The Great Gatsby - Symbolism for Character Development of Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan

Essay by ranoHigh School, 11th gradeA+, July 2004

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a novel based on symbolism. Symbols throughout the novel aid in the development of all the characters, in particular Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan. Three major symbols assist in those characters' development: the car symbolizes wealth, power of the upper class, and chasing dreams; the consumption of alcohol symbolizes revealing the truth; and New York City represents freedom to do what one pleases, not bound by the views of East or West Egg. The development of the characters Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan is shaped by these symbols throughout the novel.

Cars - the symbol of wealth, power and dreams - appear almost everywhere in the novel and show a lot about the owner's character. Gatsby owns "a rich cream colour" (Fitzgerald, 63) Rolls Royce with green leather. This expensive car shows that Gatsby's life is heavily based on materialism which he believes is necessary for his dream to come true.

Symbolically, the car represents Gatsby's dream of being with Daisy. The golden colour symbolizes the wealth he had attained to win her and the green colour symbolizes the hope he has for her. The fact that Gatsby prefers to drive his own car everywhere, rather than being chauffeured as other upper class people do, shows his trait of being able to take hold of his dreams and make them come true. Tom promises George Wilson a car, and uses that promise to control him. Tom uses his power and wealth that the car represents to dominate over Wilson who is in desperate need of it. Whenever Wilson says something that displeases Tom, Tom threatens to not give him the car:

" 'Works pretty slow, don't he?' (said Wilson) 'No, he doesn't,' said Tom coldly. 'And if you fell that way...