The thrilling returning trains of my youth, and the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark and the shadows of holly wreaths thrown by lighted windows on the snow

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

Meaning

The scent of nostalgia wafts from Nick’s reminiscence. The holly wreath shadows on the snow are thrown by “lighted windows”, symbolizing the security of home. The simpleness in this holiday image is in contrast with Gatsby’s party.Nick’s Middle West is the place where street lamps and sleigh bells faithfully accompany him in dark, frosty nights, shielding him from the Eastern coldness; Gatsby’s party is the disarray of spectroscopic colors, but as soon as the lights are out, people scatter like moths, leaving their host in bitter loneliness.

Nick’s birth decides gives him the luxury of a carefree childhood, although he is still exposed to the harsh realities of adult world. At the end of the book, he steps back from the East Coast, trying to retrieve that well-lit, cozy paradise of American Middle West.

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