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The Great Gatsby The Color White: Symbol Of Tarnish?

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The Color White: Tainted?

The color white is oftentimes unanimously associated with purity, hope, and innocence. However, in the Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the color has the deeper meaning of false purity over goodness. With the taboo characteristics that Fitzgerald's white carries, the reader is led to a false sense of security throughout the course of the novel; just how far was this rebel of a writer willing to go to break down borders? It is later found out that the symbol of white very much plays into the ironic theme of illusion versus reality. The characters in the novel are not the only ones dumbfounded at the confusion of life; things are not in the norm anymore, and Fitzgerald's new use of the color white further exemplifies the confusion of illusion versus reality amongst people during the American modernistic period.

The two leading female characters in the novel, Daisy and Jordan, are usually seen in white. In addition, Gatsby, when he wanted to meet Daisy again for the first time in five years, wore a white suit as if to show that he was good and pure, when in reality he was not. Daisy's character is enhanced by Fitzgerald's use of the color white to indicate Daisy's freshness and innocence. He notes the gleaming white house, the airy, white rooms, and Daisy lounging in a white dress. Fitzgerald evokes two meanings of white: one is the traditional meaning of purity; the second is the empowerment of whiteness. Daisy, as she is initially presented, represents both privilege and purity--a kind of princess figure. The use of white helps to characterize her as the enchanted princess who becomes incarnate as Gatsby's dream. However, the different shades of white indicate that Daisy may not be an embodiment of purity and that privilege may have a corrupting effect, at least when it is used to veil or whitewash misdeeds. This example corresponds precisely to the presentation of Daisy's character through color symbolism.

This color symbolizes one thing: a faÐ*ade, but it appears in every character. For example, Daisy is always seen wearing white, which gives her and innocent naive appearance. It is as though she uses that as an excuse for when she does something ridiculous or childish, making it seem like she does not know any better. In reality, she knows exactly what she does but just does not care. She uses this "princess" image and her money to hide her biased, snobbish, and conceited view of herself and her lifestyle. As from the text, "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together" (187-188), which further portrays Daisy as a character who does not fit the role of "white" in the novel; she is an anti-heroine of sorts.

Another character that hides behind the white symbolic veneer is Jordan Baker, who happens to wear white ala Daisy. She acts as though she is superior to everyone around her; posture, attitude, and even the things she says imply this arrogance: "She was extended full length at her end of the divan, completely motionless and with her chin raised a little as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall. If she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it-indeed I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbed her by coming in" (13). She portrays a bored and apathetic attitude about everything, which is part of her "exalted" appearance. In reality, she just wants to be as respected and socially accepted like Gatsby. She is not willing to take responsibility for her actions and uses her



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