Abstract

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s use of vehicles in The Great Gatsby constitutes more than just a symbolic motif: cars, trains, boats, and other means of transportation structure the plot, providing the narrative with motive force and mobility. Characters are brought together and torn apart through changes to the scenario, when vehicles actually start and stop. The characters’ ephemeral relationships start with their riding in the same vehicle, and end—or are brought back to reality—when the vehicle comes to a halt. Within this structure, the novel’s central motif, the “green light,” acts as a traffic signal, giving Gatsby the go-ahead to move onward to create the short-lived world founded upon his belief in mobility. Appropriately, the appearance of Gatsby’s natural father following the final crash, a symbolic accident denoting the end of his dream, indicates what Gatsby had essentially tried to “move” all along: his unchangeable breeding and past. This article taps into the possibility of reevaluating time and breeding—the conventional themes in Fitzgerald’s novel—from the perspective of literal vehicle mobility, which provides important structure to Nick’s narrative.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1755-6333
Print ISSN
1543-3951
Pages
pp. 198-214
Launched on MUSE
2016-12-12
Open Access
No
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