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Summary • Nick and Gatsby visit the Buchanans’, where Jordan is also a guest, and meet Daisy’s daughter. • En route to the city, the group stops at George Wilson’s garage, and Wilson discloses that he and his wife are planning to go West. • The group takes a room at the Plaza Hotel, where Tom and Gatsby argue about which of them Daisy loves. • Myrtle Wilson is killed by a hit-and-run driver. • Gatsby reveals to Nick that Daisy was driving the vehicle, but announces his intention to take the blame.
Turning Point The events in this chapter lead us inexorably to the tragic ending. The party is well and truly over. As Gatsby becomes firmly embroiled in his affair with Daisy proper, he rejects the materialism and conspicuous consumption that defines the era. Everything now is invested and dedicated to the fulfilment of his dream – Daisy.
The party is over • Gatsby is no longer throwing theatrical parties on his lawn. ‘The whole caravansary has fallen in like a card house at the disapproval in [Daisy’s] eyes’. In addition, he has sacked significant numbers of his huge staff in order to prevent gossip about him. He is more cautious about his image now that he and Daisy are ‘back together’. • This indicates how – for Gatsby – money in itself means nothing, he doesn’t enjoy the trappings of wealth (remember how he behaves at his parties). Everything is dedicated to the quest beyond money – Daisy, his dream.
The heat • Pathetic fallacy is used again in this chapter to convey the atmosphere surrounding the characters. Just like the rain in earlier. • In groups, find quotes which establish this pathetic fallacy and explain what atmosphere this creates. Think about why this is established so early on in the chapter.
The heat • The ‘broiling’ weather sets the scene for this pivotal chapter, establishing a mood of suppressed anger and spiralling passions: As my train emerged from the tunnel into sunlight, only the hot whistles of the National Biscuit Company broke the shimmering hush at noon. The straw seats of the car hovered delicately on the edge of combustion; the woman next to me perspired delicately… This stifling humidity sets a tense, claustrophobic atmosphere. We are literally and metaphorically waiting for the thunderstorm to break and Fitzgerald creates an overwhelming sense of climax and impending doom.
The heat • The idea of a ‘breaking point’ is emphasised by the image of combustion, We have a sense of climax about the this passage, as if the weather has signalled a change in atmosphere, one in which heralds disaster.
‘We can’t move’ • The reader is given a direct link to the beginning of the novel when Fitzgerald describes Daisy and Jordan’s inability to literally and metaphorically ‘move’ in this chapter. • This inertia emphasises their inability to progress as humans. • In pairs, discuss why both characters find this difficult and explain the different ways they are ‘stuck’ in their lives.
Daisy and Jordan She cheats, therefore taking the short cut to success, which is a false interpretation of the dream. Cheating is a short-cut to success. It needn’t be earner – it s taken. Daisy Cannot progress as a mother because she is too self obsessed. She is unable to make decisions in her own life, never mind help raise a child and be a good role model. Essentially, they are both aimless and whimsical without any real direction or purpose to their lives. Both women are lazy and turn each decision about their lives into a whim. The decision, therefore to head to the city is itself a tragic one, since it is borne out of sheer boredom.
Daisy and Pammy • This relationship is especially revealing since it highlights just how artificial and insincere Daisy is as a mother. She is merely playing the part but is utterly unconvincing and false. • Pammy is no more than a toy, paraded out in front of guests to be looked at and admired. Oddly she has “old yellow hair”, the colour of decay and is prematurely aged. • Daisy’s inability to love her own child is a crucial flaw in her character – is she really capable of experiencing real love for anyone other than herself?
Daisy’s carelessness Without noticing, Daisy manages to let the entire group – even her husband – know that she ‘loves’ Gatsby. As a group discuss the following points: • Is this a real statement of love? • Think about what we know of Daisy’s character. Does this make us question this declaration? • There was no preparation on Daisy’s part for this declaration so should it be relied upon?
Daisy Her admission of love for Gatsby is careless and impulsive. Her lack of thought beforehand indicates that her feelings lack conviction and shouldn’t be relied upon. Any admission of love given so easily needs to be questioned. Daisy just blurts it out, then goes on ‘innocently’ as if nothing had happened. Significantly, by demanding to go to town and declaring her love, she again sets the triggers for the disaster of the afternoon.
‘Her voice is full of money’ • Daisy has just been comparing Gatsby to an advertisement, She unconsciously connects Gatsby with his material aspirations. After all, it was the symbol of the shirts which finally alerted her to his renewed eligibility. Gatsby makes the above comment out of his understanding of Daisy’s mentality. He doesn’t mean it (as we would) as a criticism. She represents – for him – the spiritual side of materialism.
Wilson’s Sickness • Wilson invites a direct comparison to Tom. Both men are now aware that their wives are having affairs yet react very differently. Gatsby also has completely different view on love and women. • George’s reaction to his wife’s infidelity is in stark contrast to the reaction of Tom to Daisy’s affair. George’s emotional reaction renders him sick and pale with grief – he even resorts to locking Myrtle in a room upstairs while he plans to return to the Midwest. • Tom is merely angry, he sees Daisy's love for Gatsby as a sign that civilisation is about to end – he cannot conceive of someone from her class stooping to consort with the ‘nouveau-riche’.
TASK Each group will be given one of the male characters and you must prepare a presentation which describes their views on love, how the perceive the women in their lives and finally what type of man they are. Use the help guides below to help:
TASK Tom is a PRAGMATIST (when you deal with a problem in a realistic way rather than obeying fixed theories, ideas or rules). Think about he attitude to those who are different from him, and whether he is a ‘successful’ character. George is a ROMANTIC. Think about how he feels about his wife and what he will do for her. How does he react when he learns of the affair? Gatsby is an IDEALIST (someone who believes that very good things can be achieved, often when this does not seem likely to others). Why does he pursue Daisy? What is his impression of her? Does he really want Daisy or just the dream of her?
