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The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The Great Gatsby | Discussion Questions 21 - 30


In Chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby, what feeling does Fitzgerald create by opening in Jay Gatsby's darkened yard and closing with Gatsby "standing ... in the moonlight—watching over nothing"?

The opening and closing scenes of this chapter call to mind—and stand in contrast to—Gatsby's parties. Described as music-filled, brightly lit, festive atmospheres where people gathered and champagne flowed, these two dark, quiet scenes speak loudly of the change that has come to both East and West Egg, particularly around Gatsby. Through his imagery and words, the author creates a feeling of desolation.

In The Great Gatsby, what might be suggested by the difference between Jay Gatsby's car ("a rich cream color, bright with nickel") and Tom Buchanan's "blue coupe"?

The Buchanans' coupe and Jay Gatsby's car mirror their owners and the new-money/old-money stereotypes. The Buchanans' car, as described, suggests the tendency of old money to understate: one knows that the car is expensive but it's not showy. By contrast, Jay Gatsby's car is expensive and opulent; the color, size, shape, and details call attention to it—and are meant to do so.

In Chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby, how might the hot weather be interpreted when Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby are invited to the Buchanans on a "broiling" day?

The day that Nick and Gatsby are invited up to the Buchanans' house in Chapter 7 proves to be an extremely warm day. The heat can be seen as playing many roles in the events of that day: it is the compelling force behind the group's decision to drive into the city; it may be seen as a catalyst for the argumentative nature of the group once in the hotel; and, as such, it may be considered a cause of the flaring tempers that ultimately lead to the chaos of the return trip to Long Island. Even at a most basic level, the heat of the day can be seen as a foreshadowing of the incident to come: as the tension of the Gatsby/Daisy/Tom situation heats up, it sets off a chain reaction that ultimately leads to the deaths of Myrtle, George, and Gatsby.

In Chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby, a pivotal moment occurs back at the Buchanans' house on the night of the accident. What transpires between Jordan Baker and Nick Carraway?

Back in East Egg on the night of the accident, Nick decides to go home to West Egg rather than stay in the company of the Buchanans and Jordan any longer. Although Jordan would like him to stay, Nick is resolute. He recalls later that he had "had enough of all of them for one day and suddenly that included Jordan too." Although the moment was insignificant on one hand, it had great significance for Jordan and Nick. Nick felt that he did not want to be with Jordan any longer that night, and perhaps never again. Jordan could read much of Nick's feelings in his expression, and in his refusal to stay. Nick's decision and their brief conversation may have sealed the fate of their relationship.

On the night of the accident in The Great Gatsby, Chapter 7, what does Nick's leaving the Buchanans' house signify about his shifting feelings toward the elite and their lifestyle?

Nick Carraway's decision to be alone after everyone returns to Long Island the night of the accident is significant because it is a physical manifestation of him separating himself from the Easterners. Although his resolution to separate himself in a more permanent way is not yet solidified, the die seems to have been cast this night with his decision to not stay. Nick has been struggling with this conflict—his Midwestern values and lifestyle versus the Easterners' seeming lack of values and superficial lifestyle—for some time before this night.

In Chapter 8 of The Great Gatsby, how might Daisy's actions be interpreted when, during the night, "she came to the window, stood there ... and turned out the light"?

Daisy Buchanan's actions the night of the accident are, as always, focused on Daisy. Although she knows that Jay Gatsby is waiting in the darkness to be assured of her safety, she takes no action until four in the morning. On a deeper level, her behavior suggests the finality of her decision: in the hotel she had chosen Tom Buchanan over Gatsby; turning out the light seems to put closure on that decision. When looked at from this perspective, Daisy's turning out the light suggests finality to their relationship and, perhaps, foreshadows Gatsby's impending doom.

In The Great Gatsby, how does Gatsby giving Daisy "a sense ... that he was fully able to take care of her" align with the theme of superficiality versus truth?

This line touches on the theme of superficiality versus truth, as so much of this novel does. The significance of that theme in regard to this particular line is tremendous; it suggests that Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby's entire relationship is built on a lie. Gatsby had projected a persona built on some of the characteristics that he knew would be important to people in Daisy's crowd. Superficial as such characteristics might have seemed, they were significant to Daisy's family and, eventually, to her as well. None of Gatsby's promises had much truth to them when they met, and some of them still weren't true when the pair reconnected. That Gatsby wooed Daisy with these promises puts their entire relationship in question.

Light is significant in The Great Gatsby. Find a point where light is mentioned in Chapter 8, and consider what the imagery suggests or foreshadows.

The green light of Daisy Buchanan's dock, originally seen in Chapter 1, symbolizes for Jay Gatsby both the attainment of Daisy's love and the promise that having her in his life holds for him. In Chapter 8, which takes place the day after the accident, there is a sense of dimmed light throughout that suggests the waning of Gatsby's dream."It was dawn now on Long Island ... filling the house with gray turning, gold turning light," Nick reports. Perhaps because Gatsby himself still has hope (outwardly he professes to believe in his dream as fervently as before) there is not an absence of light. However, the light is not as brilliant or as radiant as elsewhere in the book.

In Chapter 8 of The Great Gatsby, why might Nick Carraway be annoyed by Jordan Baker's decision to leave Daisy Buchanan's house?

Nick is bothered by Jordan's seemingly hasty departure from the Buchanan home the day after the accident. Although he doesn't elaborate on the thinking behind his feelings, one could imagine that Nick thinks Jordan once again took the easy way out of a difficult situation. He may feel she chose what is best for her over the needs of others. In a sense, this situation is reminiscent of the time she left the convertible out overnight in the rain, and then lied about it. Both situations had the same resolution: whatever is best and easiest for Jordan.

In Chapter 8 of The Great Gatsby, what does Nick Carraway mean when he tells Gatsby: "They are a rotten crowd ... You're worth the whole damn bunch put together"?

Nick sees in Gatsby something more than what he sees in the others who run in their social circle on Long Island. Although the persona Gatsby has taken is built around some of what the East Egg and West Egg wealthy inhabitants value—money, power, popularity—there is something more to Jay Gatsby. However, much the passing of time and his inflated dreams have muted it. By the end of the book, Gatsby has paid the ultimate price for his dream—having been snared by the most self-centered motivations of the group he emulated. Only then, in meeting Gatsby's father and coming to know "James Gatz" through his father's eyes, does Nick discover Gatsby's naive earnestness. He realizes that Gatsby's earnestness, coupled with his personal drive and firm focus on his goals, made Gatsby both bound to succeed in, and liable to be crushed by, the group he aspired to become part of.

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