Quotes and Quotations are phrases, sentences, lines, and even paragraphs written by an author within a story or a literary piece that stands out from the rest of the text. These quotes express universal truths or situations. The Great Gatsby has famous quotes given for different situations. These quotations are often cited and referenced in various situations. The novel is greatly applauded for its remarkable phrases and lines. Here are some of its famous quotes with contextual explanations.
Quotes in The Great Gatsby
“I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
Daisy speaks these lines in Chapter-1 and expresses her fears for her daughter. Daisy’s remarks are ironic in nature because she refers to the social values of that era. She describes her own boredom of life, which seems to explain that a girl can be a fool if she is attractive and beautiful. These lines are significant in that social taboos attached to the women remain the same in all situations. Daisy believes if a girl is ignorant, she will not suffer or notice the harsh realities around her.
“I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
Jordan Baker speaks these sentences to Nick Caraway at a party thrown by Jay Gatsby. He is interested in large parties, for there are more chances to have a one-on-one conversation with people. At small parties, there is less or no room of privacy because everyone contributes to the discussion. At large parties, people are usually less curious about the others. Also, there is a room for private dialogues. These lines give a clear picture of Baker’s nature.
“He had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced, or seemed to face, the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself.”
Nick’s close examination of Gatsby’s smile and character leads him to utter these words in the third chapter of the novel. He says that Gatsby’s smile is so charismatic and precious that you rarely see such a smile in the whole course of your life. He can make everyone he smiles at feel important and special as if the person is extraordinary. This quote is significant in that it shows Nick’s most optimistic stance toward Gatsby.
“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”
This quote occurs in the fourth chapter when Nick and Jordan are talking about Gatsby. This famous quote of this novel demonstrates that there are four types of people. Nick Carraway beautifully divides people into four different categories; the ones who are being pursued, the one who is pursuing someone, the ones who are in a relationship and those who are tired of all these games. This quote signifies Nick’s in-depth analysis of human beings.
“The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of west egg, long island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of god—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about his father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.”
Nick Carraway presents a deep analysis of Gatsby’s character by comparing him with Jesus Christ. These lines express that Gatsby is a self-made man and has emerged from the idea of himself. According to Nick, Gatsby determined to raise himself up when he was seventeen and remained persistent until the end. Ernest Renan also uses the same reference in his writing Life of Jesus.
“Can’t repeat the past? … Why of course you can!”
Here Gatsby is talking to Nick Carraway about how life was a blessing when he was with Daisy and that now he wants those moments back. Nick, in turn, responds that the past cannot be repeated and that he should go with the flow. This is an example of typical saying “money can’t buy you, love.” This is also an example of his naïve thinking of Gatsby that on her desire Daisy would give up everything to revive old moments with him. This quote is significant as it describes the inner conflict of Gatsby, who knows past cannot be recreated yet he wants to rejoice it.
“They’re a rotten crowd… you’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”
Nick Carraway says these words to Gatsby when he sees him for the last time before his assassination. He conveys to Gatsby that his virtues are better as compared to the virtues of the spoiled lot he is with. This quote is significant because this shows the development of Nick’s character. At the beginning of the book, Nick says he is “inclined to reserve all judgments.” But towards the end, he is capable of making judgments about different characters in the book.
“Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.”
Wolfshiem speaks these words to Nick Carraway when he talks about Gatsby after his death. He reminds Nick memories of Gatsby but when he asks him to attend Gatsby’s funeral. He simply refuses with these remarkable words. It is a great quote to teach a lesson that one should give value to his friends in their lives instead of winning praises at their funerals.
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. And then one fine morning—so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Nick Carraway concludes the novel with these lines, comparing the significance of the past to dreams of the future with a green light. Human beings cannot escape their past because it functions as the source of their ideas about the future. These lines are significant in that no matter how far human beings go, the roots of everything lie in their past.
“That’s my Middle West . . . the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark. . . . I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all—Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.”
These lines from chapter nine when Nick compares the East and the West. Though he is dazzled by the East, he confesses that after Gatsby’s death, the East starts to hunt him. Now he finds solace, satisfaction and sense of belonging in his own middle-west. Nick concludes the motif of geography in The Great Gatsby in these lines. Nick explains that all characters share some common traits. They all have the idea of the American dream, but they can never forget that their roots are grounded in the East.