The Great Gatsby: Symbolism in Colors


Colors can symbolize many different things. Artists use colors in their
paintings when they want you to see what they are trying to express. Like if
an artist is trying to express sorrow or death he often uses blacks blues, and
grays basically he uses dreary colors. You automatically feel what the artist
is trying to express. When the artist uses bright colors you feel warm and you
feel happiness. In the novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald is like an
artist. He uses colors to symbolize the many different intangible ideas in the
book. He uses the color yellow to symbolize moral decay decadence and death.
Then he uses the color white to symbolize innocence. He also uses the color
green to express hope. Fitzgerald\'s use of the color green the strongest.
Although these are not the only colors that Fitzgerald uses for symbolism, they
are the ones that he expresses the most. This book is a very colorful book in
the sense that it uses colors to cover so many different aspects of peoples
lives.
Fitzgerald uses the color yellow to symbolize moral decay. On (Page 18)
he writes " The lamp-light, bright on his boots and dull on the autumn-leaf
yellow of her hair." He is talking about Tom and Jordan Baker, and he is
suggesting that tom might be heading for moral decay. In the book there are
several things that Tom does that might prove this. First of all Tom is having
an affair with Myrtle Wilson. A second thing is that he does not like Gatsby,
and several times he tries to prove that he is not who he says he is. Tom even
hires a detective to prove this. Gatsby had a Rolls Royce that was yellow "His
station wagon scampered like a yellow brisk-bug . . ." (Page 39). Gatsby\'s car
was referred to many times in the book, but it was always referred to as "The
yellow car" (Page 157).
The color yellow was used most frequently when there was a death. One
of the first things that Fitzgerald wrote about when Myrtle died was when they
laid her on a table in the garage. He wrote "The garage, which was lit only by
a yellow light in a swinging wire basket overhead" page . Wilson her husband
was in a dazed state, and kept referring to his car only as the "Yellow car"
(Page157) "That big yellow car" (Page141). That car led to Gatsby\'s demise.
Just before Gatsby was shot by Wilson, Gatsby decided he was going to take a
swim in his pool. He had not used it all summer. The chauffeur helped Gatsby
fill up a mattress he was going to use in the pool. "Gatsby shouldered the
mattress and started for the pool. Once he stopped and shifted it a little, and
the chauffeur asked him if he needed help, but he shook his head and in a moment
disappeared among the yellowing trees." Page (161-162) Perhaps another sign of
his demise.
Green is a very strong color in this book. It symbolizes hope. Gatsby
and Daisy had met for a short time before he went off to war. When he returned
he knew that Daisy had married Tom. He desperately wanted to get back together
with her. So much so that he bought a house where he could see Daisy\'s house
from his. Gatsby was able to pick out a green light at the end of her dock, and
often looked toward it. I feel that green was symbolized as the deepest feeling
in this book. Gatsby was so close to his dream of being with Daisy. He worked
hard to get where he was, but before he could achieve his dream his life was
ended.
Another color that was used frequently was white. It symbolized
innocence. (Page 75) Jordan Baker talks about Daisy, "She dressed in white and
drove a little white roadster . . ." I think what Fitzgerald is saying is that
when Daisy was younger she symbolized innocence. He also expressed that thought
when he says she had a white girlhood on (Page 20). He also talks about the
steps to Gatsby\'s house as being white. Maybe what he was saying was that on
the outside it looked innocent, but on the inside it was not.
Fitzgerald also uses many other colors such as silver, gray, pink,
lavender, brown and black to symbolize the many other feelings. In this book he
shows us how society uses colors to express our feelings. We use black