On the white steps an obscene word, scrawled by some boy with a piece of brick, stood out clearly in the moonlight
The graffiti on Gatsby’s steps evokes a deserted building, bathroom stall, or any other site vandals might consider uncared-for or unloved enough to deface.
That Gatsby’s house is now a target for such abuse reinforces the line describing it as an “incoherent failure.” Gatsby’s ultimate goal was to climb the social ladder and achieve both romantic and worldly success. However, it appears that he has failed in his quest: since his death, his house has gone to seed and his memory has been neglected or mocked.
Also see Barbara Will’s influential essay “The Great Gatsby and the Obscene Word.” From the abstract:
Through foregrounding Nick’s act of erasure, Fitzgerald emphasizes the process through which the “whitewashing” of Gatsby’s reputation must occure in order for Gatsby’s story to become the story of America itself.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “The Great Gatsby (Chapter IX)” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and leave a comment on the lyrics box