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Summary of how Fitzgerald presents the story of The Great Gatsby in chapter 7.

Updated on September 15, 2012

Chapter seven of The Great Gatsby is like the peak of a roller coaster; so far the book has been setting the scene and steadily building up the emotion and suspense. The first sentence of the chapter indicates that this ride has reached its peak, and that from now on it will all go downhill. The beginning of the end!

‘and, as obscurely as it had begun, his career as Trimalchio was over.’ Trimalchio, the namesake of the books original title, was a social upstart from the Satyricon of Petronius , famed for his outlandish, extravagant parties where he would attempt to gain favour and status with his guests by lavishing his wealth upon them. The character of Gatsby is almost identical with his glamorous parties and lavish lifestyle. Like Trimalchio, Gatsby’s way of life had a purpose, not for enjoyment he lived this way; he lived like this to gain acceptance amongst the upper classes (old money) to aide his quest to gain Daisy’s love.

The parties over, Gatsby has his girl; there is no longer any need to please the rest of society. He is happy and content; but the language used to describe this evokes a feeling of foreboding, there is a sense of death in the words. ‘The lights in the house failed to go on’, light generally representing life within a literary context. Through the use of implicit and explicit messages the impression is given that the chapter is leading to the end ‘The next day was broiling, almost the last’. So many meanings can be read into the use of language within this book, particularly in chapter seven; the use of the word broiling alongside ‘almost the last’ provides an image of Hell, the cooking heat and the end depicts a picture of fire pits and lava. Religious images which tie in with ‘the eyes of Eckleberg’ watching over the sinners from his vantage point of the Valley of Ashes, situated ‘about half-way between West Egg and New York’, watching and waiting in readiness to reclaim more sinful souls.

Taken on a different level, ‘broiling , ‘hot’, ‘simmering’ and ‘combustion’ also characterises the tension in the air, tension resulting from the illicit activities between Gatsby and Daisy, from not having the freedom to completely be together, and more noticeably sexual tension. ‘Hot!...Hot!...Hot!...’ the triple repetition for a more compounded impact on the reader, and three times to symbolise the love triangle Daisy, Gatsby and Tom find themselves in.

Temperature features regularly throughout the chapter; each mention is always followed quite closely by a reference to its polar opposite. Prior to the use of the literary device of pathetic fallacy regarding the abnormally hot weather, ‘Hot!...Hot!...Hot!...’ there is the introduction of the cold ‘unfamiliar butler’ at Gatsby’s mansion. The fact that he is one of Wolfshiem’s, dodgy acquaintances, possibly an illegal immigrant, provides the sense that Gatsby’s criminal life may be about to catch up with him, and that his past misdeeds are nowhere near as 'hot’ as the fiery situation he has got himself into with Daisy.

Daisy desperately wants Gatsby; she dreams of the Gatsby she had as a girl. She also wants to keep her current life with Tom, he provides security and status and as Daisy reveals in the hotel suite, ‘I did love him once’. Gatsby injects Daisy’s dull monotonous life with pleasure, fun and excitement again. Jordon believes that this is something Daisy should pursue. ‘And Daisy ought to have something in her life,’ comments Jordan, nonetheless she does not agree with this sort of behaviour, she is just a firm believer in equality and Tom has had his fun, for years and left Daisy to become increasingly depressed and more unhappy. Jordon quite clearly states her thoughts about infidelity and promiscuity, ‘What a low, vulgar girl!’ she exclaims when Daisy tries to get her to kiss Nick.

Nick and Jordon seem to be tiring of the whole charade, of Tom’s arrogance ‘”Listen, Tom. If you’re such a snob, why did you invite him to lunch?” demanded Jordon crossly.’ Bored of Daisy’s ‘indiscreet voice,’ speaking to Gatsby in such an obvious manner ‘she had told him that she loved him, and Tom Buchannan saw.’ ‘These careless people’.

