What Does Owl-Eyes Mean In The Great Gatsby

Wednesday, March 16, 2022 12:46:28 PM

What Does Owl-Eyes Mean In The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby - Symbols - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Eckleburg, he seems to be "all seeing. He's a spectator rather than participant, symbolizing what seems to be a distant, uninvolved god. Gatsby's guests are rich and unhappy and the song is about people, who in spite of being poor, are having a good time. With alcohol flowing liberally and Gatsby's opulent spread packed to the gills with hedonistic freeloaders, it's not surprising that the evening ends in such liquor-soaked degeneracy. As Nick walks home he sees old Owl Eyes and another man stuck in a ditch, their automobile wrecked in a drunken crash.

The valley of ashes. The eyes of Doctor T. Instead of being the warm center of the world, the Middle West now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe—so I decided to go East and learn the bond business. Seven years after he graduated from college and three years after the end of the war, Nick moved from the Midwest, his home, to New York City. Owl Eyes is a man that Nick meets in Gatsby's library while attending one of his parties for the first time at this point he has not yet met Gatsby. Owl Eyes is never given a proper name, only called this because of his large glasses. In addition, a rumor going around about Gatsby is that he killed a man.

Furthermore, rumors exist that he was a spy for the Germans and also that he was a soldier in the U. Rumors also exist because one woman doesn't believe that Gatsby went to Oxford, even though he told her that he did. Initially Nick refuses to shake Tom's hand , upset with what Tom has come to represent. When Nick leaves, he shakes Tom's hand because he "felt suddenly as though [he] were talking to a child. Knew when to stop , too — didn't cut the pages. But, as the man discovers, he hasn't cut the pages and actually read them. That's because he's the perfect Belasco, a reference to theater producer David Belasco. Gatsby knows how much he has to do to fool people, and he knows that he doesn't need to cut the pages.

Like most of these guests, he doesn't know Gatsby and Gatsby doesn't know him ; he's just another freeloader who turns up to help himself to Gatsby's free food and booze. The owl was a symbol for Athena, goddess of wisdom and strategy, before the Greeks gave their pantheon human forms. According to myth, an owl sat on Athena's blind side, so that she could see the whole truth. In Ancient Greece, the owl was a symbol of a higher wisdom, and it was also a guardian of the Acropolis. Why is it significant that the man with owl - eyed glasses is the only other person to come to Gatsby's funeral?

The Owl - eyed man , just like the eyes on the signe for T. Eckleburg represents God. Gatsby's dream involves him meeting Daisy Buchannan again, hearing her renounce any feelings that she ever had for her husband, Tom, and for her to love and live with Gatsby for the rest of their lives. One of the themes of the novel is the achievement of the America Dream and this is Gatsby's American Dream. Why does Nick choose to share his thoughts and feelings with Jordan? Nick is an extremely lonely person. Nick also describes himself as being a lonely person anyways. Nick is also attracted to Jordan, so its worth mentioning to it her. But Nick —plain, straightforward, "honest" Nick — ends up being the novel's most interesting character.

Nick changes profoundly over the course of the novel , and his transformation is what makes our Shmoopy hearts beat just a little faster. The owl - eyed man is a party guest at one of Gatsby's infamous parties in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby. He is described as ''a stout, middle-aged man , with enormous owl - eyed spectacles,'' and we never learn his name. We're using this system since there are many editions of Gatsby, so using page numbers would only work for students with our copy of the book. To find a quotation we cite via chapter and paragraph in your book, you can either eyeball it Paragraph beginning of chapter; middle of chapter; on: end of chapter or use the search function if you're using an online or eReader version of the text.

Before delving into the deeper meaning of this image, let's get a general idea of what this object is. In the middle of Queens, along the road the characters take to get from West Egg to Manhattan, near George Wilson's garage , there is a billboard. The billboard is an ad for an optometrist called an "oculist" in the s. The image on the ad is a pair of giant disembodied blue eyes each iris is about a yard in diameter , which are covered by yellow spectacles. The rest of the face isn't pictured, and the billboard is dirty with paint that has faded from being weathered.

Before we can figure out what the eyes mean as a symbol, let's do some close reading of the moments where they pop up in The Great Gatsby. The first time we come across Dr. Eckleburg and his eerie eyes, we are in the midst of a double whammy of terribleness. First, Nick has just described Queens as a depressing, crumbling "valley of ashes" that is "grotesque" and "desolate" 2. Second, Tom is about to introduce Nick to Myrtle Wilson, his married mistress.

But above the grey land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. The eyes of Doctor T. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic—their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness or forgot them and moved away.

But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground… I followed [Tom] over a low white-washed railroad fence and we walked back a hundred yards along the road under Doctor Eckleburg's persistent stare Just like the quasi-mysterious and unreal-sounding green light in Chapter 1 , the eyes of Doctor Eckleburg are presented in a confusing and seemingly surreal way :. Instead of simply saying that there is a giant billboard, Nick first spends several sentences describing seemingly living giant eyes that are hovering in mid-air.

Unlike the very gray, drab, and monochrome surroundings, the eyes are blue and yellow. In a novel that is methodically color-coded, this brightness is a little surreal and connects the eyes to other blue and yellow objects. Moreover, the description has elements of horror. The "gigantic" eyes are disembodied, with "no face" and a "nonexistent nose. Adding to this creepy feel is the fact that even after we learn that the eyes are actually part of an advertisement, they are given agency and emotions. They don't simply exist in space, but "look out" and "persistently stare," the miserable landscape causes them to "brood," and they are even able to "exchange a frown" with Tom despite the fact that they have no mouth.

