Saturday, May 16, 2009

What is your "green light"?

From The Great Gatsby:
[H]e stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward -- and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock (25-26; emphasis added).
The New York Times recently featured an article entitled, "Gatsby’s Green Light Beckons a New Set of Strivers". As you think about what it is that you desire most, consider the responses of these urban and immigrant students in a Boston high school.

17 comments:

Kimber said...

Now that we have reflected on the first chapter of The Great Gatsby, it is interesting to see the great significance of the “single green light.” In the article from the New York Times, the green light for the students is to go to college so they can have the skills to pursue the American Dream. Similarly, in my Spanish class we were watching a movie called, El Norte, which portrays the United States as a fantasy place where people come and are immediately successful. The movie reveals that in order to achieve the American Dream, a lot of hard work and determination is necessary and for some it is a dismal failure. In contrast, I also completed a project interviewing an immigrant from Ecuador who has found a better life in the United States and is able to help his family achieve their dreams. I am expecting that Fitzgerald will show how the American Dream affects the different characters in the book. He has already shown the old aristocratic of East Egg, the new rich of West Egg, and has contrasted them with the working poor living in the “valley of ashes.” Each of these groups is striving for their perception of the American Dream and this is their green light.

Julia said...

When i read this article from the New York times, it was really interesting to learn about how this book has changed students' views on the future. The starting of this book has not really caught my attention about a "green light" yet but i am sure that it will soon because we are only on chapter three. To tell the truth, i was kind of finding this book a bit boring and hard to read because it is nearing the end of school and the weather is becoming warmer. But from reading this article with other students' views on the book, it is keeping me interested to see what Fitzgerald is going to add in next about the dreams that people have and wish for. The comment that i liked the most from the article would be from the girl from the Dominican Republic. She said, “For me the American dream is working hard for something you want. It’s not about having money. My dream is to get an education that I can’t get in the Dominican Republic, to live comfortably.” I liked what she said because so many people are already worrying about what college they are going to and how much money they are going to make when they are older. I liked how she said that what she learned from the book was that you have to do what you want and live your life comfortably. For her, her green light is being able to work hard for what she wants to do and make enough money to support a family. I agree with her and think that after i finish this book, i will get a similar outlook to life and my green light will be to work hard and do the best that i can, and that money does not always mean everything, but it is good to have a good amount to be comfortable and raise a family.

Max Rice said...

I thought it was interesting how the green light was at the end of the dock. To me that means that either that green light can only be reached at the end of our lives (the dock). Or that once we reach our own goal/light, we enter the dock and begin a whole new journey.

maddie hilbrant said...

I agree with Julia, Max and Kimber. I think that after reading the NY Times article, I have a whole new outlook on the "green light". I don't usually pick up on things such as the "green light" when I read, but I have learned that sometimes the smallest and simplest words mean the most. Like Julia, this book has not had a major impact on me, but after seeing that article, I think it's great that this book can symbolize something for the students. It's really great that they have something to work toward, as one of the students said "[her] green light is harvard" and that goal is a great goal to have. I also agree with Max. I think it's very interesting how the "green light" is at the end of the dock, because to me, a "green light" symbolizes GO and it's an interesting contrast given that it's at the END of the dock.

Kimber said...

I don't exactly agree that the green light signifies the end of something just because it is located at the end of the dock. I think the dock is showing that it is something that can be reached, but there is a path that needs to be taken to reach it. Green is sometimes a color of greed, but other times a color of success. In this instance I feel that once you reach the "green light" it is because you have been successful and achieved your goal. As Max did state, reaching the green light can mean the beginning of a new journey or a new path that has begun in your life.

KBolos said...

I have actually always interpreted the green light as something you cannot, in fact, ever reach. It's your greatest fantasy, biggest dream, or most outrageous goal. It's something that you strive for your entire life. You reach many high points along the way, and you are more than capable of being happy and successful on the "path." But I don't think the green light is meant to be reached. It's the step above where you're meant to be. It shows that humans can always improve themselves. We can always strive for more, because we always have that green light at the end of the dock.

KBolos said...

Haha forgot to answer the question... So to follow that up, my green light is world peace. I don't ever expect to reach it, but that doesn't make me feel hopeless or discouraged. It makes me strive for it with every action. I go to peace rallies, I join and advocate for causes I believe in, I wear tie-dye shirts, and I fight injustices with words. I'll always keep improving my life and the lives of others whenever I can. It's how I plan to live my life. I don't think I'll see total world peace in my lifetime, but I will always keep hoping for it, because I see it at the end of the dock.

KBolos said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matt H said...

I sort of agree with Max, but when I see a green light on a dock, to me, it symbolizes the fact that I'm home. It doesn't matter where in the world I am, when there's a green light guiding me to the dock, I feel safe knowing that in a few minutes I'll be on land and to me, that is home.

andrea said...

I think that the students featured in the New York Times are quite accurate. I believe what they say, in that the green light is their hopes and dreams and what they want to aspire to be. I think it can be something reachable like getting a 4.0 or being admitted to Harvard or something vast such as world peace. I would have to say my green light would be to travel the world (like i said in class, backpacking through europe and south america). I think the green light was far away to show that it takes hard work and it is not easily obtained. I also think that in Gatsby, Nick says that he "distinguished nothing except a single green light" because in your darkest hour, your dreams and aspirations are what keep you going.

andrea said...

I think that the students featured in the New York Times are quite accurate. I believe what they say, in that the green light is their hopes and dreams and what they want to aspire to be. I think it can be something reachable like getting a 4.0 or being admitted to Harvard or something vast such as world peace. I would have to say my green light would be to travel the world (like i said in class, backpacking through europe and south america). I think the green light was far away to show that it takes hard work and it is not easily obtained. I also think that in Gatsby, Nick says that he "distinguished nothing except a single green light" because in your darkest hour, your dreams and aspirations are what keep you going.

Frettzilla said...

I in fact am a little on the opposite side of most people. i believe that the green light symbolizes a sense of mysteriousness of the future. People do not know what their future has in store for them and you dont know where the green dot is coming from. they are both just laying in the distance, a point that you want to try and figure out.

walt said...

I agree with frett on this, the green light to me is the future, like the light at the end of the tunnel. It is Gatsby reaching toward his future but not knowing what is in store. I went on google and according to google, green symbolizes hope and wealth. So i feel that what gatsby and nick are seeing is that his future is going to be very prosperous.

KBolos said...

But Gatsby /does/ know where the green light is coming from...

walt said...

Ah, another Bolos to parry with. How do you know that, he just reaches out toward the light. He doesn't know what it is. Unless of course you have read further than me. In that case, your probably right.

Leslie Co said...

Okay, this might seem a bit frank but I'm just thinking here. The fact that the light is on a dock, which you could actually walk down, rather than a moutain (I know not similar) which i would make the green light much harder to reach, makes me think the green light is something that can be reached. I think that if it was meant to be something unattainable then Fitzgerald would have used another "path" that wouldn't have been as easy to walk down. And I don't mean to say easy, as in the goal is easy to reach, but easy in the sense that you can obtain the goal you strive for.

Kelly said...

I think the green light is a symbol of what the future holds, whether it is your goals, dreams, or the open ended future. The green light is not tangible so it does not have to be exact thing. The green light could be anything or everything since it could represent life as a whole. The light is shown towards the dock and it is something that would lure you in and try to get you to go to it. One of the first things I think about when I see or hear green, I think “go”. So the green light is the signal to go with your instincts of what path you think is right. You can always change it and go with that. The green light is an eye opening symbol.