Study Guide for The Great GatsbyBy F. Scott Fitzgerald
Chapter 7 (119-154)
At the outset of this chapter, which portrays the catastrophe that ends Gatsby and Daisy's relationship, Nick declares that "[Gatsby's] career as Trimalchio was over". (Trimalchio was a character from a Roman poem entitled The Satyricon by Petronius (excerpt) who typified the parvenu or newly rich freedman who tries and fails to gain acceptance within Roman noble society by lavishing money on hedonistic banquets.)
Why is Gatsby's party over?
Party#6: Lunch at Daisy and Tom's (120-127)
What is the weather like on this August afternoon?
Notice how Fitzgerald recalls the details of the earlier dinner at the Buchanan's in this scene: The women, once again, are prostrate from the heat and lying on the couch complaining of boredom, Tom, once again, is arguing with a Wilson on the phone; Daisy's daughter is getting ignored; and Nick is sitting there uneasily bearing witness to it all. Only the presence of Gatsby indicates a change.
What is Fitzgerald up to?
After lunch, how does Daisy bring into the open for Tom the fact that she and Gatsby are having an affair? Is she trying to break up her marriage or is this payback time for Tom? (125)
While they are waiting in the driveway, Nick wonders about just what is so fascinating about Daisy's 'indiscreet voice', and Gatsby says, "Her voice is full of money," (127) and Tom agrees. What do you make of Gatsby's insight? Has he realized that his hopes are empty, or is he complimenting Daisy?
The Drive to Town (127- 132)
While Tom drives Nick and Jordan in Gatsby's car, stewing over the fact that he now knows that Daisy is cheating on him, he pulls into Wilson's gas station. We discover that Wilson has just found out that Myrtle has been cheating on him, but he does not know with whom.
How is Wilson behaving differently from Tom? (They are both in similar situations.)
Nick realizes that Myrtle is watching the scene from her second floor bedroom, beneath the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. For whom has she mistaken Jordan? (131)
What is Fitzgerald up to? Is Fate at work? Is the coming catastrophe inevitable?
Stifling heat, mint juleps, and patter about Blocks
Biloxi from Biloxi ensues. Finally, Tom confronts Gatsby
about his supposed Oxford background and then openly confronts him
about the affair, in his own inimitable fashion:
What is it that Tom finds most offensive about Daisy's infidelity?
Gatsby responds by declaring that Daisy has never loved him throughout their whole marriage. How does Daisy respond? Whom does she really love?
Does Gatsby understand when Daisy tells him:
Tom then plays his ace: he tells Daisy about how Gatsby has made his money. What is Gatsby's business with Meyer Wolfsheim? How does Daisy take the news? (142)
The Death of Myrtle (143-153)
How is Myrtle killed? Who runs over her? Why did she run
out into the world? Note the description of her dead body:
Despite the objections of his editor, Fitzgerald has insisted that this horrifying detail be included in the final draft of the novel. Why?
Paragraph: Unpack the meaning of the action's catastrophe. Consider the details: the heat, the reprise of details from earlier in the novel, Gatsby and Tom's confrontation, and the mistaken identities which lead to Myrtle's death. All the strands of the novel come together. Was the action fated to end in this way? How does the scene relate to Fitzgerald's overall intention in the novel?