The Great Gatsby: A Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Questions 10-11
By: Anish Thomas, Allen Thomas, Joji Jacob, Abigail Attande, Jesse Young
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Explain Fitzgerald's use of weather in the novel as a symbol for tone or mood. Be sure to explain WHAT tone or mood is established with details of the imagery used. | | Explain the importance of the following quote to the theme of dreams and disillusionment in the novel:

external image number-10.jpgExplain Fitzgerald's use of weather in the novel as a symbol for tone or mood. Be sure to explain WHAT tone or mood is established with details of the imagery used.

external image ss-100706-heatWaves-01.jpg In studying F Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, it is important to note that image typically inspired by the phrase "weather symbolism"--that of a sudden, often catastrophic and violent storm raging over the countryside to mirror a character's increasingly fanatical emotional state--is seldom, if ever, found throughout the novel. Readers should therefore avoid the trap of blindly applying "quintessential" weather analysis to Fitzgerald's masterpiece by attaining a thorough understanding of the subtlety with which he utilizes weather symbolism. This subtlety, and thus Fitzgerald's deviation from the typical trends in weather symbolism, is demonstrated in the following examples:
  1. Heat establishing tone/mood:
    • At many points throughout the novel, Fitzgerald uses extreme temperature, particularly sweltering heat, to reflect the intense emotions, foreboding evil, and discomfort and discontentment in general. The mood established by this weather symbolism is therefore one saturated with emotion, distress, and anxiety: the characters’ excess of emotion mirrors the air’s excess of heat.
    • Fitzgerald establishes this mood by taking advantage of the reader’s keen sensitivity to weather-related words in his description of setting:
Something was up. And yet I couldn’t believe that they would choose this occasion for a scene—especially for the rather harrowing scene that Gatsby had outlined in the garden. The next day was broiling, almost the last, certainly the warmest, of the summer.” (114)
      •  This passage is found just before Gatsby’s last meeting with Tom conflict reaches climaxes with an intense argument between the two men.
      • For readers, the words “broiling heat” and “warmest day of the summer” conjure images of sweaty labor, of discomfort, strain, tension, and a general atmosphere of angst predicting a major, tension-reliving catastrophe.
      • This broiling heat is analogous to the squeal of a valve turned too tightly—like the squeal, the heat necessitates a dramatic outburst to relieve the tension. Readers are therefore rendered anxious, and the mood is rendered emotional, dramatic, and teeming with anxiety.
      • With this description placed aptly before Gatsby’s meeting with his lover’s husband, the reader appropriately expects an exhilarating encounter, exciting our curiosity, passions, and contributing to an overall tone of discontentment with the status quo.
      • This tension and discontentment contributes to the wider theme of a rambunctious desire for change, prevalent throughout the 1920s.
      • When all is said and done, the weather greatly influences the overall mood and tone of the novel, especially before the novel’s climax.

The heat symbolism attains new depth once Fitzgerald states that Tom and Daisy were married in the same “broiling heat” of June just a few years earlier:
Still—I was married in the middle of June; Daisy remembered, ‘Louisville in June! Somebody fainted. Who was it fainted, Tom? (127)

      • By pairing this with the previous description of broiling summer heat, Fitzgerald connects Tom and Daisy’s wedding to the aforementioned mood of intense anxiety, tension, and discomfort. The marriage is likened to other tasks that would be carried out in blistering heat, such as back-breaking labor.
      • This mood, established entirely by a simple description of weather, predicts disaster in Daisy’s wedding with Tom. One of the central conflicts of the novel, therefore—that being Daisy’s struggle with Tom and Jay—is aptly represented by the climate.

