“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning--
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”
This passage, which is the last in the novel, is also the most significant. It focuses on the role of the past in the dreams of the future. It is a metaphor for Gatsby, his struggle, and the American Dream. Gatsby was a man forever moving forward, while remaining squarely focused on the past. He was an idealistic dreamer who reinvented himself, achieved financial wealth and social success, but failed to attain his overarching goal – Daisy’s love. He chased illusions and ignored reality, and ultimately it destroyed him. Gatsby’s optimism that he could transcend time and re-create the past in the present was shattered by Daisy’s rejection of him due to his dubious past. Gunned down for a crime he did not commit, and abandoned by his “friends” and business associates, the successful man who seemed to have everything, in reality, had nothing. Gatsby’s death exposed the ugly truth behind the glittering façade of the American Dream – it is a myth. The noble goals of equality, progress, and the pursuit of happiness have been corrupted by the emptiness and excesses of rampant materialism, hedonism, and moral decrepitude. The optimistic people who come to the new world with the hope of a better life and the belief that they can succeed if they try hard enough, are products of their past, and will continue to struggle in vain towards a goal that moves ever farther away.