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Emily Simpson
AP language and Composition
Mrs. Weathersbee
9 February, 2015
Clothing Color Symbolism

In the novel the Great Gatsby, characters are described wearing a variety of colors during
different occasions. Although many think this only adds detail to the novel, have you ever
thought there was a reason these characters were wearing a specific color? Fitzgerald chooses to
clothe the characters in specific colors to tell the reader more about their personalities. Many
people would overlook these hidden symbols that give them the opportunity to get to know the
characters in a deeper way. These colors, including white, green, blue, gold, yellow, and many
more, are all worn by different people, and each have a symbolic meaning that relates to that
specific person.
The first garment color that becomes prominent in this novel is White. In a majority of
literature, white symbolizes purity, and innocence. Backing up this information is the source
Sensational Color who states, The color white projects purity, cleanliness, and neutrality.
Based off observations of the characters in this novel, the same meaning of white is also
symbolized in The Great Gatsby as well. However they use white not to emphasize their
pureness, but to hide the fact that they are actually impure.
White is worn by Daisy and Jordan when Nick first sees them at the Buchanans house.
Nick states, They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they
had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house (Fitzgerald, 8). The fact that

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they are wearing white seems to be ironic, because the reader discovers later on in the novel, that
Daisy and Jordan really arent innocent at all. Fitzgerald decides to clothe them in white to show
they are trying to make themselves appear pure, but in reality they both have their secrets.
One secret that becomes very obvious is that Daisy cheats on her husband with Gatsby. Another
event that happened in Daisys life was that after she forgot Gatsby, she was married to Tom
Buchanan. Although this doesnt seem harmful to the reader, Gatsby could see this as a flaw or
as her being tainted because she no longer loved just him. However, when Daisy first meets
Gatsby she is described as wearing white, which in this case this is when she actually would be
considered pure. After the events of her getting married and later cheating on her husband, later
on in the novel she also becomes a criminal when she killed Myrtle, her husbands mistress.
However, the fact that it was her doing is not revealed. This also makes Daisy look bad because
she doesn't confess that it was her fault. Daisys best friend, Jordan Baker, can be seen as impure
as well because she is described as dishonest and careless by Nick. There are also rumors
around that she moved her golf ball to win a tournament. Although this was not proven, there is
still a possibility that this is true. It is also very likely that Jordan has done wrong in her past as a
successful and famous golfer, but it is just not revealed to the reader. Daisy and Jordan seem to
be innocent at the beginning of the novel, however their flaws and impurities are brought to the
readers attention as they get deeper into the novel. This is why the fact that they are wearing
white is ironic, and shows they are concealing themselves.
One color that is briefly mentioned, and most likely over looked, is the color green. At
one point in the novel, Gatsby is described wearing a torn green jersey. Green usually
symbolizes nature and also has a relaxing connotation. However, Herbert Huber states, Green
stands for a variety of meanings, but Fitzgerald used it mainly for not faded, like in a green

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old age, or for hope. Gatsbys hope was most likely for success. He wanted to get rid of his
poor lifestyle and create his own dream life. This yearning for a new life and hope for the future
can be represented by the green jersey.
Before Gatsby became wealthy, his name was James Gatz. For over a year he worked on
the shore of Lake Superior as a clam digger and salmon fisher. One day while wearing the torn
green jersey, James Gatz rowed out to the yacht of Dan Cody. He was obviously a wealthy man,
but Gatz just wanted to warn him about a dangerous wind storm coming. This shows the reader
that the fact James Gatz is wearing a green jersey that this is a new beginning for himself. This is
proven true because he changes his name to Jay Gatsby and starts his successful career. This
significant change can be seen by the fact that Gatsby was given a blue coat.
After Cody decided to take Gatsby in and teach him his ways, he bought him a blue coat.
Although Blue most likely is associated with either tranquility or melancholy, the symbolism for
the color blue used in this novel could be hard work and success. This is shown when Gatsby
works hard for Cody and becomes very successful and wealthy. Because Gatsby went from
wearing a green jersey to obtaining a blue coat from Cody, It shows that Fitzgerald used the
color of clothing as symbolism. Gatsbys clothing color also evolves throughout his life which
shows his change of character and his success.
Another example of blue representing hard work is the fact that Gatsbys servants wear robins
egg blue uniforms. These servants are dedicated and are trusted by Gatsby. Trust is also another
symbolism of the color blue according to multiple sources. Gatsby trusts them to take care of his
house, help out at the parties, and even to deliver invitations like one did to Nick.
Besides the color blue, gold also is a sign of success which in turn leads to wealth. Huber also
states that gold stands for, richness, happiness or to prosper, successful, and extremely

