The Great Gatsby
Visions of America Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Meyer Wolfsheim? No, he's a gambler." Gatsby hesitated, then added coolly: "He's the man who fixed the World's Series back in 1919."
"Fixed the World's Series?" I repeated. […] "Why isn't he in jail?"
"They can't get him, old sport. He's a smart man." (112-118)
This New America may not have room for pure-hearted dreamers like Gatsby, but it certainly does have room for corrupt, smarty-pants criminals like Meyer Wolfsheim.
He was balancing himself on the dashboard of his car with that resourcefulness of movement that is so peculiarly American—that comes, I suppose, with the absence of lifting work or rigid sitting in youth and, even more, with the formless grace of our nervous, sporadic games. This quality was continually breaking through his punctilious manner in the shape of restlessness.
He was never quite still; there was always a tapping foot somewhere or the impatient opening and closing of a hand. (4.12-13)
Gatsby is one version of America—the resourceful, athletic, restless young nation striving to make itself better. The problem is, America as Nick sees it isn't like that anymore. It's beaten down, like George Wilson; or it's rich and careless, like Tom. Does that make Nick the happy (or unhappy) medium?
"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." Daisy put her arm through his abruptly, but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said. Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one. (5.121-122)
When Gatsby and Daisy finally get together, the dream vanishes. Does this mean that the American Dream has to stay forever a dream? That it loses its meaning if we actually achieve it—or that, once we achieve it, we find out that it wasn't so great to begin with?