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Analysis of Chapter VII

 

            F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, gives readers an exclusive look into the corrupted lives of a group of young people in America during the 1920s.  This decade was otherwise known as "The Roaring Twenties" to portray the excessive persona of the period and the breaking down of old societal ideas.  The Great Gatsby takes place on Long Island, New York.  It is narrated by Nick Carraway who is the only character we meet in this story who has substance in his character and places it before style.  Jay Gatsby is Nick's excessively rich neighbor whom we discover has attempted to recapture his life as it was five years ago, in 1917.  This continued dream would include Daisy Buchanan, who happens to have married Tom Buchanan in the past five years Daisy last saw Gatsby.  Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom's lack of substance and overabundance of style finally begin to fade and collapse in Chapter Seven as a result of being forced to come to terms with their illusions of life versus reality.

            At the beginning of Chapter Seven each of these three characters are firmly planted in their view of their current situations, all of which are corrupt due to their lack substance.  Gatsby and Daisy were having an affair by this time.  At this point in time, Gatsby believes that Daisy will soon leave Tom to be with him.  In the back of Gatsby's mind, he also believes that she has never stopped loving him and never truly loved Tom.  In his mind, she was forced into the marriage for wealth or was deceived into loving Tom by Tom himself.  In Tom's point of view, Gatsby is a suspiciously wealthy friend of Nick's.  However, he has become so suspicious of Gatsby's mysterious profession that he has begun to investigate it secretly.  He realizes during the group's luncheon that Gatsby and his wife are having an affair.  He realized this from the way they blatantly look at one another in a loving fashion.  He becomes outraged but in the back of his mind still believes that his affair with Myrtle Wilson is perfectly acceptable.  He also finds out on the way to the Plaza Hotel that Mr. Wilson, the gas station owner, has discovered his wife's affair but not whom she had been conducting the affair with.  Daisy believes that she may still love Gatsby, even after the past five years have gone by without them corresponding until the present.  She believes this solely because Gatsby showers her with his undying love.  During the beginning of the chapter, none of the characters have really changed their beliefs yet. 

            During the middle of the chapter, Daisy, Tom, Gatsby, Jordan (a friend of Daisy's and Nick's girlfriend), and Nick pay for a suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, where Tom confronts Gatsby.  Tom's confrontation begins the decline of Gatsby and Daisy's illusions of their lives.  Tom's concrete information on Gatsby's illegal bootlegging of alcohol, pushes Daisy closer to Tom and away from Gatsby.  Gatsby realizes now what Tom realized earlier, that his mysterious past and current occupation stands between his current bachelor status and his dream of reliving the past.  By Tom's argument and research on Gatsby's background, Gatsby must give up his dream of being with Daisy as they were in 1917.  At this point, Daisy recognizes that she has always and still does love Tom.  She also grasps how foolish it was to pursue Gatsby.  Because of this comprehension of reality on both Daisy and Gatsby's parts, Tom felt comfortable with sending the two back to the Buchanan's house together.  By the end of the Plaza Hotel scene, Daisy knows that her short-lived affair with Gatsby is over and Gatsby realizes that his dream of recreating 1917 has little chance of surviving.

            By the end of the chapter Daisy, Tom, and Gatsby's unrealistic dreams have been shattered by very vivid and realistic events during the course of the night.  Myrtle's sudden death forces Tom to accept the end of their affair.  He handles it well so that Wilson will not know that he was Myrtle's lover and because he knows that Daisy is no longer in danger of leaving him.  Daisy was waiting at home for Tom because he was able to prove his love for her, as Gatsby was unable to do.  First Tom showed her that Gatsby was trying to be something he was not and get away with it, while trying to make her believe that he loved her.  Secondly, when Nick spots Tom and Daisy later that night at home talking together, we can assume that they were reconciling their recent mistakes and differences.  We can assume this because in the consequential chapter, we learn through Nick that they left East Egg the next day with little notice, to relieve themselves of the recent events.  Daisy has understood by this time that she had an affair with Gatsby in order to make her husband jealous and thereby get even with him for his blatant affair with Myrtle Wilson.  Gatsby however still loves Daisy and although he knows that she will not leave Tom for him, he still wishes that he could live in his dream with her.  He demonstrates this by standing outside her bedroom window waiting for her to turn off her light and go to bed safely as he does not trust Tom.   He does this because in reality, he really fears and feels anger towards Tom because Tom was the only one of the group to call his bluff about his past and to know that Gatsby's dream would never materialize by doing so.  By the end of Chapter Seven these three characters have completely lost their dreams and illusions of their lives.

            Chapter Seven could be considered a climax in the story because everything that takes place after it is considered falling action due to the characters loss of dreams.  Tom loses his dream-like affair with Myrtle and is forced to come to terms with his wife's affair.  Daisy learns that she was having an affair with Gatsby not because she loved him more than Tom, but only to retaliate against Tom's own affair with Myrtle.  Gatsby's dream of recreating 1917 with Daisy once again is shattered by Tom.  All of their affairs were products of their lack of substance in themselves.  They were all so concerned with appearances and keeping up with society's expectations that they did not notice what they were doing exactly meant and who they were affecting.  By the end of Chapter Seven, Tom, Gatsby, and Daisy have abandoned their unrealistic dreams and moved on towards substance and the real world they face every day.

 

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