Cars in the Great Gatsby


The Great Gatsby is one of Scott Fitzgerald’s novels about the gaiety of specific people. One of the main themes of the book is cars and driving. The moment the book was first published, the machine became more and more relevant. Apparently, this is the central event of the novel. The automobile influenced Fitzgerald’s work as it is full of symbolism depicting the role of automobiles. Therefore, it is very important to understand the importance of the car depicted in the novel, why there are many car accidents in the novel, and to analyze the role of material objects.

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Reasons Why Cars are Important in Lives of the Character (Functions of the Automobile Serve both Symbolically and Literally)

The car is important in the lives of the characters as it serves as a status symbol. It is also necessary to indicate that cars have a different meaning for each character. They mean wealth and newfound freedom. For Gatsby, the car represents wealth and materialism. As the author notes, “a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and toolboxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns” (Fitzgerald 68). It is clear that this shows his class and the materialism associated with it. In addition, it is shown that characters with cars can get whatever they want. Gatsby’s car is yellow rather than the usual black, which indicates the ability to use his wealth to achieve everything he needs in life. For Tom, who owns a huge number of cars, he uses them as a reminder of his past. They are a symbol of how materialistic he is and the consuming, as he believes that having enough things, including cars, will make him happy. It is clear that he tries to seek his fortune in beautiful cars, and it is for this reason that he painted his car blue to make it look better than others, although it is cheap like the rest. Also, it is important to indicate that Nick points out that he is “glad that the sight of Gatsby’s splendid car was included in their somber holiday” (Fitzgerald 143). He says this to some of the mourners. Further, he states that black people feel changed at the sight of Gatsby’s cars. Evidently, this demonstrates that ownership of car represents social status for both occupant and possessor.

Reasons Why There Are Many Car Accidents in the Novel

The novel features many accidents, making it gloomy and unhappy and symbolizing death. Numerous glitches show negligence on the part of most of the characters involved in the game, as well as the victims. Throughout the book there are several depictions of many dark events, and one can be identified by the line that says that “so we drove on towards death through the cooling twilights” (Fitzgerald 143). Fitzgerald uses this word to reveal the connection between cars and death, primarily due to the carelessness and irresponsibility of drivers. For example, Nick visits one of the parts of Gatsby, and a witness and a drunk driver crash into a ditch. In particular, this is because people of this caliber do not accept and do not take responsibility for the accident. At another party, a guest ran over several drunken men in his car. The problem of negligence arises when Jordan bumps into Workman and Nick criticizes her driving, and this is where the topic comes in, Jordan goes on to say that it takes two to cause a collision. He asks ‘Suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself.’ ‘I hope I never will,’ she answered. ‘I hate careless people. That’s why I like you’ (Fitzgerald 58). Clearly, this indicates that Jordan has irresponsible driving behavior because she expects others to keep out of her way as she drives on the road. In this way, the audience can obviously understand that through carelessness, the reason there are many coincidences in the book is because careless people bump into each other as no one wants to leave.

A good example of the carelessness and irresponsibility of drivers that lead to accidents is the incident that led to the death of Myrtle. The accident happened when Myrtle decided that Jordan was Tom’s wife and Tom was driving. Therefore, she runs out onto the road after the accident, Daisy does not cease to exceed the speed, which is clear evidence of Jordan’s irresponsibility. On the other hand, Gatsby is playing a cover role for Daisy rather than helping her take charge.

Material Objects

Desire Filled by Acquisition of Material among the Characters

Most of the characters aspiration involve trying to gain status and wealth. The desire to make this dream come true has made it a significant vehicle. In the book, Gatsby owns countless cars in which one is Rolls-Royce that the author describes as “It was a rich cream color, bright and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns” (Fitzgerald 33). It is clear that this should show the rich status achieved.

In addition, it should be noted that material possession acted as a means of achieving various forms of freedom. People felt free to do whatever they wanted when they achieved a high social status in society. Cars were considered a status of wealth as well as a sense of newfound freedom. In other words, the novel portrays a new social freedom that can be enjoyed after a person has acquired a higher status, as this means the opportunity to leave for the place.

Materialism is portrayed as bad when a person becomes obsessed with displaying wealth. Myrtle would be alone if characterized by this aspect. Her living room is crammed with tapestry furniture. She even adopts a different image among her guests, and her obsession with displaying wealth grows more and more furious from moment to moment. As she expands, her room gets smaller until she spins on a noisy, creaking axis. It is clear that this is the wrong approach to life. In addition, Daisy ended up in a loveless marriage because she values money. Therefore, a dream that depends only on materialism is tiresome. Materialism is only good when it is less likely to cause harm.


Indeed, The Great Gatsby gives a clear picture of the car as a symbol of class differences due to its inherent social status. It was also revealed that different characters seek to gain social status by purchasing cars that are better than other people. However, Fitzgerald also describes the numerous accidents that occur in the book due to the negligence and irresponsibility of the characters.


Works Cited

Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.