Chapter 8 of the Great Gatsby Essay
Chapter 8 of the Great Gatsby
In the beginning of the chapter, we are made aware of Nick’s discomfort and anxious attitude regarding Gatsby and what is to become of him, suggesting that he should get away for a week, but naturally, Gatsby refuses. He then goes onto describe the way that he and Daisy had first met and their relationship that had ensued, before Gatsby proposes he and Nick use the swimming pool for the first and last time that summer; Nick has work to attend, and so declines his offer to leave, but not before paying him the only compliment he gave to him. Towards the middle of the chapter, we are given an insight into George’s life just after Myrtle’s death, who realised he had nobody to go to and was desperate to know who had done such a thing to his wife, eventually coming to the conclusion that it must have been Jay Gatsby. We then meet the climax at the end of the chapter as Wilson not only murders Gatsby, while he waited for Daisy’s phone call, but also himself. Fitzgerald writes the chapter, as in the entire novel, through the persona of Nick, in a first-hand narrative.
This aids in the telling of the entire story, in this chapter in particular, because Nick’s true devotion and loyalty to Gatsby as a friend, is evident in the respectful way and non-descript depiction of Gatsby’s death- “The chauffeur… heard the shots”. In comparison to the description of Myrtle’s gruesome death in the previous chapter; “her left breast was swinging loose like a flap”; it can be argued that Nick’s self- conscious narrative may actually be quite biased, choosing to withhold information from the reader and, contradicting the way he claimed not to be judgemental in chapter 1, by deciding which characters deserve to be respected and free to die with their dignity intact, despite each of their individual mistakes. Despite Fitzgerald writing the chapter with aspects of tragedy, I do not believe the form of the chapter can be described as being so, but rather, as being tragic. For example, Gatsby’s hamartia is recognised completely in this chapter as his love and adoration of Daisy that hadn’t been returned, the way he takes the blame for Myrtle’s death without any sort of known gratitude, and his relentless trust and faith in her and the fact that he believes she is the key to his happiness and success in his life, eventually lead to his untimely demise while he still held onto the hope that she would return his feelings for her.
This helps to tell the story because it is representative of society at the time, allowing Fitzgerald to portray it as having provided a barrier between classes which could never be crossed, as Gatsby had attempted and was expecting of Daisy. An additional feature that makes the chapter tragic would be the catharsis experienced by the reader through Nick’s realisation of Gatsby’s mistakes; this is because the reader desperately hopes that Gatsby himself will somehow come to the same conclusions that seem so obvious to everybody else- “They’re a rotten crowd… You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together” Throughout the chapter, Fitzgerald constantly makes connections between weather and the emotions within the novel, giving the impression that the setting of will somehow foreshadow and represent the outcomes later in the chapter. An example of this would be, “the night had made a sharp difference in the weather and there was an autumn flavour in the air”.
This use of pathetic fallacy could be used to foreshadow the “sharp” pain that Gatsby, will later feel as he is shot; James Gatz represented by the “weather” in general as he had typically been a driving force in the events throughout the novel, having lots of influence over mood and behaviour. Autumn has many connotations, some of which could be the falling of leaves, which symbolises the decay of Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship, which has not yet become totally obvious to Gatsby at this point in the chapter. Meanwhile Gatsby stops his gardener from emptying the pool that he hadn’t yet used, In the same way that he is attached to the hope of making Daisy love him the way she used to, he insists on swimming in the pool as though it were still the summer that had just passed, seemingly overnight in contrast to the hottest day of the year in the last chapter, showing his incapability of forgetting the past, constantly trying to hold onto the memories they shared and to relive their time together.
Regardless of the fact that Gatsby’s past had been shared with us in chapter 6, in a relative time scale to the novel, Fitzgerald writes from Nick’s perspective, telling the reader that it is at this point in Gatsby’s life, that he had actually shared it with Nick. Nick describes the reasoning for this as being because “’Jay Gatsby’ had broken up like glass against Tom’s hard malice”. Irony is used in this to tell the story as, throughout the novel, Gatsby had been an enigma to all and now, suddenly he is seen as transparent and easy to see through. Also, the use of the word “glass” gives the impression that, as glass, though it may seem strong on the outside, is weak and easily shattered, the pieces of which can never be put back together perfectly, Gatsby is finally portrayed as a human with real emotion, showing that he is easily broken, foreshadowing his murder at the end of the chapter.
The author uses Doctor T.J Eckleburg’s eyes to represent the increasing meaninglessness of religion over time, particularly in the 1930s as, in the materialistic world between West Egg and East Egg nobody had turned to religion but instead, thrive off of materialism and wealth, and so Eckleburg portrays the eyes of God and his omniscient nature- “God sees everything”- which been left and forgotten by the wealthy, and fallen victim to the valley of ashes, yet still embodies a moral standard of which all are expected to follow, no matter their stature within society. As a result of this, the story is able to advance through the chapter as Wilson believes that by seeing the crime committed, God demands revenge and so, he leaves in search for the owner of the car who killed his wife.