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The Sidewalk Ladder


In a flashback, the night of Gatsby and Daisy’s first kiss is described, and it includes this description of the sidewalk, “Out of the corner of his eye Gatsby saw that the blocks of the sidewalks really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees – he could climb to it, if he climbed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder.”

What does this climb represent?


As he is about to kiss Daisy, Gatsby realizes that he can reach the upper class to which she belongs, but he must make the climb on his own. The reward will be that he will have all he has ever wanted.


Gatsby realizes, just before he kisses Daisy, that he is not of her social status and a long ladder divides their levels in society. He is alone on the lower rung of society and she can’t help him move up.


The sidewalk to Daisy’s house is an obstacle for Gatsby. He begins to realize that her family will not accept him, and that their relationship cannot evolve yet.


Gatsby understands that Daisy must keep their relationship in a “secret place,” meaning she cannot tell her friends or family about Gatsby, and that she will probably marry someone of her own class.


Gatsby knows he will have to leave for the war soon, and he wishes he could run way and hide in a place above the trees, where he could enjoy the pleasures of life, and not have to face the misery of war.