so we beat on boats against the current

The Last Line of the Great Gatsby: “So We Beat On…”

Nothing quite strikes a memorable gut punch like the right finale with the right words. Stay glued to your sofa as we explore the meaning of The Great Gatsby’s last words.

The Great Gatsby was without a doubt the most well-known (and financially successful) book written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

It has been adapted into two motion pictures and has earned a position in the canon of modern American literature.

Understanding The Great Gatsby’s final line can help you better appreciate the narrative and also understand the author’s message, whether you’re a high school English student or simply a lover of Leonardo DiCaprio.

so we beat on boats against the current

All of Gatsby’s characteristics are summed up in one last line: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

This means no matter what he does or how hard he tries, he will always be locked in the past because of his fixation with Daisy.

Nowadays, the word “borne” is rarely used, so it must be understood in its proper context. “Borne” can refer to bringing a person into this world or bearing a heavy load.

The word is employed here as a metaphor for rowing upstream, or, if you prefer, rowing against the current.

Imagine physically attempting to row a boat upstream. You would shortly become exhausted and return to your starting point.

The Great Gatsby’s last sentence only makes sense if you are at least 30 years old, preferably even older.

One of the few advantages of being a woman of a certain age is that convoluted narratives, including obsession, alcohol, self-delusion, and accidents, make more sense.

You must be old enough to have a history and to have made unsuccessful attempts at various endeavors.

You must have a deep-seated understanding from personal experience that bad stuff happens.

With these last words of the book, Nick returns to the theme of the importance of past aspirations for the future, which is symbolized by the green light.

He focuses on how people fight to accomplish their aspirations by transcending and reimagining the past.

In this metaphor, the current pulls humans backward as they row toward the green light, demonstrating their inability to move past the past.

Its tone is upbeat yet realistic about how impossible it would be to achieve the American Dream through hard work alone.

The boat that has spent his entire life battling the current is Gatsby himself.

They cannot escape this history as they continue to turn their aspirations into reality, since it serves as the inspiration for their notions about the future (epitomized by Gatsby’s wish to recreate 1917 in his affair with Daisy).

Although they are always upbeat (saying things like, “Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. “)

They use all of their energy to pursue a target that is getting further and further away.

Depending on how you have absorbed the text, particularly the ending, you will also have your own interpretations.

What’s your interpretation of The Great Gatsby’s last words? Let us know in the comment box below!

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