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The Great Gatsby | Quotes

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1.

Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that ... [everyone hasn't] had the advantages that you've had.


Mr. Carraway, Chapter 1

In the opening of the novel, Nick recalls this advice from his father and says that it causes him to reserve judgment on people and to be open to those who want to share their thoughts. This establishes Nick as a fair and moral narrator. It also defines the divide between the rich and poor in the novel: a reminder that wealth and opportunity aren't equally divided.

2.

I hope she'll be a fool—that's the best thing a girl can be.


Daisy Buchanan, Chapter 1

This quote shows that Daisy is not truly content with her role as a frivolous, wealthy wife. Although that role is the most she can foresee for her daughter, she is not happy about that either.

3.

I told that boy about the ice. ... You have to keep after them all the time.


Myrtle Wilson, Chapter 2

Through her affair with Tom, Myrtle believes she is part of the elite and pretends to be a snob at the hotel. She is distorting reality, ignorant that she will never be fully accepted.

4.

Before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.


Jordan Baker, Chapter 4

Jordan explains why Daisy married Tom, even though she was in love with Gatsby. Tom offered financial security and social prestige that she couldn't pass up.

5.

They're such beautiful shirts ... I've never seen such beautiful shirts.


Daisy Buchanan, Chapter 5

Daisy sobs when she sees the wealth Gatsby has amassed. She realizes that she could have had it all—love and money—if she had waited for him as she promised she would.

6.

He invented ... the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would ... invent.


Nick Carraway, Chapter 6

In pursuing his version of the American dream, Gatsby remakes himself into what he believes, on a superficial level, to be the ideal man: a wealthy socialite moving upward on the social scale.

7.

You always look so cool.


Daisy Buchanan, Chapter 7

This is Daisy's roundabout way of telling Gatsby that she loves him, but it focuses on his appearance, serving as a reminder of how shallow Daisy's love is.

8.

I go off ... and make a fool of myself, but I always come back.


Tom Buchanan, Chapter 7

Tom justifies his extramarital affairs because in his heart, he loves Daisy and always comes back to her, which highlights his immorality and selfishness.

9.

What'll we do ... this afternoon ... and the day after that, and the next thirty years?


Daisy Buchanan, Chapter 7

Although Daisy usually maintains a cheerful demeanor, this line reveals that she is sad about what she sees as the meaninglessness of her life.

10.

So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.


Nick Carraway, Chapter 7

This line from Nick, as the narrator, carries a double meaning. Nick, musing on his 30th birthday, sees ahead of him a rather gloomy future of dwindling social prospects and loneliness, leading eventually to death. The line also foreshadows the evening's events: Gatsby and Daisy are ahead of them in Gatsby's car and will soon have the tragic accident that results in the death of Myrtle Wilson.

11.

You're worth the whole damn bunch put together.


Nick Carraway, Chapter 8

Nick has come to truly care about Gatsby, despite his criminal behavior. Gatsby embodies passion and single-minded determination, which Nick respects much more than being born into an elite position.

12.

You may fool me but you can't fool God!


George Wilson, Chapter 8

After Myrtle is killed, George tells his neighbor Michaelis that he had warned her that God is all-seeing. Despite the disregard for institutionalized religion during the 1920s, George reminded his wife that there are still consequences for immoral behavior.

13.

They smashed up things ... and then retreated back into ... their vast carelessness.


Nick Carraway, Chapter 9

Describing Tom and Daisy, Nick realizes that the wealthy can always hide behind their money, which perpetuates their immorality and sense of entitlement.

14.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the ... future that year by year recedes before us.


Nick Carraway, Chapter 9

This quote repeats Gatsby's dream of a future based on his past romance with Daisy. Although he believed that his idealized future was possible, his attempt to re-create their past love failed because Daisy's present, including Tom and their daughter, could not be ignored. Daisy still had feelings for Gatsby, but her love for Tom and Pammy could not be overcome; her current life destroyed any possibility for Gatsby's longed-for future.

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