The Great Gatsby

what is the significance of the obscenity scrawled on gatsby's step? why do you think fitzgerald chooses to have it in brick, and therefore not permanent?

chapter 9

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Late in the novel Nick Carraway is wandering past Gatsby's house.He catches sight of and then erases an obscene word scrawled on Gatsby's steps. This scene then gives way to the last four paragraphs of the novel, which stage Gatsby's final redemption and apotheosis as an American icon. Through foregrounding Nick's act of erasure, Fitzgerald emphasizes the process through which the "whitewashing" of Gatsby's reputation must occur in order for Gatsby's story to become the story of America itself. And by emphasizing this process, Fitzgerald reveals a central uncertainty, or void, that lies within the text's final, transcendent vision. This uncertainty is linked to the historical context of the novel, and to Fitzgerald's own suspicions at the time of those who threatened the group to which he felt he belonged, "the old American aristocracy."