"What a Girl Wants"

Printable Excerpts From the Popular Color by Number Book

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This genre piece was inspired by Daisy and her daughter, in particular, the "beautiful little fool". It delves into the nature of the important color symbolism in the book, as well as the portrayal of women in the novel and their place in the 1920's.

Here is the color symbolism and an example for why each was chosen (I could probably have gone on forever!)

Red: This color is often overlooked as symbolism in the book due the prominence of colors like green and yellow, but there is a large amount of evidence to support that red is more than just used to describe the what a scene looks like. Red comes to not only to signify the dream through references of a "rosy" nature but it often comes in the form of describing blood. Examples of romantic, dreamy red-Red lips, Gatsby was a collector of fine rubies, Nick is initially dazzled at the Buchanan's house walking "through a high hallway into a bright rosy colored space." Examples of bloody, violent red-"a thin red circle in the water." (162) swirls around Gatsby's dead body in the pool. 
(Roses are beautiful ut don't forget about the thorns!)

White: As is traditional white represents innocence and purity. Yet, in the Great Gatsby it is more so used to represent the illusion of innocence of the people in white. Example-Daisy and Jordan wear white dresses ch. 1 and ch. 7.

Yellow: This represents money as well as overall corruption. Money distorts people's priorities in life. The desire for money drives people to do immoral things, such as breaking the law. Yellow is also light and something illuminated in the story is often special and expensive. Examples- Dr. Eckleburg looks out of distorted yellow glasses (23), Gatsby's car turns from white/cream to yellow after myrtle's death because of the corrupt event it represented (139).

Green: This symbolizes the American Dream. It encompasses Gatby's ultimate goal, which in turn parallels the goals of many others, like that Wilson once had, Myrtle, and the other guests who attended his lavish parties without invitation. Green is a combination of blue and yellow symbolism creating a nobel American Dream (blue) that is being brought down by misguided characters (yellow) ambitions. Example-the green light! 

Blue-Blue represents the side of the ideal dream or illusion. It represents bliss in ignorance or at least in ignoring reality. Examples- Dr. Eckleburg's eyes which peer out of the yellow glasses (23), Gatsby's blue lawn which he worked so hard to attain, and myrtle's blue dress when she meets Tom at the garage "Her face, above a spotted dress of dark blue, contained no facet of glam or beauty," which Tom is ignoring. (25)

Lavender- This color signifies indulgence. It appears when characters get to do things that make them feel of high class. Example-when Myrtle meets with Tom and Nock she waits and chooses a lavender taxi to take to the Hotel where she further changes into a cream dress representing her attempt to be like the wealthy women in the novel (ch 2)

Pink: A combination of red and white pink appears as a foreshadowing tool of the destruction of seemingly harmless objects or events. The rosy references above may also be referring to rosy in a pink nature representing the inherent evil underlying the materialistic desires of the characters. Examples-after the death of myrtle Nick comments on "the luminosity of Gatsby's pink suit under the moon." (142)

Grey-represents a loss of hope and motivation for life. This is clearly exemplified by the down trodden Valley of the ashes and Wilson's ashen clothes he always wears. (first introduced Ch. 2)

The colors in the color by number also reflect these views of symbolism (sometimes the relationship is more direct than others. :) ) Feel free to send feedback and/or ask for any explanations. Putting them all would be a bit extensive.

I want to make special note about Daisy and not only the symbolism that a a Daisy is white and yellow suggesting Daisy's conflicts as a character between money and what her young pure heart desires. Note too that daisies are known to be an easy flower to grow in pots. They are easy to contain and make great flower arrangements. In this way Daisy is easily controlled by Tom. One might even say "fertilized" or fed by his money. His money fills her desires and she will be loyal to him. Although she is cunning and occasionally longs for more independence Daisy likes the security of her home. The confined environment of elite West Egg will hopefully only introduce her daughter to these pleasures in life. Ignorance of hardships and other paths in life makes it easier to be happy. This is why she hopes her daughter will be a "beautiful little fool" (17). This also leads into a brief discussion of 1920's women.  

Although the 1920s was a radical time in the transition of women towards becoming equal to men and joining the work force, Fitzgerald takes a conservative position on making any distictions between the gender roles. Women in the 1920's are exemplified by the flappers. The flapper mentality had women being more assertive and searching for their place as equals beside men. Hem lines became shorter as women were taking control of their lives. Just before Fitzgerald wrote the novel women had achieved the right to vote through the 19th amendment to the US Constitution. Middle Class and poor women even began to take their place beside men in the work force as well.

The socialites in The Great Gatsby do not necessarily represent these drastic changes. These women still strive for wealth and independence but are more reluctant to make changes in their lives because they do not want to risk their current monetary prosperity. The Cambridge Companion states that for Fitzgerald's women characters "personal identity resides in the perceptions of others." p.154 Like Fitzgerald's flirtatious wife, Zelda, Daisy and other women get comfort in knowing that even though they may or may not be married they could still get a man. The representations of high status these women desire is represented in Gatsby by the nice cars, the mansions, and the extravagant parties. 

There's also the example of Jordan Baker who "was incurable dishonest. She wasn't able to endure being at a disadvantage..." (58) The women even Baker who is fairly independent are fearful for their (financial) well being due to their subordination to men. If anyone is going to get underhanded it will be the female, as seen through Tom's cheating for example. This constant fear and need for women to politely defend themselves puts women on constant guard. The high class women of the 1920's just want to be able to relax and not have to worry about taking the brunt of the hardships should they threaten or hit that class in society. 

Quick References

Women in Gatsby - http://ayjw.org/articles.php?id=732913

 Color Symbolism - http://www.helium.com/items/1069499-the-great-gatsby---color-symbolism?page=3

Works Cited

By: Emily Lamberg