. As we crossed Blackwell’s Island a limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish negroes, two bucks and a girl.
This scene reinforces the theme of the American dream of class mobility. The black limousine riders' ancestors may be slaves or poor workers; however, the three of them have the money to hire a white person to drive for them. They, or their families, have worked from the bottom of society’s ladder to a much higher rung.
The scene, and the line below—“Anything can happen”—may put us in mind also of the burgeoning artistic movement that seemingly could have taken place only on this island: The Harlem Renaissance.
Even as the scene reflects class mobility and the Harlem Renaissance, the racist overtones are unmistakable. The term “bucks” was a common term used by Whites in reference to young Black men, designating them as something more akin to a Native American, neither race being perceived as quite up to the level of European Whites, not quite as “civilized.” Note the following line in which there is reference to “the yolks of their eyeballs,” another racist reference to the features of Black People.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “The Great Gatsby (Chapter IV)” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and leave a comment on the lyrics box