The Great Gatsby Has Various Scenes Where Water Is Used as a Symbol

Throughout works of literature water can represent different ideas from the washing of sins to cleansing and purity. The characteristics of water are used to define different moods, from calm sprinkling to unsettling thunderstorms. In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald water appears at various times and moves as a progression, from separation, and uncertainty, to purification. For more than five years Gatsby has fantasized and ached for the day where he and Daisy could meet again. At the end of the very first chapter Gatsby: “stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way… I glanced seaward — and distinguished nothing except a single green light”.

At this moment Gatsby and Daisy are separated physically and by their socio-economic class. The Sound acts as a physical barrier that forces both, Daisy and Gatsby to remain on their side of the body of water. This body of water also separates them by their wealth and class status.

For example, Gatsby and Daisy’s neighborhoods are drastically different.

East Egg, where Tom and Daisy are located are both from older money which means they are on top of the social pyramid. On the other hand, Nick and Gatsby are located in West Egg and is where new money is placed. The people who are considered “new money” will never be treated or respected as people from East Egg are because they are not as respected and do not have the correct etiquette that the others do. In this scene, the water acts as a roadblock and impedes something to happen between Daisy and Gatsby.

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In this part of The Great Gatsby water, specifically rain mirrors the feelings of Gatsby. At last, Gatsby gets to meet the women that he changed from rags to riches for. Acting like an awkward teenage boy, Gatsby runs around the back of the house to knock on the front door after Daisy arrives. Nick then describes Gatsby with “his hands plunged like weights in his coat pockets, was standing in a puddle of water glaring tragically into my eyes”.

The way that the rain is surrounding Gatsby is another instance of when water is separating Gatsby from meeting Daisy. The importance of the water in this scene reveals the levels of doubtfulness in Gatsby’s mind and feelings. Later on in the same meeting, the mood has shifted from being uncomfortable to being splendid. “That there twinkle-bells of sunshine in the room… ‘What do you think of that? It stopped raining’”. There is a shift of moods from when Gatsby and Daisy first saw each other to right now.  As the sunshine goes into the room they both fall into their old habit of laughing and being comfortable with one another.

In various religions, water is used as a sign purification and the cleansing of sins. In The Great Gatsby there are various scenes when water is used as that symbol. The end of chapter eight, Nick, the chauffeur, butler, and gardener are rushing after hearing gunshots and see “little ripples that were hardly the shadows of waves, the laden mattress moved irregularly down the pool… The touch of cluster of leaves revolved it slowly, tracing, like the leg of transit, a thin red circle in the water”. There is a description of how Gatsby was lying on the mattress and lied thinking about a single dream. One can only imagine that he was dreaming of the fantasy and idealization that he created of Daisy.

It seems that Gatsby died peacefully and in purifications involved with water they are supposed to give the person peace and a sense of renewal. Throughout the whole work of literature there is no mention of any other of Gatsby’s relatives, except for Gatsby’s father. When Nick first meets Mr. Gatz, he “opened the door and came out, his mouth ajar, his face flushed slightly, his eyes leaking isolated and unpunctual tears. He had reached an age where death no longer has the quality of ghastly surprise”. The way that Nick describes Mr. Gatz tears as “unpunctual” implies that he did not think that he was going to cry. The end of Gatsby life is surrounded by a “think drizzle” of rain throughout the day of his funeral. The water seems to symbolize that Gatsby is finally fulfilled with his life and is ready for whatever the after life might have in mind or the rain might symbolize the typical gloomy and sad atmosphere which would also fit with the way the work of art was written.

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The Great Gatsby Has Various Scenes Where Water Is Used as a Symbol. (2023, Feb 23). Retrieved from

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