the gnawings of his broken heart

p. 71:

I saw him opening a chest of rubies to ease, with their crimson-lighted depths, the gnawings of his broken heart.

Gatsby carries around a couple of souvenirs to support the stories of his fantastic past: a war medal from Montenegro, a picture in an Oxford quad. These trinkets provide a tangible base to solidify his gauzy stories in the listener’s imagination; their production in conversation acts as a talisman that makes the stories real. But in the end these physical objects are signifiers for false tales – like building a castle in the air on a base of lily pads.

Gatsby’s use of his souvenirs seems childish and manipulative, but they’re only a more unique and imaginative application of a universal technique. In anyone’s life, what are the stories supported by driving a certain kind of car, or wearing a particular watch, or a wedding ring? These things are not manifestations of the truth; they are symbols of a story, objects we use to paint the brushstrokes of the picture we present to the world.

There’s truth only in action and emotion, not objects, and at the end Gatsby sums up, ‘You see I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad thing that happened to me.‘ The truth is, he is alone in the world, without friends and without a home, unable to escape from the traveling prison of his own regrets.

One thought on “the gnawings of his broken heart

  1. The truth is a weird perception that is best framed by our own mirror. It is what we see while interpreting things which are versed. You look in a mirror. Your physical being stands before you. It represents you but is not you. The truth begins by comprehending that the real you is held inside captive inside, unable to escape from the traveling prison of your own body, desires, thoughts, needs, and wants.

    I have not read The Great Gatsby but i have read your blogs. Is it possible that there are two stories encompassed within the book? Could it be possible that Gatsby understood there is only truth in objects because he, himself, was no more than an object? Could that have been the perception of Fitzgerald?

    After all, you are a visual representation, evidence, object (of sorts), a manifestation of truth; a symbol which appeared using an “application of a universal technique” of procreation by your parents? An object, none the less, whose brush strokes interact with the world. There is truth in objects. Could it be that actions and emotions are the illusion but you cannot deny the visual object?

    In mediocre terminology, truth is based upon ones self perception of what truth may or may not consist of. Gatsby is was not alone in the world. He had himself, memories, observations, thoughts, and heart – all of which is unseen to the naked eye. Maybe that is the underlying story, the undercurrent to reality.


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