This last stretch with Gatsby was pretty stressful. I now have an intense cold, and I'm not saying it's Fitzy's fault . . . but I'm fairly certain it's Fitzy's fault.
Poor Gatsby (how many times am I going to say that before I'm done with this book?). He finally has Daisy in his house, where he can show her how fancy he is. He even flaunts his very full closet of metrosexual attire, which brings her to tears.
"'They're such beautiful shirts,' she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. 'It makes me sad because I've never seen such---such beautiful shirts before.'" (p. 92)Because who DOESN'T cry in the presence of pretty clothes?
|Any excuse. Any excuse at all.|
But before he met her, Jay Gatsby (aka James Gatz) couldn't think of anything but breaking into the "universe of ineffable gaudiness" (p. 99; meaning, he wanted to be rich, yo). He shunned his parents in favor of seeking his fortune. He became contemptuous of women, "of young virgins because they were ignorant, of the others because they were hysterical about things which in his overwhelming self-absorption he took for granted" (p. 98). Basically, he was earning his degree in douche-baggery.
Despite ALMOST inheriting $25,000 from a new friend, he hadn't made his fortune yet when he first met Daisy. He didn't STOP pursuing wealth (her parents would never let her marry a poor officer), but I think he started pursuing it more selflessly. She became his entire reason for attaining The Dream, which explains why he's so fixated on her and so determined to turn the clock on their relationship back 5 years, to the day they met. He demands a do-over.
Then Nick says/narrates something infuriatingly cryptic: "I was reminded of something—an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I had heard somewhere a long time ago. For a moment a phrase tried to take shape in my mouth and my lips parted like a dumb man's, as though there was more struggling upon them than a wisp of startled air. But they made no sound, and what I had almost remembered was uncommunicable forever" (p. 111).
This BETTER NOT be uncommunicable forever.
Now that Daisy has sashayed back into Gatsby's life, he once again makes some life changes. He puts an end to the lavish parties (because she doesn't like them) and fires all his servants (because I don't know why). All that's left is for Daisy to give Tom the old heave-ho.
Then, on a scorching hot day at the end of summer, it all goes to hell. Gatsby and Nick go over to the Buchanan household for an incredibly awkward lunch. I'm not sure what the goal of this gathering was (maybe Daisy and Gatsby were ready to wave their love flag under Tom's nose), but I think part of the reason was that Daisy wanted to show Gatsby her daughter. She parades her out for just a moment, as if to say, "Remember this small human I birthed?" Apparently, Gatsby needed the reality check: "Afterward, he kept looking at the child in surprise. I don't think he had ever really believed in its existence before" (p. 117).
Once they're all seated at the table, Gatsby and Daisy do their very worst impression of two people who don't care about each other. Tom isn't the shiniest coin in the piggy bank, but it takes him exactly 5 minutes to ascertain what's going on between them . . . and he doesn't like it one bit.
He doesn't call them out right away, but when the party moves into a stifling suite at the Plaza Hotel, Tom hoists himself onto his self-righteous soapbox.
"I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife. Well, if that's the idea you can count me out. . . . . Nowadays people begin by sneering at family life and family institutions, and next they'll throw everything overboard and have intermarriage between black and white." (p. 130)WHAT is the world coming to?
But, no matter, because Daisy is leaving Tom. And Gatsby gets a little overconfident and decides to add that she never loved Tom in the first place. Right, Daisy? RIGHT, DAISY?
|Crickets. Get it?|
Thus ends the most uncomfortable social gathering in the history of ever. And Nick tells us "that unfamiliar yet recognizable look was back again in Gatsby's face" (p. 134). NICK! What did I tell you about saying things that aren't things? Maybe you should rethink your future as a narrator.