Foreshadowing is a powerful literary device that Fitzgerald used to keep the reader intrigued! At the end of chapter 1, Nick sees Gatsby standing at the shore, trembling. He was stretching out his arms and into the distance towards a green light. But eventually, Gatsby disappears into the “unquiet darkness.” That moment predicts his inability to attain his greatest desires and his eventual demise in death.
“He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way.” It is how the piece with the element of foreshadowing begins. Nick continues and says that he “distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away.” He thought it might have been someone’s dock. And a moment later, a mysterious figure of Jay Gatsby disappeared.
At this moment in the novel, Nick has not yet met Gatsby. He is not aware of his character and ambitions. However, this scene presents significant symbolism and predicts some things to come. The green light is actually a physical structure at the end of the dock. It belongs to Tom and Daisy, living across the waterway. Gatsby later mentions to Daisy, “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay,” said Gatsby. “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.”
As we find out, Gatsby is in love with Daisy, and the light serves as a beacon of hope of sorts. When he reaches out towards the water, it is a sign of desperation for a love that he had lost. At the same time, it highlights that there will not be happily ever after for the two of them. When Gatsby disappears into the darkness, it is a foreshadowing of his death. He has never reached that light or hope of being with the love of his life.