«Chapter I – As Nick Carraway tells it, “the history of the summer really begins” on the evening that he dined with his distant cousin Daisy and ...»
Daisy was “by far the most popular of all the young girls in Louisville. She dressed in white and had a little white roadster and all day long the telephone rang in her house and excited young officers from Camp Taylor demanded the privilege of monopolizing her that night…” (79). Daisy seems unattainable, an image rather than a real woman.
E.S. Bakalian; email@example.com 17
Chapter VI pages 103-118
In Chapter VI Nick tells the reader things about Gatsby which he learned much later from Gatsby himself. The yachtsman Dan Cody gave the 17-year-old Gatsby the opportunity to change his entire life and life‟s purpose. The first thing he changed was his name, and then he boarded Cody‟s yacht and began to build a dream of and for himself.
Does Gatsby create himself? Is this possible? (Yes Gatsby created an image to emulate, and he spent his young life finding a way to live this life.) What does Dan Cody and his yacht represent to Gatsby? (“All the beauty and glamour in the world” – in short, everything Gatsby wanted to have (106).) Tom and Daisy Buchanan attend Gatsby‟s next party. The evening had a “peculiar quality of oppressiveness” to it, and Nick attributes this to Tom‟s presence (110). Gatsby and Daisy sneak away to Nick‟s home for a private half-hour, with Nick serving as the lookout. Tom finds a “common but pretty” girl with whom to flirt, and deserts his wife at dinnertime (112).
Does Daisy enjoy herself at the party? What does she think of it? (Daisy is at first enraptured by the party and then is dismayed by it. The party “offended her – and inarguably, because it wasn‟t a gesture but an emotion” (114). Daisy is uncomfortable around people who are not of her social set, people who do not play by the rules of the society in which she lives.
Throughout the party Gatsby‟s whole focus is on Daisy. Once the guest room lights are turned out, Gatsby turns to Nick and announces: “She didn‟t like it” (116). For the past five years he has worked to please her, building his palace just for her and now that she has seen it, he craves her approval. Gatsby does not seem to grasp that Daisy is a married woman with a separate life from his; he complains that she is “far away” from him (116).
Why is Gatsby so concerned that Daisy didn‟t like the party? What does Gatsby want? (Gatsby wants Daisy to be a part of his life – to step right in as if the past five years had not happened.) E.S. Bakalian; firstname.lastname@example.org 18 The past is gone, yet Gatsby does not believe it. He is determined to “fix everything just the way it was before,” and “recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy” (117). What is Gatsby trying to do? Can this feat be accomplished? (Gatsby wants to recall the past, and continue his romance with Daisy. No one can turn back the hands of Time, but Gatsby does not believe it.) Gatsby tells Nick of the first time he kissed Daisy. In this one kiss lays all his hope for
He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. … At his lips‟ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete (117).
Chapter VII pages 119-153 With Daisy back in his life Gatsby makes several adjustments to accommodate her. He no longer throws parties: he read the “disapproval in …[Daisy‟s] eyes,” and ceases to light up his house for strangers. Gatsby tells Nick that he fired all his servants because Daisy visits him in the afternoons, and he doesn‟t want any gossip.
It is the hottest day of the summer when Nick and Gatsby join Jordan Baker and the Buchanans for lunch at the Buchanans‟ home. While Tom is making drinks Daisy impulsively gets out of her chair and kisses Gatsby, telling him that she loves him.
Daisy‟s daughter enters the room, led by her nurse, and she greets Nick and Gatsby.
Gatsby seems shocked to realize that the child truly exists. Why is the presence of Daisy‟s daughter so shocking to him? (Gatsby does not quite believe that Daisy has another life that does not include him. Her daughter is the product of this fact.
