The Great Gatsby: Quotes Explained

Quotes Explained

Welcome to The Great Gatsby Quotes page prepared by our editorial team! Here you’ll find all the important quotations from The Great Gatsby explained.

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📑 The Great Gatsby: Important Quotes Explained

The Great Gatsby: Quote #1

“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you might come across four or five times in life.”

(The Great Gatsby, Chapter 3)

This scene tells us about Nick’s first impression of Gatsby. As it often is, the most important The Great Gatsby quotes are related to Gatsby himself, one way or another. This one is not an exception.

First of all, Nick’s words represent the very core feature of Gatsby, his acting talent. Mr. Gatsby is exceptionally charismatic and always tries to act like he is the most sophisticated and high-class aristocrat in the world. But we know it’s not true.

Therefore, this quote kind of sums up the image he wants everybody to see. The image is being slowly destroyed piece by piece as the story unfolds. Essentially, it is the role that he created with the help of Dan Cody.

The reason why Gatsby’s smile seems to be so appealing is that he puts his best features in it. Hope and his vast imaginations are the main ingredients. They help him to stay enthusiastic about this whole Daisy situation.

So it is about love. Gatsby hopes for the best and pictures their happy future together. And it creates this rare smile of his. It is almost like he passes on a piece of his inspiration to the person he smiles at.

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The Great Gatsby: Quote #2

“I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

(The Great Gatsby, Chapter 1)

It is one of the important quotations from The Great Gatsby, mainly because it highlights the status of women in the 1920s. Here, Daisy talks about her little daughter. Throughout the book, she doesn’t say too many sophisticated things, but this phrase has a deep meaning.

Daisy’s words are related to one of the novel’s themes: women’s role in society. Back then, being a smart woman meant that she could disobey men. And there were a few men who would like to have a wife like that.

So Daisy wants her daughter to be a quiet and pretty foolish girl so that she would be financially secure and protected by her future husband. However, there is another perspective on this quote.

It seems like it is not entirely about money. Daisy is forced to hide her intelligence under the pressure of social rules. Some scenes show off her witty comments. Nevertheless, she is miserable.

Daisy is bored with her life. So maybe by wishing her daughter to become a beautiful fool, she wants her to be happy. Sometimes, Daisy Buchanan pretends to be silly herself.

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This explanation might seem harsh and unfair, but it used to be reasonable in the past. Women were supposed to stay away from complicated stuff, including both side romances and intellectual fields.

The Great Gatsby: Quote #3

“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties, there isn’t any privacy.”

(The Great Gatsby, Chapter 3)

Even though it probably can’t make it to the topmost important quotations from The Great Gatsby, it deserves to be discussed. This brilliant but somewhat weird comment about parties comes from Jordan Baker.

She says it during one of the massive parties that Gatsby throws at his mansion every week. This quote highlights her personality. Being a flapper girl, Jordan shows that she is free to choose her environment, especially her company.

Despite looking contradicting, her words make sense. Small parties with only a few people may be quite demanding. It is no place for loneliness. Everyone is required to be involved in the discussions. Otherwise, it would be rude.

Moreover, there is no way to talk to someone privately. There is always a chance that someone overhears you. Everybody knows what is happening.

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Big parties are different. The guests can pick the group they find exciting and participate in any discussion they want. Also, there is no obligation to talk to everyone invited!

Therefore, you are more likely to have a private chat at a big party. No need to mention, it is not impossible to find a cozy place there. There is so much happening at the same time that no one pays any attention to the conversations of others.

The Great Gatsby: Quote #4

“Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!”

(The Great Gatsby, Chapter 6)

Here Gatsby and Nick are actually talking about Daisy. It can become one of the best The Great Gatsby quotes. The phrase might sound confusing when taken out of context, though.

In this scene, Nick is trying to talk some sense into his friend. Gatsby can never achieve his American Dream. He desires to be with Daisy, just like it was in the past.

Moreover, it appears that he wants Daisy to forget about the past few years, including her marriage. Gatsby expects her to erase the memories of the past feelings towards Tom and their shared experience.

But we all know that it is not possible. Things change, and people change as well. Nothing can ever become the same as it used to. Daisy used to love Gatsby, but it is all gone.

Gatsby seems to refuse to believe it. His words may sound motivational, but the only thing they make Nick feel is sadness. Gatsby is only yet to realize that his dream is impossible to achieve.

Only later his illusion cracks, and it becomes one of the most prominent moments in the novel. The main idea of the story is that the American Dream is unrealistic and unattainable.

The Great Gatsby: Quote #5

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.”

(The Great Gatsby, Chapter 9)

Some of The Great Gatsby’s quotes are extremely philosophical, just like this one. This phrase concludes the novel. Nick goes back to where it all started from the green light.

The way Gatsby was trying to reach the light on the other side of the bay is related to the past and our dreams. The words Nick uses can be understood as a metaphor.

People always try to recreate the past, thinking it would make them happier. But the longer they try to catch it, the further it gets. Time only goes in one direction – in the future.

The same with Gatsby. The green light represents his dream. He desires to recreate his past relationship with Daisy. But the laws of time are forced to remind him that it doesn’t work this way.

With each year Daisy spent with Tom, Gatsby’s precious dream would move farther from him. And the speed is growing exponentially. Even with all the enthusiasm he puts into this task, he can never reach the past.

Therefore, this quote becomes another connection to the unattainable American Dream. However, it is fair to note that Nick is not trying to seem cynical here. He respectfully sums up the life of Gatsby this way with a hint of melancholy.

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IvyPanda. "Quotes Explained." June 16, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/lit/the-great-gatsby-study-guide/quotes-explained/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Quotes Explained." June 16, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/lit/the-great-gatsby-study-guide/quotes-explained/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Quotes Explained'. 16 June.