What Does The Medal Symbolize In The Great Gatsby

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In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald there are many important lines and images. Although there are many important sections, the most important image for gaining an understanding on the novel is the image of Gatsby’s war medal. This scene comes early in the book during Gatsby and Nick’s car ride to the city for lunch. The medal is the epitome of Jay Gatsby. A symbol of skepticism. When Gatsby pulls it out and hands it to Nick, Nick can only look at it in “astonishment”. He is surprised and shocked. He says that the medal has an “authentic look” (Fitzgerald 66). These two descriptions, the first of Nick’s reaction and the second of the medal are important to understanding the book and Gatsby. First of all, Nick does not give…show more content…
Scott Fitzgerald put a lot of time into the placement of this scene. He strategically put in the place he did to clarify something from earlier and set us up for something later. Earlier in the chapter, Nick is at Sunday morning party at Gatsby’s and Gatsby’s past is brought up by two woman. They are saying that “‘He’s a bootlegger’” and that he is a nephew of the notorious former leader of Germany, “Von Hindenburg” (Fitzgerald 61). There is a lot of uncertainty about Gatsby’s past and rumors start popping up because nobody knows the whole truth. Then the medal scene happens and the reader is given hope that Gatsby might not actually have this dark past, that he might actually be a war hero, but we are quickly let down. Gatsby introduces Nick to Meyer Wolfshiem “a gambler...who fixed the World Series back in 1919” (Fitzgerald, 73). Wolfsheim is an old friend of Gatsby’s and it drains any hope that Gatsby is a promising figure who used only legal tactics to make his money. Wolfsheim met Gatsby after the war and Wolfsheim asks Nick if he is looking for a “business gonnegtion” (Fitzgerald 70). One can only assume that this connection is for some type of illegal business and it puts the nail in the coffin. Gatsby 's reputation has been quickly ruined in the span of one
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