Wilson and Tom Wilson – a romantic – is literally sick with grief about his wife’s infidelity. He is a loving and naïve husband who is only guilty of loving his wife too much. Myrtle’s lack of love is what kills him. Tom – the pragmatist – has merely had his pride dented. He will go to great lengths to protect himself, his possessions and his place in society. He is naturally aggressive and Fitzgerald argues that men like Tom are best placed to succeed in American Society. Men who put themselves first are the strongest.
Gatsby – the idealist – is wounded by Daisy’s admission that she cannot say she doesn’t love Tom, he refuses to accept the idea that she may not really love him. Always, Gatsby needs to retain the dream. He must continue to have something to aspire to. His idea of recapturing her is greater than his desire to love her.
The End of Gatsby and Daisy • The Confession Crucially, it is Gatsby’s incriminating admission about the source of his fortune that really spells the end of his relationship with Daisy. In her skewed morality, infidelity, betrayal and cheating are all acceptable to the established elite as long as the rules are followed. However, the fact that Gatsby’s wealth comes from bootlegging and other illegal means is a step too far for Daisy. The hypocrisy of this is not lost on the reader yet there is no sense of irony from Daisy herself.
Tom and Daisy Interestingly, it is the recognition and admittance of both their infidelities which provokes a renewed sense of intimacy between the couple – perhaps evidence of just how dysfunctional and destructive their relationship is at its core. • In groups, find three quotations which highlight this sense of intimacy and explain WHY you think Daisy chose Tom.
Tom and Daisy Nevertheless, for the first time we glimpse a real and genuine sense of affection between the two in the hotel room, when Daisy admits “even alone I can’t say I never loved Tom. ” The listing of significant shared events over the last 5 years together emphasises this intimacy which is again witnessed after the accident when they are seen conspiring together about the accident. In the end, when events spiral out of control, she retreats to the comfort and security of the old-money life. It is of course deeply ironic, that as she and Tom plot against him, Gatsby is protectively watching over her.
Myrtle’s Death This is prophetic of course of Gatsby’s own demise and filled with ironic symbolism. The description of her death is very telling and adds to the selfishness of Daisy’s character. In groups, prepare a presentation which gives your interpretation of her death. Think about: • Why she runs out to the yellow car. Who does she think is driving and why is this ironic? • The description of her blood. What does this make you think about? • Her sexuality and how this is exposed. • What statement Fitzgerald is trying to make about class?
• That she dies reaching out for the very thing she feared the most , Daisy, is especially revealing, as is the description of the accident. She is left kneeling, in an almost reverent pose while her “thick, dark blood” is reminiscent of her robust sexuality, vitality and passion. Even in her death her sexuality is exposed and made public: her “left breast…swinging loose like a flap” is an almost grotesque and gratuitous image, emphasising that she has been consumed and used up. • Both Tom and Daisy have been instrumental in her death (she believed Tom was in the car and daisy killed her). Daisy doesn’t even stop to mop up the mess she has made.
Tom and Daisy Conspire… • When Nick leaves the Buchanans’ house, he notices Gatsby standing there in his pink suit. He is determined to keep watch over Daisy, in the improbable hope that he can protect her from Tom’s anger. • Right to the end, he casts himself as hero prince, and she as the trapped princess in her castle fortress, • Gatsby informs Nick that he intends to take the blame for Daisy’s mistake, thus casting himself in a ‘martyred’ role that will be more fully developed in the next chapter.
Tom and Daisy Conspire… As Nick leaves the scene, he comes across a lighted window. Inside, Tom and Daisy are ‘nodding in agreement’ with one another: They weren't happy… and yet they weren’t unhappy either. There was an unmistakable air of natural intimacy about the picture, and anybody would have said they that they were conspiring together. In pairs, discuss what you think Daisy and Tom are planning to do and justify your opinions using your knowledge of the novel as a whole.
Tom and Daisy Conspire… • Daisy and Tom are obviously discussing how to frame Gatsby. It is therefore poignant and ironic that Gatsby keeps watch over Daisy until dawn – ‘watching over nothing’. Far from being a romantic, like George, or an idealist like Gatsby. Daisy is a pragmatist like her husband. They are actually very well suited to each other. She abandons all notions of Gatsby when details of his business practises are aired, and retreats into the solid, comfortable world of ‘old money’ in the wake of the accident.
The End of the Dream • Gatsby’s refusal to accept Daisy's betrayal and the fact that he sticks with her to the bitter end is an indication of his idealism, his dedication to the dream. Even when faced with the certainty that she is lost to him, Gatsby refuses to relinquish the dream. He is a purist and idealist. He will never settle. It is this which is both his most admirable quality and his downfall. This is a common theme in American literature – the anti –hero – someone, who despite his flaws is ultimately elevated to heroic status. Gatsby is in constant turmoil yet paradoxically the turmoil inspires him. He is only content when aspiring for something. Once he has it within his grasp it is rendered worthless so he changes the dream to suit.
The End of the Dream • For example, at first he craved Daisy, when he couldn’t have her he amended his dream to include financial success as a means to attract her. When finally he has Daisy in his reach he changes it again, trying to hold onto the voice which is of course unattainable. The logical conclusion to Gatsby’s dream therefore will always be failure BUT although the dream is an illusion, it is nevertheless worth aspiring to • In this way, Gatsby’s life – and death – represents the American Dream itself. It is a dream devoted to spiritual values, but once it is realised, it becomes corrupt.