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And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter – to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther...and one fine morning– (9.149)
If there's anything more American than apple pie, it's the belief in self-improvement: that we're all capable of achieving our dreams, if we just hope and work hard enough. Unfortunately for Gatsby, that dream ends in tragedy.
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." (1.1-3)
It's a lot easier to be morally upright when you're not pinching and scraping to make a living… which makes the immorality of the wealthy even more unforgivable. Every advantage in the world, and they can't even be nice people? Nick may forgive them, but we're not sure we do.
Why they came East I don't know. They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together. (1. 17)
Okay, hilarious. Isn't playing polo basically the definition of "being rich together"?