Furthermore, Gatsby wants to recall the past, and the very presence of the Buchanan girl makes this impossible. Pammy Buchanan represents the present and the future.) During lunch Tom becomes aware that Daisy and Gatsby are lovers; he is completely “astounded” (125). Fitzgerald describes this moment of awakening as if Tom had “just recognized…[Daisy] as someone he knew a long time ago” (125). What does he mean by this? (Tom has taken Daisy for granted and to find that someone else loves her, has some sort of claim upon her, shocks him. Perhaps this shock reminds him that he had to compete to win Daisy‟s hand in marriage. Now it seems that he will have to compete again.) At Daisy‟s suggestion the party goes into New York City. Gatsby and Daisy drive Tom‟s car, and Tom drives Gatsby‟s car with Nick and Jordan as passengers. Tom stops his car at Wilson‟s garage, and Wilson, whose “face was green,” tells Tom he is sick over some news he has heard (129). He says he needs “money pretty bad,” and tells Tom that he and his wife “want to go west” (130). The news startles Tom, and as Nick listens intently he realizes that Wilson has just “discovered that Myrtle had some sort of life apart from him in another world and the shock had made him physically sick. I stared at him and E.S. Bakalian; email@example.com 20 then at Tom, who had made a parallel discovery less than an hour before…” (130-31).
Tom begins to panic – “his wife and his mistress, until an hour ago secure and inviolate, were slipping precipitately from his control” (131). As they drive away Nick sees Myrtle peering out of a window, her face full of jealous terror, as she stares at Jordan Baker, whom she perceives is Tom‟s wife.
Both Wilson and Tom have just learned that their wives‟ are having affairs with other men. The news seems to affect Wilson differently than Tom. Explain. (Wilson is physically sick, while Tom is in shock. Tom realizes that Nick and Jordan knew about Daisy and Gatsby‟s affair, and he prepares to confront Gatsby; he will be nobody‟s fool. Wilson does not know which way to turn, while Tom will tackle the situation straight on.) At the cocktail party in the Plaza Hotel, Tom begins his attack on Gatsby. He forces Gatsby to say when he attended Oxford, and Gatsby‟s answer, that it was “an opportunity they gave to some of the officers after the Armistice,” satisfies everyone (136).
When Nick hears Gatsby confirm that he attended Oxford, he “had one of those renewals of complete faith in…[Gatsby] that …[he had] experienced before” (136).
What does Nick mean when he says he had a “renewal in complete faith” in Gatsby?
(Suddenly Gatsby‟s story rings true – he did go to Oxford. Nick very much wants to believe in Gatsby and he is happy when he learns that he has told the truth.) Tom presses on with his questions, and brings the real issue out into the forefront: “What kind of a row are you trying to cause in my house anyhow?” (136). Daisy tries to interrupt and stop the argument from escalating, but Gatsby tells Tom that Daisy does not
“She loves me. … She never loved you, do you hear? …She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake, but in her heart she never loved anyone except me!” (137).
The fight for Daisy escalates, but as Daisy realizes “at last what she was doing,” her resolve collapses and she cries out “Oh, you want too much!” to Gatsby (139).
E.S. Bakalian; firstname.lastname@example.org 21 Why does Daisy tell Gatsby he “wants too much”? Why does she back down when she is so close to walking out on Tom? (“Too much” is asking her to say she never loved Tom, to leave him and her comfortable life. She backs down for she never intended to leave Tom. She never wanted this confrontation, she “never, all along, intended doing anything at all” about her affair with Gatsby (139).) Tom grabs control of the argument by verbally attacking Gatsby‟s character, telling him that he knows about his bootlegging activities, and calling him “a common swindler” (140). The attack is too much for Gatsby. For a moment an expression appears on his face “as if he had „killed a man‟,” but it passes just as quickly (142). Gatsby “talks excitedly to Daisy, denying everything…, but with every word she was drawing further and further into herself,” eventually begging Tom to take her home (142).
Of Gatsby‟s defeat Fitzgerald writes: “…only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room” (142). Read the sentence again and note that although no dialogue is recounted, we know exactly what Fitzgerald is describing. Explain what it means to say “only the dead dream fought on.” (Gatsby is fighting a losing battle. His dream of having Daisy is over, but he will not accept it, and he won‟t stop fighting for her.) Tom has succeeded in ending the affair between Daisy and Gatsby. Does he also destroy Gatsby? How? (Yes he does. Tom attacks the fiber of Gatsby – „Jay Gatsby,‟ the character Gatsby created. Gatsby thinks he is a member of Daisy‟s social set, because he has the wealth, but Tom lets Gatsby know he is not accepted. Tom correctly calls Gatsby a bootlegger, and seems to know that he is a gambler, too.
