Everything The Great Gatsby has been building toward intersects in this very important chapter. All of the paths, once loosely related at best, now converge — forcefully and fatally. The turbulence of Chapter 7 gives clear indications of what Gatsby, Daisy, Tom, and even Nick are about. Unfortunately, for three of the four, the revelations are complementary. As the weather of the novel becomes increasingly hotter and more oppressive, Fitzgerald finally gets to the heart of the love triangle between Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom, but lets it speak poorly of all the participants. Nick, alone, comes out of this chapter looking stronger. Like all the other characters, he has been tested in this chapter, but much to his credit, he grows and develops in a positive way.
This chapter put Gatsby and Tom side-by-side. While this happened briefly in Chapter 6, here the two men take each other on, head-to-head. Tom can no longer deny that Gatsby and Daisy are having an affair (specifics about that affair are, however, sketchy. The only item of significance is that the affair is an extension of Gatsby's dream and it leads him to the destruction of the dream and of himself). Within hours of learning of his wife's indiscretions, Tom learns that in addition to perhaps losing his wife, he is most certainly losing his mistress. This double loss enrages Tom and he strikes violently at the man he perceives as being responsible — a man who is, in his eyes, a low-class hustler, a bootlegger who will never be able to distance himself from his past. In Tom's elitist mind, Gatsby is common and therefore his existence is meaningless: He comes from ordinary roots and can never change that.
By chapter's end, Gatsby has been fully exposed. Gone are the mysterious rumors and the self-made myth. Stripped of all his illusions, he stands outside Daisy's house, vulnerable and tragically alone. Although he begins the chapter with his customary Gatsby dignity, when he comes up against Tom's hardness, the illusion of Jay Gatsby comes tumbling down. In all of Gatsby's years of dreaming, he never once suspected that he might not have his way (as is the nature of dreaming; one never dreams of having people stand in the way, preventing fantasies from coming true). As soon as Gatsby has to contend with people whose parts he can't script, he's at a loss. Instead, he will try, at all costs, to hold on to his dream. It is, in a sense, the only thing that is real to him. Without it (sadly), he is no longer able to define himself; therefore, the dream must be maintained at all costs (even when the dream has passed its prime). The best example of Gatsby's last-chance efforts to save his dream come after he tries to get Daisy to admit she never loved Tom. When she admits to having actually loved Tom, Gatsby, unwilling to give up, pushes the situation forward, abruptly telling Tom "Daisy's leaving you." Tom laughs off this declaration, dismissing the whole party and ordering Daisy and Gatsby to head back in Gatsby's car. By following Tom's command, the lovers, in effect, admit defeat and Gatsby's dream disintegrates.
In addition to getting the real scoop on Gatsby, one also sees the real Daisy. She has relatively few lines, but what she utters, and later what she does, changes her persona forever. Whereas in the previous chapters she has come off as shy and sweet, a little vapid, but decidedly charming, here, there is a bit more depth to her — but what lies beneath the surface isn't necessarily good. Daisy's reasons for having an affair with Gatsby aren't at all the same reasons he is in love with her. By boldly kissing Gatsby when Tom leaves the room early in Chapter 7, then declaring "You know I love you" loudly enough for all to hear (much to Jordan and Nick's discomfiture) Daisy has, in effect, shown that to her, loving Gatsby is a game whose sole purpose is to try and get back at Tom. She's playing the game on her own terms, trying to prove something to her husband...
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