2. We are also able to see the use of weather as a means to portray tone and mood within Chapter 5 of the novel. In this chapter, Jay Gatsby arranges a meeting with Daisy, his lover from several years back. Because of World War I during the time, they were forced to separate and have not had contact since.
“The day agreed upon was pouring rain” (83)
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    • This rain illustrates the extent of Jay Gatsby’s nervousness for being able to meet his lover, Daisy, once again.
We are able to see that as the time for the meeting draws closer, the rain beings to intensify, and the weather conditions around begin to get worse.
    • Every thing that Jay has been doing since he got out of the war, was done in order to get the attention of Daisy, so we can infer that being able to have the attention of Daisy after so long, would create a certain level of discomfort for him. This discomfort corresponds to the conditions outside at the time.
“Aware of the loud beating of my own heart, I pulled the door against the increasing rain” (86)
    • As stated before, as the time of the meeting draws closer and closer, the level of discomfort and nervousness increase for Jay and Nick. With this, the weather begins to worsen.
“After half an hour, the sun shone again….”(88)
    • The sun shining indicates that there must have been an extreme change in the atmosphere within the house during the meeting. Since it is the sun that is shining, we can assume that this extreme change is most likely for the better.
“But there was a change in Gatsby that was simply confounding. He literally glowed; without a word or gesture of exultation a new well-being radiated from him and filled the little room.” (89)
    • This shows that change that occurs within Gatsby by the end of the meeting with Daisy.
    • Just as the rain corresponds with the discomfort of Gatsby, the sun represents the level of happiness and conformability he has towards the end of his reunion.
3. The correlation between weather and Daisy's emotions:
“When he realized what I was talking about, that there were twinkle-bells of sunshine in the room, he smiled like a weather man, like an ecstatic patron of recurrent light, and repeated the news to Daisy…it stopped raining." (94)
    • The quote “twinkle bells of sunshine in the room” is not to be taken literally, but rather, exemplifies something out of reach, something dreamy. We can refer back to Gatsby’s goal of winning Daisy over by impressing her with lavish parties, by showing her his closet and basking in his economic success. His hope was thathoping it would capture her attention and lure her into his grasp. From the beginning of the novel, however, this goal of winning Daisy over was more of an unreachable dream for Gatsby than it was a tangible reality. In the beginning of their relationship, Daisy was rich and Gatsby was not from wealthy background: he had just returned home from participation in The Great War and was busy trying to work his way up, trying to accumulate wealth to impress Daisy. The novel focuses on this aspect of Gatsby’s acquired wealth as an attempt at acquiring Daisy-who’s out of his reach as to the twinkle bells symbolize this concept of out of reach.
    • Daisy responds with gratitude but her throat is described as “full of aching, grieving beauty, told only of her unexpected joy”-pg.89 In response to Jay and narrator.
    • Rain represents gloomy, dark, and ugly setting. Uncertainty, and “overcast” of several of the characters, including Daisy and her moment of depression.
    • After rain passes and sun comes back out “unexpected joy” comes over Daisy-sign of possibly better days and beauty of life through the struggles.
    • The repetition of the end of the rain is assurance that “it’s okay now, it’s over. Every thing is going to be alright

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Explain the importance of the following quote to the theme of dreams and disillusionment in the novel:

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further...And one fine morning-" (180)

  • The theme of dreams and disillusionment is prevalent throughout this novel.
  • The above quote expresses Jay Gatsby's optimism; he is excited about the future, ready for what it holds for him.external image The_Great_Gatsby_by_asianpride7625.png
  • Gatsby's hardworking mentality is also shown in this quote; he is always ready to do what he had to in order to achieve his goal.
  • Gatsby's dream is to become wealthy so he can marry Daisy.
  • All his actions are fueled by this one desire
  • Gatsby's plan.
    • work hard
    • get rich
    • marry Daisy
  • He was so confident that would work that he lost sight of reality. He did not factor in Daisy's decision. He made her wait too long so she reacted accordingly and married Tom.
  • His goal was filled with disillusionment.
  • Dream= Daisy
  • Disillutionment= Gatsby's belief that Daisy would wait for him.
Theme of dreams and disillusionment is prevalent in novel because the time period the novel was written was a time of great confusion in the country due to the depression that engulfed the whole nation. Both physcologically and ideologically people were ununited because they couldn't find any common ground to relate. This was a time when Americans began to hold a myraid of different beliefs because of the challeneges that rose against the traditional form of government and religion:
  • Rise of Marxism and communism began to challenege the traditional government in the nation. People were divided among these ideological lines.
  • New discoveries in science and technology began to challenge traditional religion. Discoveries in genetics and astronomy began to put doubts in people's mind about the existence of an all-powerfull almight God.
  • People were disillusioned to believe that all Americans held the same belief but in reality there were no beliefs that can unite them any longer. This forced people to believe that they we no longer in control of their future and that they no longer had the capacity to determine their own lives.
Therefore, Jay Gatsby challenges this notion when he believes in the green light. This green light was his go ahead signal, just as in a traffic light, that illustrates that he can control his life.
  • Upon seeing the green light that shone of the dock, Gatsby believed that he can take his own desires, as in his desire to be with Daisy, and make it a reality in his life.
  • Therefore, this desire to be with daisy was the dream or disillusionment that receded before Gatsby year by year as the qoute suggests, "the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us".
  • At first it seemed impossible to Gatsby to attain this, "It eluded us then, but that's no matter-" (189). This is why he was doubtful and nervous about meeting her. (thus, is the reason it was rainining.)
  • Then he realized that if he is committed to pursue this dream and puts in effort to gain her acceptance then one day he will attain this dream that seemed impossible to him at first- “tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further… and one fine morning-”(189)

    • Therefore, Gatsby challenges the notion of the impossibility of attaining this disillusionment or dream by believing that he can someday achieve his desire of being with Daisy. Whereas, the country as a whole believed that it was impossible to attain dreams in this time period due to the economic condition the nation was in.

    • The green light in this novel represents a “go ahead” signal for Gatsby to pursue his happiness or his desire to be with Daisy.

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