The story was so compelling for Fitzgerald because it was one that he had lived firsthand when his love affair with Ginevra King broke up. Both Isabelle of "Babes in the Woods" and Helen of "The Debutante" are based on Ginevra King as is Rosalind in "This Side of Paradise". Fitzgerald recorded his love afair with Ginevra in his "Ledger," an informal diary that he kept of the major events in his life, all in a kind of cryptic shorthand.
In Fitzgerald's fiction the idealized woman becomes the object of romantic obsession. In The Great Gatsby the object of such attention is, of course, Daisy Fay. Nick says of Gatsby that "some idea of himself perhaps...had gone into loving Daisy" (111). When Gatsby loses Daisy, he loses a sense of self that leaves him "confused and disordered". If only he can regain Daisy, perhaps he could regain that sense of self.
The green light is probably one of the most important symbols in The Great Gatsby. Green is the color of hope and it first appears when Gatsby stares across the bay towards a green light at the end of a dock (21,8ff.). Later the reader finds out that this light stands on Daisy Buchanan’s dock. In the context of the novel this green light represents Gatsby’s hope to meet Daisy again and a chance to win her back. “Gatsby believed in the green light”(128, 26).
We are all blind in our own ways, not seeing what is right in front of us. Rarely do we see the big picture. The Great Gatsby contains characters that see as well as characters that are blind to the obvious. Nick gets the big picture, having observed everything from a slightly outside point of veiw. He seems to understand everything differently than the rest. He is friends with all the other characters, but is still very observant to their lifestyle. Owl Eyes is another character that sees things as they really are. He discovered that the books in Gatsby's library were "real." Other characters, like Gatsby, only see the past, or characters like Daisy and Jordan only see their own little world and are trapped in it. Its like a haze-they walk around in it because its comfortable, but they fail to realize what is going on outside their social circle, and often times they don't understand their own comfort zone. Daisy, along with everyone else, chooses to be blind to her husband's affair. This last theme is telling us not to shut things out because they are painful. We need to see the truth for what it is and not attempt to mask it.
Sometimes in life, people tend to focus on certain things so much that they miss out on the big picture. Gatsby does this when he becomes so infatuated with Daisy so much that he misses the fact that Daisy is not the perfect woman that he thinks she is. While Gatsby is so caught up on the chase, he misses that Daisy has flaws: promiscuity and dishonesty.
The term "coming of age" is analytical shorthand for a story (fiction, non-fiction, drama) in which a young character, innocent (at least to some degree) about the ways of the world comes to a more mature understanding of life, relationships and himself. A character in such a story emerges into a new wisdom, a new sensibility, and/or a new maturity. This is what happens to Nick Carraway, the narrator and protagonist of The Great Gatsby. As he himself says in his narration, he came out East (where the novel takes place) with ideas about who he wants to be and wants to relate to the world, particularly the world of finance and fashionable society. As the result of the people, relationships, and situations he encounters, however, he "comes of age"
For the first time in his wildly successful career, however, Gatsby aspires to obtain that which is unattainable, at least to the degree which he desires. As the novel unfolds, Gatsby seems to realize that his idea and pursuit of Daisy is more rewarding than the actual attainment of her. Gatsby recognizes that -- as he did with his own persona -- he has created an ideal for Daisy to live up to. Although Gatsby remains fully committed to his aspirations up until his death, he struggles with the reality of when those aspirations for his American Dream are either achieved or, in Gatsby's case, proven inaccessible. As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in 1924, while working on The Great Gatsby, "That's the whole burden of this novel -- the loss of those illusions that give such color to the world so that you don't care whether things are true or false as long as they partake of the magical glory"
The story of Gatsby brings to light "The American Dream". This was a very popular theme in the 1920's, when the novel was written. Gatsby chases this dream by attempting to obtain Daisy, just as people in this era chased their own dreams. In the book, Gatsby idealizes this dream so much that he would do anything to get it, just like many people in the 1920's chased their own dreams.
Because The Great Gatsby is set in the Roaring Twenties, the topic of the Great War is unavoidable. The war was crucial to Gatsby's development, providing a brief period of social mobility which, Fitzgerald claims, quickly closed after the war. Gatsby only came into contact with a classy young debutante like Daisy as a result of the fact that he was a soldier and that no one could vouch for whether he was upper-class or not. The war provided him with further opportunities to see the world, and make some money in the service of a millionaire. Gatsby's opportunities closed up after the end of the war, however, when he found upon returning to America that the social structure there was every bit as rigid as it was in Europe. Unable to convince anyone that he is truly upper-class (although his participation in the war gave him some leeway about lying), Gatsby finds himself unable to break into East Egg society.
Honesty is does not seem to determine which characters are sympathetic and which are not in this novel in quite the same way that it does in others. Nick is able to admire Gatsby despite his knowledge of the man's illegal dealings and bootlegging. Ironically, it is the corrupt Daisy who takes pause at Gatsby's sordid past. Her indignation at his "dishonesty," however, is less moral than class-based. Her sense of why Gatsby should not behave in an immoral manner is based on what she expects from members of her milieu, rather than what she believes to be intrinsically right. The standards for honesty and morality seem to be dependent on class and gender in this novel. Tom finds his wife's infidelity intolerable, however, he does not hesitate to lie to her about his own affair.
The Great Gatsby may be the most popular classic in modern American fiction. Since its publication in 1925, Fitzgerald's masterpiece has become a touchstone for generations of readers and writers, many of whom reread it every few years as a ritual of imaginative renewal. The story of Jay Gatsby's desperate quest to win back his first love reverberates with themes at once characteristically American and universally human, among them the importance of honesty, the temptations of wealth, and the struggle to escape the past.
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald associated this moment in American history – the Jazz Age – with materialism ("I want things! Lots of things!") and immorality. Materialism and immortality were the name of the game for many of the newly wealthy of the post-World War I era. The novel's star is Jay Gatsby, a young, rich man in love with a society girl from his past. A girl who, as it happens, is married to someone else.