Gatsby & Daisy

Jay Gatsby & Daisy Buchannan
Jay Gatsby & Daisy Buchannan | Source

The chapter clearly examples this carelessness, and also the temporary shift in behaviours and positions as a result of various revelations; such as Myrtle’s affair and Daisy and Gatsby’s affair. Tom loses his hold on Myrtle and Daisy; he can’t even get Daisy to ride in the same car as him even when he has his arm around her. Daisy is now in charge, doing as she pleases and it shocks Tom to see her so happy, ‘as if he had just recognised her as someone he knew a long time ago.’ This realisation leaves Tom anxious and nervous, his wife was happy but not with him. ‘His temper cracked a little,’ Tom is renowned for his temper, and the resulting actions, but this is the first time he has had to struggle with his nerves, ‘his hand, trembling with his effort at self-control.’ Changing the light in which Tom is seen, plays with the readers preconceived idea of Tom, of the bullish, thoughtless, selfish brute of a man, now he is shown to be caring and concerned and as someone to be pitied.

This shift in position with Tom and Daisy, leaving Tom anxious about the future of his relationship with his wife amplifies his careless disregard of his former lover Myrtle. Tom’s focus has shifted solely onto saving his marriage and so his relationship with Myrtle must be forsaken, he has even gone so far as to definitively cut all ties with her husband’s garage, ‘I won’t sell you the car at all’, ergo cutting all ties with Myrtle. Tom clearly states ‘…I’m under no obligations to you at all’ although said to Wilson it can be heard that it was directed towards Myrtle. Quite coldly he tosses Myrtle aside with no concern as to her feelings or the fact that he was destroying her hopes and dreams. The shift is apparent with all the characters in this book, revealing new facets to characters that have now become relatively familiar.

This chapter is pivotal, there are many truths and revelations within it and the prominence of it is indicated by the sheer size of this chapter compared to all the others in the book. Chapter seven is by far the longest chapter in the book, and even though it brims with intricate detail the words flow at such a great speed when read that it gives the text the impression of being rushed. It seems Nick is now bored, rushing through this unesscesarry backstory; he wants to get to the more juicy, tragic part of the story. The impact of such a sense of importance is also evident through an awareness of some form of urgency, through Nick and Jordon’s boredom, amid Tom’s nervous remarks ‘ We can’t argue about it here,’ Tom said impatiently. There is a lot strained emotion within this chapter; the quantity of short sentences, particularly in the form of direct speech really compounds the jittery, agitated mood.

A strained atmosphere, such as the one experienced in The Great Gatsby particularly in chapter seven, cannot be sustained for any period of time. The whole way of life lived within the book cannot be sustained for long, ‘The American Dream’, a continual search for material happiness that can never be fulfilled. Symbolised by the desperate search of Myrtle for her lover Tom, heading towards the ‘light’ from the pitch black night, the poor woman tragically comes to her demise in her bid for freedom as the car mows her down; ironically driven by the wife of her lover, her saviour. This is a prime example of how mankind misplaces his hopes, faith and trust, again with religious undertones, the text appears almost fable- like.

The book revolves around dreams, ‘The American Dream’, the continual search for success and money, throughout the text there are regular references to the colours red, white and blue; which symbolises the American flag, this teamed with the repetition of the colour green and yellow (particularly in relation to colours of cars) ‘It was a yellow car,’ he said, ‘big yellow car. New.’ and ‘green leather conservatory’, a description of the interior of Gatsby’s car. Green and yellow symbolic of money, yellow for gold and coinage and green being the dollar bills. Explicitly stating in chapter seven – money and riches, fast living brings death and decay. Dreams do not bring the desired happiness; ultimately the attainment of dreams leaves a void. The result, Gatsby exactly where started, ‘standing in the moonlight’ only this time has no green light to focus on, he is ‘watching over nothing’.


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    • sahbam16 profile image


      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is a fantastic Hub, especially because of the detailed analysis. Great job! Voted up!


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