Death Epitomizes American Dream, Society, and Time Essay

Our purpose is not entirely measured by the things we possess on earth, but it is the essence of living in peace, harmony, and truthfulness from the day we were born until our last day. This message has been the realization of F. Scott Fitzgerald, which is internalized in the life of Jay Gatz. The direction of Gatz is moving to the green light, which symbolizes his dreams to relive the past, back to the time when Daisy Buchanan loved him. Gatz reaches his dream for a short term through the help of Nick Carraway, but it ends with his death. This paper will discuss the significance of Gatsby’s death based on the three points: death of the American dream, death defines the decayed or rotten society, and death conveys the limitation of time. 

Hard work, success, and prosperity

Hard work, success, and prosperity symbolize the American dreams, which are grounded on their aim for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Gatz is presented as a man filled with spirit: aspiration, commitment, braveness, and faith. This is evident in his longing for Daisy when Gatsby stated that he seemed closer to Daisy similar to the distance of the star to the moon. He further exclaims his proximity to his dreams — the green light on a dock (Fitzgerald). Gatsby once believed that his dream is impossible to achieve because of his distance to Daisy, but he realizes that his hope and faith never vanish. The commitment of Gatsby to Daisy is apparent in the years that have passed. For five years, they were separated, which inspired Gatsby to accumulate wealth that could make her proud of. 

Fitzgerald wants to emphasize the authentic American dream, which is not adulterated by wealth. The only visible value in the life of Gatsby is the American spirit embedded in his heart through representing his love and commitment for Daisy. Nick ascertains in his observation that Gatsby possesses an exceptional quality that is hope in which he will never find in others (Fitzgerald). This represents the death of the American dream, which Fitzgerald aims to restore. He sees it as the authentic American dream that has a substance, which is far from the 1920’s projection that wealth is an answer in order to belong in the upper strata or to buy love and happiness. It is proven by Fitzgerald that wealth accomplishes nothing. Furthermore, Fitzgerald wants to retrieve the lost American dreams through the death of Gatsby. Its ending serves as a warning to Americans that when the 1920’s perspective continues, the American’s vitality or spirit is lost. We must stop deceiving ourselves that green will lead us to a valuable and significant future in order to restore the American spirit. 

The Decaying Society

The unhappy ending of The Great Gatsby symbolizes the decaying society. We all know that society comprises individuals or groups of people; hence, the rotten society is represented by the characters of Tom Buchanan and Daisy Buchanan, Myrtle and George Wilson, Jordan Baker, and Jay Gatz. Nick concludes the story represents the west because they are Americans that have common flaws that are not compatible with Eastern life (Fitzgerald). This line indicates the commonality in Westerners, which depicts lies, carelessness, inhuman, self-centered, hypocrite, and pretentious.

Jay Gatsby erases his past, and he is driven by his dream to accrue wealth through easy money or illegal activities. Furthermore, Gatsby deceives people in his family and educational background by telling that he comes from an affluent family in the middle-west and obtain his education in Oxford because of a family tradition (Fitzgerald). Fitzgerald points out the desire of Gatsby to be accepted in the higher strata, so he devises the story. 

Tom and Daisy Buchanan

Tom and Daisy Buchanan are the epitomai of selfish, inhuman, and careless human beings. Fitzgerald identified them as careless people — they break things and individuals, then easily escape with their money, and allowed other people to resolve their problem. Tom and Daisy symbolize the new American dream, which is only concerned for what they may gain without considering the feelings of other people. Fitzgerald also questions the morality of Tom and Daisy because of their extra-marital affairs with Myrtle and Gatsby. They have no conscience that is evident in their action after the death of Gatsby. Furthermore, they are both materialistic. The foundation of their marriage is grounded on the possession of wealth and power, which results in unhappiness, discontentment, and dissatisfaction. 

Myrtle and George

Myrtle and George are opposite characters because Myrtle is obsessed with money that represents Tome while George exhibits a man with hopeless dreams, which is the exact opposite of Gatsby. Myrtle is disillusioned that Tom loves her. Finally, Jordan is described as a beautiful woman, but Nick observes that she cheats to win her golf tournament. 

Furthermore, the characters are displayed as shallow. Nick asserts that confusion originates from a simple mind, which indicates that the characters judge without analyzing events (Fitzgerald 133). They instantly believe in what other people might say — not searching or clarifying for the truth. 

The Symbolism

Fitzgerald measures time through the symbolism of the season and clock. Time is an important aspect of the story because it deals with the past, present, and future. Nick figures out that Gatsby is desperately clinging to the image of Daisy. It seems that Gatsby is still living in the past because of his vivid imagination and freshness of his affair with Daisy because he believes that he can replay the past (Fitzgerald). Although Gatsby is living for the present, he has different visualization of the character of Daisy, which belongs in the past. Moreover, the future plan of Gatsby is centered on accumulating wealth to be accepted by the society wherein Daisy belongs. Unfortunately, his death indicates that we cannot stop time no matter how we tried to relive it. Even Fitzgerald understands the importance of time in his life, death strikes at our vulnerable state in which we do not know when our time will be. 


Fitzgerald concludes that we must move forward with our arms outstretched toward the future like boats fighting upstream against the current, looking forward to the future, but seeking to repeat the past. The death of Gatsby paves the way for realizations that materialistic culture leads to nowhere — only unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and purposeless. 

Work Cited 

  1. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.