The Great Gatsby's American Dream - Key Quotes

Just a few quotes and notes on the theme of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby.

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Quotes by Chapter
Chapter One
"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one...just remember that all the
people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." ­ Here,
Fitzgerald acknowledges that there is an element of privilege and some people been born
with more advantages, which contrasts with the idea of the American dream ­ anyone from
any background has the ability to have success.
"what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed
out my interest in the abortive sorrows and shortwinded elations of men." ­
It was the result of Gatsby's dreams that worked against him.
"In two weeks it'll be the longest day in the year... Do you always watch for
the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest
day in the year and then miss it." If you are always wanting for something, you will
never notice what you already have.
"nothing except a single green light, minute and far away." ­ No matter how
small or unlikely the dream may be, it completely consumes people.
Chapter Two
"Neither of them can stand the person their married to" ­ Even though Tom and
Daisy are meant to have `made it', they aren't happy. So achieving the American Dream
doesn't guarantee happiness.
"You can't live forever, you can't live forever" ­ Myrtle gives this as the only
rationale for her affair with Tom. She could mean that her affair is her taking advantage of the
only opportunity she may ever have to live the American Dream.
Chapter Three
"On weekends his Rolls Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and
from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his
station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains. And on
Mondays eight servants, including an extra gardener, toiled all day with
mops and scrubbingbrushes and hammers and gardenshears, repairing the
ravages of the night before." ­ Suggests that perhaps the American Dream is only
achievable with other's help and sacrifice and, considering the livelihoods of the servants
who have to work so hard, it is only an illusion.
Chapter Four
"A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: `There
are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.'" ­ Whether
pursuing or having achieved a dream, one may never be truly happy.
Chapter Five
"He revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response
it drew from her wellloved eyes." ­ For Gatsby, his love for material things and his
love for Daisy were connected ­ he bought things to impress her and therefore her approval
would increase an objects value. However his dream for materialistic gain and for Daisy were
both idealistic.
"There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled
short of his dreams--not through her own fault, but because of the colossal
vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had
thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time,
decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of

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­ Gatsby's dream was so unrealistic that nothing or nobody could live up to it.
"Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been
obstinate about being peasantry." ­ Fitzgerald could be saying that Americans aren't
happy remaining at the bottom of the social hierarchy.
Chapter Six
"She was appalled by West Egg...by its raw vigor that chafed...and by the
too obtrusive fate that herded its inhabitants along a short-cut from nothing
to nothing.…read more

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He continues
to pursue the ideal happiness that previously eluded him against the odds. But in the end,
his life will still be stuck in the past as he holds onto that pastoral view of the world that
helped him initially set the goals of happiness.
"And as I sat there, brooding on the old, unknown world, I
thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out Daisy's light
at the end of his dock.…read more

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