Symbolism is a very important device in Fitzgerald’s 1926 masterpiece, The Great Gatsby. Different objects, words or actions symbolize different character traits for each person depicted in his novel. Through symbolism, Fitzgerald manages to describe three completely different aspects of the human life. He conveys the glittery, magnificent life of the rich, the gray, ugly and desperate life of the poor, and the mundane struggles of those in between.
Through the eyes of Nick Carraway, which in this case substitutes the narrator as well, the author depicts the majestic life of those who, by pure coincidence or happenstance, were born more advantageously than the rest of society. Their life is full of riches and placed in a fairy tale decorous. However, despite all that, their life is not a fairy tale in the least. On the contrary, it is far from that.
From the first chapter, we are introduced to the Buchanans, who apparently have it all. Contrary to appearances though, they are miserable. The first sign of unhappiness is Tom’s need for another woman other than his wife. This is made known by the very indiscrete Jordan Baker, who mentions this fact to Nick Carraway: “Tom’s got some woman in New York….She might have the decency not to telephone him at dinner time. Don’t you think?”(Fitzgerald 20) This remark is made in response to Daisy’s abrupt reaction, when hearing the telephone. Later on in the novel, the telephone is again used as a means of insinuating Tom’s affair, when Jordan is once again, more than eager to tell everybody what the Buchanan’s situation is: “The rumor is that that’s Tom’s girl on the telephone.” (Fitzgerald 110) In this particular case the telephone symbolizes Tom’s affair and his marriage, which is threatened whenever the phone rings.