Free Study Guide-The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald-Book Notes |
Tom soon shows up at Gatsby’s again -- this time for one of Gatsby’s famous parties and with his wife Daisy. He is uncomfortable from the moment of his entry. His arrogant eyes survey the crowd and establish that he does not know a soul in the “menagerie” of party-goers. Tom is aloof and miserable amongst these West Eggers. He is successful, however, in finding a woman to pursue, but is still anxious to leave. When he finally persuades Daisy to depart, he openly laughs at Gatsby in front of Daisy, questioning the source of his wealth. Tom says he plans to find out who Gatsby really is and what he does, an ironic foreshadowing of the fact that soon Tom discovers that what Gatsby does is to have an affair with his wife Daisy.
Another contrast in this chapter is the difference in this party and the first one that Nick attended at Gatsby’s. Unlike the sense of overall gaiety at the first gathering, there is a quality of oppressiveness, an air of unpleasantness and harshness, about this one. Nick attributes the difference to Tom’s brooding presence and also to the fact that Daisy is observing and judging the gathering. Gatsby is aware of her reactions to the party and moans to Nick that she did not like it at all. In truth, the difference now is that Gatsby’s dream is beginning to shatter. The real Daisy does not fit properly into Gatsby’s world or the society of West Egg. He was really much happier when Daisy was the perfect dream across the bay. As long as Gatsby dreamed about her, he had perfect (although deluded) vision and pure purpose. Now the dream is being destroyed by the reality.
The chapter is also filled with ironies. Tom chases another woman at the party, and yet is upset that Daisy runs around by herself too much and has become acquainted with Gatsby in the process. He also harshly criticizes the guests and behavior at Gatsby’s party, neither of which is as bizarre as the guests and behavior at the previous party at Myrtle’s apartment. Daisy, who seems no longer concerned about Tom’s infidelity and who offers him a pencil to write down the addresses of the women that he meets at the party, is worried about Gatsby finding an “authentically radiant young girl,” as if Daisy recognizes that she herself is not authentic. Gatsby senses that Daisy does not like the party, but the parties and the whole illusion of his life has been created for Daisy. The final irony is Gatsby’s belief that he can recapture the past, that he can “fix” everything with Daisy through his wealth. As he talks, however, he paces amid the discarded fruit rinds and crushed flowers from the party, proof that the past is history and cannot be changed, just like the crushed flowers cannot be brought back to life. The party is over, and only the residue is left behind; Gatsby’s dream is soon to be over as well, leaving only a similar residue.
At the end of the chapter, Nick gives another flashback into Gatsby’s past. It is a description of the first time Gatsby kissed Daisy, which is synonymous with the tangible beginning of his dream world. For five years Gatsby’s dream has expanded, but remained pure and spiritual, tied to an illusion of what Daisy is. Now the dream is disintegrating into flesh and blood, and Gatsby, without the dream, really has nothing. As Nick reflects on the sad state of affairs for his neighbor, he also thinks about the sad state of affairs of Americans in the 1920’s, who have lost the dream but continue the party.
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. 09 May 2017