Gatsby cannot refute Tom‟s attacks, he cannot fight back when his character is under attack, and he loses the leg he stands on. He begins to falter, and in that brief moment, Daisy slips away from him.) Tom instructs Gatsby to drive Daisy home, saying that Gatsby “won‟t annoy you. I think he realizes that his presumptuous little flirtation is over” (142). Daisy and Gatsby leave in Gatsby‟s car, and Tom, Jordan and Nick follow in Tom‟s vehicle. En route home E.S. Bakalian; email@example.com 22 Tom, Nick and Jordan see a commotion outside Wilson‟s garage and they stop the car.
They see Myrtle Wilson‟s body wrapped in a blanket, and piece together the news that she was instantly killed by a “big, yellow car,” which didn‟t even stop (147). Tom realizes “the death car” is Gatsby‟s, and he seizes upon the moment to tell Wilson that the yellow car he drove up in earlier was not his (144).
Tom talks sternly to Wilson, confirming for him that the car which hit Myrtle was a yellow car. Is Tom being merely helpful? Is Tom a friend of Wilson‟s? (No, Tom is not Wilson‟s friend, he is no man‟s friend. He looks out for himself only. He wants Wilson to know that although he was driving the yellow car earlier that day, it is not his car -- Myrtle certainly thought it was Tom‟s car. By ensuring that the blame for the accident and death goes to Gatsby, he is also ensuring that the blame will not go to him. He also wants to lead Wilson away from suspecting him as Myrtle‟s lover. He simply does not want to be involved in the death, even though he already is.) On the ride home Tom cries, and calls Gatsby a “God Damn coward” for not stopping his car (149). Why is Tom crying? (He is crying because Myrtle is dead, but not because he loves her. He cries for himself – he realizes that another one of his “sprees” has ended in disaster. He may be concerned that this one will also make the papers, and that Daisy will learn of it in full.) Tom drives Nick and Jordan to his home, and invites them in to eat. Nick declines, but Jordan lingers on the porch and points out that “it‟s only half past nine” as she tries to convince Nick to come inside (150). Nick is upset by Jordan‟s invitation.
Why? What does her statement say about her? (Jordan has displayed callous behavior throughout the novel, but her reaction to Myrtle‟s death – that it‟s time to eat dinner – strikes Nick as especially coldhearted, and he is thoroughly disgusted.
Jordan is incapable of feeling compassion for another human being, and Nick cannot in good conscience associate with her any longer. Their love affair officially ends days later, but it is this night that triggers the beginning of the end for Nick.) As Nick waits for a taxi outside the Buchanan home, Gatsby steps out of the bushes.
He asks Nick if there was “any trouble on the road,” and Nick guesses that it was Daisy, not Gatsby, who was driving the car when it struck Myrtle (150). Why doesn‟t Daisy stop the car when she hits Myrtle? (She is probably momentarily shocked that E.S. Bakalian; firstname.lastname@example.org 23 she hit a person, but then she is probably able to put it out of her mind. Daisy does not have the capacity to think about anyone but herself. Indeed, she is not concerned with anyone or anything unless it pertains to herself and her comfort. She and Tom move on, as they are wont to do – they leave, and let others worry about the mess they leave in their wake. Their actions are both selfish and cowardly.) Gatsby‟s plan is to wait outside Daisy‟s home all night to protect her from Tom‟s temper (152). Nick peers in the window, and sees Daisy and Tom eating “a plate of cold fried chicken,” talking intently, and looking as if “they were conspiring together” (152-53). Does Daisy need protecting? (No, she and Tom are “conspiring together,” planning their next step.) Are the Buchanans affected by Myrtle‟s death? (No they are not affected by or upset about her death. They are only concerned with themselves, and how they might be connected to the “trouble on the road” (150).
Does Nick think Daisy has any intention of leaving Tom? (No, Nick knows that Daisy will never leave Tom or her comfortable life for Gatsby or for anyone else.) E.S. Bakalian; email@example.com 24
Chapter VIII pages 154-170
At dawn the day after the car accident Nick advises Gatsby to go away, knowing that his car will be traced by the police. But Gatsby will not go.