It's clear from this personification of an inanimate object that these eyes stand for something else—a huge, displeased watcher. The second time T. Eckleburg's eyes appear, Tom, Nick, and Jordan are stopping at Wilson's garage on their way to Manhattan to have it out with Daisy and Gatsby. We were all irritable now with the fading ale and, aware of it, we drove for a while in silence. Then as Doctor T. Eckleburg's faded eyes came into sight down the road, I remembered Gatsby's caution about gasoline….

That locality was always vaguely disquieting, even in the broad glare of afternoon, and now I turned my head as though I had been warned of something behind. Over the ashheaps the giant eyes of Doctor T. Eckleburg kept their vigil but I perceived, after a moment, that other eyes were regarding us with peculiar intensity from less than twenty feet away. In one of the windows over the garage the curtains had been moved aside a little and Myrtle Wilson was peering down at the car. This time, the eyes are a warning to Nick that something is wrong.

He thinks the problem is that the car is low on gas, but as we learn, the real problem at the garage is that George Wilson has found out that Myrtle is having an affair. Of course, Nick is quickly distracted from the billboard's "vigil" by the fact that Myrtle is staring at the car from the room where George has imprisoned her. She is holding her own "vigil" of sorts, staring out the window at what she thinks is the yellow car of Tom, her would-be savior, and also giving Jordan a death stare under the misguided impression that Jordan is Daisy. The word "vigil" is important here. It refers to staying awake for a religious purpose, or to keep watch over a stressful and significant time.

Here, though, both of those meanings don't quite apply, and the word is used sarcastically. The billboard eyes can't interact with the characters, but they do point to—or stand in for—a potential higher authority whose "brooding" and "caution" could also be accompanied by judgment. Their useless vigil is echoed by Myrtle's mistaken one—she is vigilant enough to spot Tom driving, but she is wrong to put her trust in him. Later, this trust in Tom and the yellow car is what gets her killed.

Our last visit to the eyes happens during a private moment between the coffee shop owner Michaelis and George Wilson. Since Nick isn't actually there, this must be Nick's version of Michaelis's testimony to the police after the murder-suicide. Maybe even if you haven't been there for a long time? Maybe I could call up the church and get a priest to come over and he could talk to you, see?

Wilson's glazed eyes turned out to the ashheaps, where small grey clouds took on fantastic shape and scurried here and there in the faint dawn wind. I took her to the window--" With an effort he got up and walked to the rear window and leaned with his face pressed against it, "--and I said 'God knows what you've been doing, everything you've been doing. You may fool me but you can't fool God! Standing behind him Michaelis saw with a shock that he was looking at the eyes of Doctor T. Eckleburg which had just emerged pale and enormous from the dissolving night. Something made him turn away from the window and look back into the room.

But Wilson stood there a long time, his face close to the window pane, nodding into the twilight. Here, finally, the true meaning of the odd billboard that everyone finds so disquieting is revealed. To the unhinged George Wilson , first totally distraught over Myrtle's affair and then driven past his breaking point by her death, the billboard's eyes are a watchful God. Wilson doesn't go to church, and thus doesn't have access to the moral instruction that will help him control his darker impulses.

Still, it seems that Wilson wants God, or at least a God-like influence, in his life—based on him trying to convert the watching eyes of the billboard into a God that will make Myrtle feel bad about "everything [she's] been doing. In the way George stares "into the twilight" by himself, there is an echo of what we've often seen Gatsby doing—staring at the green light on Daisy's dock. Both men want something unreachable, and both imbue ordinary objects with overwhelming amounts of meaning. Even when characters reach out for a guiding truth in their lives, not only are they denied one, but they are also led instead toward tragedy.

The characters have no access to any of these. In the world of The Great Gatsby , there is no moral center. Every character is shown to be selfish, delusional, or violent. Even Nick, who, as our narrator, is ostensibly meant to reflect on who is good and who is bad, turns out to be kind of a misogynist bigot. It's not surprising that none of these characters is shown to have faith of any kind. The closest any of them come to being led by an outside force, or voice of authority, is when Tom seems swayed by the super racist arguments of a book about how minorities are about to overwhelm whites. So it makes sense that Nick, whose job it is to watch everyone else and describe their actions, pays attention to something else that seems to also be watching—the billboard with the eyes of Doctor T.

The billboard watches the site of the novel's biggest moral failures. On a more local level, the garage is the place where Daisy kills Myrtle. But on a bigger scale, the "ash heaps" of Queens show what happens to those who cannot succeed in the ambitious, self-serving, predatory world of the Roaring 20's that Fitzgerald finds so objectionable. The problem, of course, is that this billboard, this completely inanimate object, cannot stand in for a civilizing and moral influence , however much the characters who notice it cower under its gaze. Tom frowns when he feels himself being watched, but this feeling does not alter his actions in any way.

Wilson wants Myrtle to be shaken up by the idea of this watcher, a God-like presence that is unfoolable, but she is also undeterred. Even Wilson himself, who seems to feel the billboard is some kind of brake on his inner turmoil, is easily persuaded that it's just "an advertisement," and so nothing stands in the way of his violent acting out. Like Gatsby, who is also compared to "the advertisement of the man" 7.

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