and imagines Gatsby's similar wonder when he realized that tiny... (full context)