F. Scott Fitzgerald is known for his complex use of symbolism and his relentless use of parallelism to tell his readers a story that not only keeps them well entertained but has a deep meaning hidden between its words. One of Fitzgerald’s greatest books, The Great
Gatsby has both the use of parallelism and imagery. One such use of imagery is his use of time throughout the whole book. This consistent use of time is not to show progression but to show the reader a deeper meaning of the Great Gatsby. The use of time comes into play once again when Nick forgets his thirtieth birthday, but this time it can be seen that the significance of this event is relative to the parallelism between Nick and Gatsby.
The parallelism that Fitzgerald constructs between Nick and Gatsby ultimately leads to a significant realization when Nick remembers his thirtieth birthday. This parallelism is that they want to achieve a dream, a dream to become wealthy beyond imagine and become eternally happy forth rough. Fitzgerald uses this parallelism to show that this is indefinitely wrong. As Gatsby is fighting to “get” Daisy from Tom, Nick begins to realize that the dream that he has chasing, the dream that Gatsby has been chasing “… was already behind him…” Gatsby’s dream was already behind him because he couldn’t change his past. This past ideal is parallel to Nick forgetting his thirtieth birthday, Nick knows that he is much too late to accomplish his dream, just as much as Gatsby has, and that he, like Gatsby, has already put his dream behind him, locked away in the unchanging time that Fitzgerald laces throughout the story. Nick’s thirtieth birthday is the turning point for Nick when he realizes that the dream was false because there are some things like time that cannot be bent. When Fitzgerald writes, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” he is telling his readers that this timeless dream of becoming rich and ever happy will always be, because there are people like Gatsby who sill fight against society to achieve his dream. Fitzgerald makes it clear in this sentence that no one will achieve this dream because it is impossible to fully achieve. Gatsby may have been so close to achieving his dream, “that he could hardly fail to grasp it.” But he failed because the dream is false, Gatsby can’t change some things even though he has all the money and wealth imaginable, he can’t change back time to get Daisy. At the time of Nick’s remembrance of his thirtieth birth day he realizes this same idea, that the dream is false and that nothing can be done to change the past or how happy one is with wealth.
Nick’s thirtieth birthday shows how false his dream really is and that is the main significance Fitzgerald is trying to convey here. The use of time ties into the falseness of the dream. Gatsby thinks that he can get daisy but he can’t change the past and loses her. When Nick sees this happen it reminds him of how he won’t be able to change his thirty years of following the same dream that Gatsby has fallen victim to. He knows that the dream is false and that thirty is now”–the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair.”
Later in Nick’s realizations he finds comfort in Jordan’s hand, “… there was Jordan beside me, who, unlike Daisy, was too wise ever to carry well-forgotten dreams from age to age.” This shows that nick’s remembrance of his thirtieth birthday brings about his realization that his dream is a “well-forgotten dream”. He learns at this point from Gatsby’s failure that the dream he is in search of is completely false and that he has no reason to go after it. He has become at this instance like Jordan who isn’t chasing after some dream that in its true reality, creates a worse situation then promised by the age old dream that wealth brings happiness.
In the end Nick’s birthday signifies the turning point of the story, where everything is revealed and then resolved. When Gatsby fails to grasp his dream, Nick realizes the falsness og the age old dream and stops chasing it. Fitzgerald’s use of time and Nicks thirtieth birthday to show the falseness of the dream shows how complex and tied together story the Great Gatsby really is.