It was the man with owl-eyed glasses whom I had found marvelling over Gatsby’s books in the library one night three months before.

from F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby (Chapter IX) on Rap Genius

Meaning

Fitzgerald’s perception of sight throughout the novel reflects a contrast between what is visible and what is hidden. The man’s glasses, and sight in general, are symbolic of the clarity with which each individual in the novel perceives the rest of the world around them. And perhaps this perception can even be broadened to large groups of characters that associate with each other socially.

One way to see this world of the 1920’s is from an insider’s perspective (what many anthropologists and psychologists would argue is the best way to understand a certain culture). However, Fitzgerald presents an idea contrary to this method. In fact, the man with the owl-eyed glasses, who hovers on the margins of all the parties, seems eagle-eyed in being the only character besides Nick who is able to look past Gatsby’s facade and see the man that he truly was.

Nick and Owl-eyes are the only ones to attend the funeral: they are the characters that could see clearer than the others. However, with Gatsby dead, things seem fogged, as symbolically implied by Owl-eyes' having to wipe his glasses constantly in order to see. Now even those who see things keenly, as from a bird’s-eye view, have trouble differentiating between the real and unreal, the good and the bad in the world.

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