I'm currently reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. He has a sentence describing the situation and character of Mrs. Wilson:

she seemed to be revolving on a noisy, creaking pivot through the smoky air.

What does this sentence mean? More specifically, does he mean "through smokey air" metaphorically, as in her haughtiness, or a literally?


1 Answer 1


It is definitely literal. It's possible that it may be metaphorical as well, although I don't see what the metaphor could be.

When the Great Gatsby was written, everybody smoked. The air at parties would gradually get smokier and smokier. Towards the beginning of the party scene (a page earlier than the quote in the OP) Nick goes out to get cigarettes:

then there were no cigarettes, and I went out to buy some at the drugstore on the corner.

So if everybody ran through all their cigarettes, it's clear that people are smoking heavily.

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