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What Does The Great Gatsby’s Ending Mean?

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By leaving his readers with an empty feeling, Fitzgerald communicates several messages. First of all, he shows Gatsby’s disappointment with the American dream. Second, it shows Fitzgerald’s reflection over the Interbellum. Finally, the author invites his readers to discuss the personal perception of their past and future.

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The Great Gatsby was written by the classical writer of the so-called lost generation – Francis Scott Fitzgerald. The story is told from the perspective of Nick Carraway. Once, he meets Jay Gatsby – a millionaire and a host of wild parties at his home. Nick also gets to know a high-class couple, Daisy and Tom Buchanan. It turns out that Daisy was initially a love of Gatsby’s who aimed to win her back. An affair takes place, and Tom spots the two of them together.

Daisy drives Gatsby back home after choosing her husband and runs over Tom’s mistress. Gatsby takes the blame and is killed by the victim’s husband. The final scene is the following. After Gatsby’s death, Nick stands at the lake of his mansion. He is staring across the bay at the green light that comes from the end of Buchanan’s dock. Fitzgerald finishes with the phrase: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” This sentence is claimed to be one of the greatest endings in the history of American literature.

So, the novel is frequently seen as a critique of the American dream. This concept is based on the understanding that anyone can reach their goal with hard work and a bit of luck. Hence, the U.S. here is the land of opportunities to apply one’s skills and knowledge.

As you may already guess, Jay Gatsby’s biography tells the ideal story of the American dream. Fitzgerald lets his readers know that Gatsby can afford his enormous wild parties for a reason. He runs a profitable but illegal business. According to the American dream, if there is hard work, there is a goal. In this case, it is Daisy Buchanan. The ending Fitzgerald leaves his readers to understand that Gatsby’s life race for the American dream was vain.

Another aspect highlights that Fitzgerald belongs to the so-called lost generation in literature history. This notion includes a whole row of poets and writers like Ernest Hemingway or Wolfred Owen, for instance. Decadence is one of the main themes of this movement. So, The Great Gatsby ending fulfills the novel’s readers with the feeling of emptiness. It shows the frivolous lifestyle that all the rich have. You might guess that this is what people who went through a war feel: they fight, kill others, and risk their lives for abstract goals.

Finally, Fitzgerald points out quite a common human trait. People tend to idealize their past. That is what Gatsby did with his memories of Daisy. He cannot see her the way she is, and her actions disappoint him. As Fitzgerald explains it, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eludes us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms farther… And one fine morning – so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”.

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"What Does The Great Gatsby's Ending Mean?" IvyPanda, 23 Oct. 2020, ivypanda.com/q/what-does-the-great-gatsbys-ending-mean/.

1. IvyPanda. "What Does The Great Gatsby's Ending Mean?" October 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-does-the-great-gatsbys-ending-mean/.


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IvyPanda. "What Does The Great Gatsby's Ending Mean?" October 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-does-the-great-gatsbys-ending-mean/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "What Does The Great Gatsby's Ending Mean?" October 23, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-does-the-great-gatsbys-ending-mean/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'What Does The Great Gatsby's Ending Mean'. 23 October.

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