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valuable." However instead of wearing the color gold, some of the characters are seen wearing
yellow. Maria Magher states, Yellow is an imitation of gold, and it is used to describe Gatsby.
He has become wealthy, but it is new money, and he has attained it through questionable means.
Yellow represents moral decay and corruption. In conclusion, yellow is seen as almost a fake
gold, which means it isnt as valuable.
This shows that those who wear yellow are not as wealthy or significant to others, but are
trying to appear that way. For example, the twin girls wearing yellow were not view as
glamorous as Jordan. One example is, ""You don't know who we are" said one of the girls in
yellow, "but we met you here about a month ago" (Fitzgerald, 43) because they state that Jordan
doesn't remember them supports the fact that they are considered insignificant. This relates to the
color yellow because it is viewed as is significant compared to the color gold. Her arm was
described as being golden. Also Daisy is described as the golden girl. This is not only
because she is Gatsbys dream girl, but because she has a great amount of wealth to her name.
Lastly, Gatsby is also described as wearing a gold hat which is another sign of his wealth. Since
the main characters are described as golden, or are seen wearing gold, it shows they are more
important or are worth a higher value than the others in the novel.
Gatsby also shows how much wealth he has by trying to show off to Daisy through the
use of clothing. When Nick invites Daisy for tea and Gatsby shows up, he is wearing silver and
gold. The silver, much like the gold he wears, is also a symbol of wealth. Since they are both
metallic and are considered expensive, Gatsby hopes to capture Daisys attention. Daisy left
Gatsby because he had no money, but now that he is very wealthy he wants to show it off to
change her mind about him. He wants to win back his golden girl and hopes she will willingly
forget all that has happened that past few years and be his.

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Another way he tries to impress Daisy is by showing her all his clothes in his home. He took out
a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen, and thick
silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored
disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted highershirts with
stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, with
monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly with a strained sound, Daisy bends her head into the shirts
and began to cry stormily. (Fitzgerald, 92) The multiple colors, fabrics, and patterns of the
colors show how wealthy he is because he had them made from a man in England. All these
different colors could represent the variety of emotions and the meanings of the colors that Daisy
is experiencing now, or maybe would have experienced if her and Gatsby were together in those
years they were apart. Lavender could symbolize their wealth and luxury. Green could represent
harmony and peace. Lastly, orange could symbolize passion and fun. All of these colors and
patterns have different meanings, but they may each represent feelings that are being thrown on
top of Daisy, which causes her to cry. She may say that she is crying because she has never seen
such beautiful shirts before, but in reality she is being piled up with different emotions all at
once.
Gatsby is not being affected by these emotions because he is too caught up in his dream
of having a perfect life, which involves Daisy. This dream of his corresponds to the pink color of
his suit. Pink can represent tranquility, love, and can associate with dreams. Gatsbys dream is to
live the life he has and have Daisy as his own, but he wants her to tell Tom that she never loved
him. Because he decides to wear this color on the day Daisy is supposed to reveal her feelings to
Tom, could symbolize how he expects his dream to come true. However, it did not go as
planned, because there was a time when Daisy did love Tom. In Contrast to pink symbolizing his

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expectation, it could symbolize the fact that his dream was coming to an end. This becomes a
major turning point for Gatsby, when he realizes Daisy cant lie about her loving Tom.
The Pink Suit could also represent the mixture of Red and White. The Red would represent
Toms feelings of defiance and aggression towards the fact that his wife was cheating on him
with Gatsby. The White would represent Daisys false purity. These meanings mix together and
make pink, which puts Gatsby Right between the two, and therefore right in the middle of the
situation.
Fitzgerald uses a wide variety of clothing colors throughout the Great Gatsby. Although
many may think they are simply minor details used to enhance the characters physical
description, they have a deeper meaning. Each of the colors worn by the characters symbolizes
who they are and their personal experiences, or emotions. Fitzgerald was able to give the reader a
hidden message to tell them more about the characters than what is directly stated. These colors
and their symbolisms contribute so much meaning to the characters and the plot of the novel.

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Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 1996. Print

Huber, Herbert. "The Use of Colors in The Great Gatsby." The Use of Colors in The Great
Gatsby. N.p., 8 Nov. 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

Magher, Maria. "Examples of the Symbolism of Colors in "The Great Gatsby"" Education.
Hearst Seattle Media, LLC, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

Smith, Kate. "Color White: Psychology, Symbolism & Meaning - Sensational Color."
Sensational Color. N.p., 31 Dec. 2012. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

"The Great Gatsby: Summary, Themes, Symbols, and Character." Education Portal. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2015.

Wright, Angela. "Psychological Properties Of Colours - Colour Affects." Psychological


Properties Of Colours - Colour Affects. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.