An important theme in The Great Gatsby is that of mutability and loss. Over the years that Gatsby fought in the first World War, his dream of Daisy did not change, but she changed. Gatsby found out the hard way that the past cannot be changed.
Great Gatsby Quotes about Mutability and Loss
“It is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men”(page 6-7).
In describing Tom Buchanan, Nick says he was “a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterwards savors of anti-climax” (page 10).
When describing first meeting with Tom and Daisy, Nick remarks that the encounter was “sharply different from the West where an evening was hurried from phase to phase toward its close in a continually disappointed anticipation or else in sheer nervous dread of the moment itself” (page 17).
Past the valley of Death, “anything can happen now that we’ve slide over this bridge” (page 73).
“Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder” (page 73).
“All the lights were going on in West Egg now; the electric trains, men-carrying, were plunging home through the rain from New York. It was the hour of a profound human change and excitement was generating on the air” (page 101).
“’What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon,’ cried Daisy, ‘and the day after that, and the next thirty years?’ Don’t be morbid,’ Jordan said. ‘Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall’” (page 125).
“He stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air, to save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him. But it was all going by too fast now for his blurred eyes and he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever” (page 161).