But Daisy can see right through them

But Daisy can see right through them. She knows that he wasn’t born rich and she knows that those are only things gathered along the years. Gatsby however is so deep in the thought that he finally got Daisy back, that he fails to realize that even though she is impressed, she could never accept him, as rich girls don’t marry poor boys.
Daisy is amazed with his accomplishment over the years and Gatsby does not know what to do next to surprise her: ”My house looks well, doesn’t it… See how the whole front of it catches the light… It took me years to earn the money that bought it.” (Fitzgerald 105). Gatsby wants to show her so many things, that he does not know where to start and he becomes ridiculous. He starts showing her his shirts. This would seem quite pathetic to an ordinary man, but the shirts have more meaning than one would think. Each one is different, ”sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel…shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple green…” (Fitzgerald 107) and each one represents all the different things that Gatsby is prepared to offer Daisy to persuade her to come back. Daisy starts crying and to Gatsby it might seem like she is convinced of his upper-class status, but not to the readers. Daisy was not crying because of the sight of all the beautiful shirts. She was crying, because she knew that even though he had tried so hard, he could never take her back. To her, those weren’t real shirts and that wasn’t the real Gatsby. They were all bought, found or gathered from somewhere or another, including him. His character had no value, just like the shirts, even though expensive, had no real value. They were all just for show. The shirts didn’t have character, as the one who wore them had no character. They were all a bunch of authentic lies.
In many different ways, Gatsby tries to be someone else, someone that he himself can’t even recognize. The house is part of his whole unrealistic, self-created image, as even Daisy points out by saying that, ”I don’t see how you live there all alone.” (Fitzgerald 105). Gatsby might seem rich and aristocratic on the outside, but he is as empty of value and character inside, like the books he keeps in his library, books he never opened, books that are just for show, “Absolutely real-have pages and everything. I thought they’d be a nice durable cardboard. Matter of fact, they’re absolutely real. Pages and Here! Lemme show you… But what dou you expect?” (Fitzgerald 61-62). Yes, the question is ”What do you expect?” indeed. How can one expect a person that has no past and no real history to have a character? Where would it have developed? When and how? A person that comes from nothing has nothing as his character. All his riches and luxuries are not what they seem. They are not a sign that he is better off now. On the contrary, they symbolize shallowness that Gatsby is falling prey to. They represent the things that are pulling him down in his struggle to reach ”up.”
From the extreme of glitter and gold, to the one of grayness, ashes and dirt, with Gatsby in between, the story marches on. The novel describes the society at the top of the social scale, through the middle, into the struggling classes, to beyond the scale, off the face of the earth, engulfed in the power of the rich, ”ash gray men.” Myrtle and Wilson are symbols of the men and women of that particular class of society. They live far from the ”La Vie en Rose” where everything is bright, sunny and happy. They live into the forgotten ”Valley of Ashes.” ”A desolate area of land” represents their whole life, with its customs, daily chores and worldly activities. (Fitzgerald 39). Everything from men, cars, and buildings to life, is portrayed as gray. Usually gray is a neutral colour between white and black, but in this case, gray represents depression, misery and desperation that grows ”like wheat” with every day that passes, with every hour on the watch, with every blink of a gray tired eye. In this case the ”Valley of Ashes” represents the hungry starving, the needy lusting and the dead dying. It is the worse it could get, the lowest a person can go, the unhappiest and most ungraceful side of life. Furthermore, the ones who have it all are the ones who don’t even know the existence of the other side.
Once again, as it was present in the first category of people described, the car is also a symbol of the poor. While for Tom Buchanan, it wasn’t anything but another object to taunt the less fortunate with, the car represents a whole lifetime of work and struggles for George Wilson. He understands that the rich use the poor to their advantage, but he is naive enough to believe that Tom Buchanan is different and is going to sell him the car promised at some point in time. After a lengthy period of waiting, he finally raises the courage to ask Tom, ”When are you going to sell me that car?” (Fitzgerald 41) Tom does not realize that Wilson’s entire life depends on that car. For Tom, it is a mode of transportation, while Wilson’s survival depends on having that car repairs. ”GEORGE B. WILSON. Cars Bought and Sold” (Fitzgerald 40). For Tom, the car is just an object of which he can dispense easily. For Wilson, it is the equivalent of money, survival and life. We observe this when, tired of waiting and in desperate need of money, Wilson confronts Tom by saying that he needs ”money pretty bad and I was wondering what you were going to do with your old car…” (Fitzgerald 137). Even if Tom Buchanan did realize in the end how important that piece of metal was to Wilson, it would be too late, as Wilson chooses life in death rather than living in the “Valley of Ashes.”
Myrtle Wilson thought she was better off going to New York with her lover, cheating on her ”stupid” husband, who didn’t even know he was alive and treating herself in apartments, at expensive hotels, wearing dresses she would never afford on her own and buying dogs that would be of no use in the ”Valley of Ashes.” Myrtle is a totally different person when she leaves the ”desolate area of land.” As soon as she reaches New York, she becomes one of the rich. She loves being treated well so much that she even starts to believe all the lies she has to tell to conceive her real background. When faced with the compliment of ”I like your dress…I think it’s adorable.” (Fitzgerald 47). She is totally hypocritical and acts like she was born into that certain society, grew up surrounded by money and fortune: ”It’s just a crazy old thing…I slip it on sometimes when I don’t care what I look like.” (Fitzgerald 47). Otherwise, Myrtle’s words could be interpreted as whenever she puts on the dress she is a different person, with different values and different conceptions of life, yet same background and same miserable life to go back to once she leaves the hotel room. The dress is a symbol of how money and the feeling of being spoiled metamorphoses even the most ordinary person into a ”high-ranked” one. However, no matter how many elegant dresses, luxurious hotel rooms or little puppies money can buy, happiness cannot and will not be bought at any price.
Money does make a difference in life, but that feeling cannot last forever. The more money one has, the more they want until a person becomes enslaved to money, becomes controlled by it, ruled and commanded. The dog collar found in Myrtle’s drawer has a multitude of meanings. On a literally level, it represents Myrtle’s affair, her hunger for money, and Wilson’s unfortunate demise in the end. If looked at metaphorically, the collar represents the power of the rich over the miserable unfortunate others. Tom was controlling not only Myrtle, but also Wilson and everybody else that was not at the same level of life as him. The diamonds in the collar represent the people that were oppressed under Tom, people that he controlled, people that he thought he could buy and sell like little dogs on the street: ”Here’s your money. Go buy ten more dogs with it.” (Fitzgerald 44).
Symbolism is used in many different ways in Fitzgerald’s work, The Great Gatsby. If one were to try and explain the significance of each word, object or action, an entire book would undoubtedly result. For this reason, this essay focused on a certain aspect of symbolism only. The way the author portrays the different classes of society using symbolism is remarkable and must be commented on. Fitzgerald manages to portray the rosy rich, the dreary dreamers and the dying dead all in one magnificent masterpiece called The Great Gatsby. Symbolism is present in this novel at the turn of every page, however it is up to the reader to understand the characters in such a way as to be able to decipher every single pun, joke or reference, instantly.
If the reader wants to tell apart the truth from lies, he would have to analyze every word carefully and associate them with the type of characters. In doing so, one would realize that the rich, the poor and the middle-class, are all based on a lot of lies and a very little truth. Then how does one know how to analyze life if one cannot distinguish the truth from the lie? The answer is simple: One must learn how to distinguish truth, avoid the deceptive nature of lies and make those ”truths”useful to the world in which one lives.