The metaphor we might consider is foreclosure: to preclude, to end possibilities; and in commercial terms, to block the possibility of redeeming a loan. Redemption becomes foreclosed, the dream is already lost behind Gatsby before he even tries to grasp it. The majesty of the dream means we cannot relinquish it, but its glory is so diminished that we are now blinded to what the dream really was, left only with dispossession — not only of very real American homes but also of the greater dreams they once symbolized, which Fitzgerald elsewhere describes as “an effort toward some commonweal, an effort difficult to estimate, so closely does it press against us still.” Fitzgerald suggests in Gatsby that we keep thinking our dreams should be bigger, when in fact they need to be better. It’s a lesson we have yet to learn, and the more we invoke what we think we mean by “the American dream,” the more the dream recedes before us, just as Fitzgerald predicted it would.


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