Religious Symbols In The Great Gatsby

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Fitzgerald’s use of symbolism through colours and religious motifs brings out a critique of the pursuit of the American dream, in how such a pursuit of material wealth is ultimately worthless. Through the use of religious and color motifs, Fitzgerald
Parallels can be drawn between Gatsby’s final journey to the swimming pool and Christ’s path to crucifixion.
“Gatsby shouldered the mattress and started for the pool. Once he stopped and shifted it a little, and the chauffeur asked him if he needed help, but he shook his head and in a moment disappeared among the yellowing trees” (Chapter 8, Page 128)
The choice of diction in “shouldered”, an unusual way to carry a mattress, evokes an image of Jesus shouldering the cross on his back. The parallel is further reinforced as Gatsby stopped and struggled with shouldering the mattress. The chauffeur extended help but was declined by Gatsby. In contrast, Simon of
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The cross that Christ was crucified on symbolises a heavy responsibility, a burden that he accepts and willingly sacrifices himself for. It demonstrates the strength of unconditional love as Jesus does not expect anything in return, irrespective of how he has been treated by the people he loved. He still loved them freely, and was ready to die for them. Conditional love from Gatsby on the other hand, has concluded in Gatsby’s death, an outcome he might not have been ready for. While Gatsby was willing to take on Daisy’s crime upon himself, “but of course I’ll say I was” (Page 114), it is not conclusive if Gatsby was willing to go to the extent of sacrificing his life to keep Daisy’s crime a secret. While unconditional love empowered Christ to embrace death for the greater good, conditional love was Gatsby’s noose that led him to a violent death that he might not have been ready for. Unconditional love is freedom to accept any outcome but conditional love is
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