Chapter six leads from chapter five in which Gatsby’s dream of being reunited with Daisy has been realised. The previous chapter was the pinnacle of Gatsby’s dream and from that point the dream unravels. This chapter is significant as it highlights the fallacy of Gatsby’s dream. It also gives the reader an insight into Gatsby’s past so we can understand when he began to create his dream which is important for the reader to know as from this they can comprehend the gravity of the illusion in which Gatsby is trapped in no matter what is put in front of him.
This chapter also allows Gatsby himself to experience the monstrosity he has created through Daisy’s eyes at, what we later discover will be, his last party which is important as it then allows events to unfold from the point of Gatsby’s realisation further developing the plot. At the start of the chapter the reader is given an insight into Gatsby’s past through the use of retrospective narrative. It begins with a reminder that Gatsby is notorious as the first paragraphs lead to the revelation that he changed his name.
This demonstrates his lack of confidence in his identity which creates an unsettling feeling as he denies his roots. This already imposes an instability in his life. Through the use of contrast we see what Gatsby comes from and what he is aiming for from the opposing lifestyles of his family and that of Dan Cody. The ‘rowboat’ that Gatsby uses shows his humble and simple lifestyle whereas the ‘yacht’ of Dan Cody implies wealth. However this wealth is not pure, we can deduct this from the description of Dan Cody which fo...
cuses on money and material belongings.
Cody is called a ‘product’ which in itself represents materialism, this is reinforced by ‘silver fields’, ‘millionaire’ and ‘property’. The image of Gatsby rowing out to the yacht already suggests this is what he is yearning for. The detailed description of Gatsby’s clothes as a ‘torn green jersey and a pair of canvas pants’ clearly portray his lack of wealth reinfprced by Gatsby being a ‘clam-digger and salmon fisher’. The use of the word ‘imagination’ conveys the sense of his idyllic and unrealistic dream illustrated by the words ‘invent’ and ‘conception’.
It suggests Gatsby has an irrational imagination and has embellished his dream ever since he was younger. Nick says that ‘his imagination never really accepted [his parents] as his parents at all’ which highlights how perceptive Nick is. Gatsby denies his parents yet there are similarities between them; they measure success through material wealth as seen from chapter nine when his father comments on how well Gatsby has done for himself judging by his material possessions. This reference to material belongings develops throughout this chapter which enables Fitzgerald to depict it as corrupt.
The sense of an illusion is reinforced when Nick says ‘The truth was that Jay Gatsby… sprang from his platonic conception of himself’. The Greek philosopher Plato suggested that the material world in which we live consists merely of shadows of an ideal world which constitutes reality. Fitzgerald uses this philosophy to depic
Gatsby’s identity as an ideal conception of himself created and embellished from ‘the most grotesque and fantastic conceits’ haunting him in his sleep whilst an ‘ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain’.
In addition the language is highly associative with God, ‘the son of God’ and ‘His Father’s business’ evokes the image of the perfection of Christ and his act of total dedication. However, in the following phrase: ‘a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty’ introduces the technique of irony used to emphasise that Gatsby is dedicating himself to a materialistic beauty which only wealth can buy and is morally suspect. The comparaison of Gatsby to the son of God is appropriate in a novel illustrating a critique of a society lacking in religion and faith implying people replace religion with material desires.
The only faith Gatsby shows is towards his created identity as shown through Nick’s comment ‘to this conception he was faithful to the end’. However if this conception was devised when he was an immature seventeen year old then it shows Gatsby’s inability to live in the present. This is emphasised by the use of imagery of the clock ticking whilst he dreams suggesting time is going by and yet he is stuck in his fantasy world. Nick’s description of Gatsby’s early life reveals the sensitivity to status that spurs Gatsby on.
The idea of Gatsby being a God links to a section later in the chapter where we discover that Gatsby could ‘never romp again… like a God’ suggesting that he gave up a divine life perhaps originally for Daisy yet this has escalated into a materialistic devotion. This idea of materialism replacing religion presents a microcosm of 1920s America that Fitzgerald uses to criticise it. Gatsby’s humiliation at having to work as a janitor in a college contrasts with the promise that he experiences when he meets Dan Cody, who represents the attainment of everything that Gatsby wants.
Acutely aware of his poverty, the young Gatsby develops a powerful obsession with amassing wealth and status. Gatsby’s act of rechristening himself symbolizes his desire to jettison his lower-class identity and recast himself as the wealthy man he envisions. On meeting Dan Cody he presents a ready-made identity produced by the fantasies with which his imagination has fed his craving for a different kind of life. However Gatsby had no chance with Cody as his mentor as he had involvement in ‘savage violence’, ‘saloon[s]’ and ‘brothel[s]’ and yet this experience is described as an ‘appropriate education’.
With the sense of Gatsby’s dream in mind this section of the chapter leads to the exact embodiement of what Gatsby believes he wants: to belong to the upper class. This therefore allows the reader to discern whether Gatsby can ever belong to that class and whether he should want to belong to it. Fitzgerald continues to explore the theme of social class by illustrating the contempt with which the aristocratic East Eggers, Tom and the Sloanes, regard Gatsby. Through Nick’s narrative and the use of setting at Gatsby’s West Egg mansion, we discover how close Nick has become to Gatsby as he gets defensive and
- A Lesson Before Dying
- A Separate Peace
- Alice Walker
- All Quiet on The Western Front
- Chinua Achebe
- Crime and Punishment
- Ender'S Game
- Looking For Alaska
- My Antonia
- Nineteen Eighty-Four
- Of Mice And Men
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
- Pride And Prejudice
- Roald Dahl
- Salman Rushdie
- Sherman Alexie
- So Long a Letter
- Stone Angel
- The Alchemist
- The Book Thief
- The Chrysalids
- The Giver
- The Great Gatsby
- The Kite Runner
- The metamorphosis
- The Rainbow
- The Things They Carried
- Their Eyes Were Watching God
- Things Fall Apart
- Tom Sawyer
- Wide Sargasso Sea
- Year of Wonders