At the end of the day of Myrtle’s death, Nick is unable to sleep as his mind cannot comprehend everything that happened on that day. Before dawn, he rises restlessly and goes to visit Gatsby at his mansion. Gatsby tells him that he waited at Daisy’s until four o’clock in the morning and that nothing happened. He was surprised to see Daisy did not come to see him and Tom wasn’t violent towards Daisy. Nick suggests that Gatsby forget about Daisy and leave Long Island, but Gatsby refuses to consider leaving Daisy behind. Gatsby then goes into detail and tells Nick about his relationship with Daisy in Louisville in 1917.
He says that he loved her for her youth and vitality, and idolised her social position, beauty, wealth, and popularity. He adds that she was the first girl he ever loved and that out of insecurity to win her over, he lied about his background. He recalls when he and Daisy made love for the first time, and he felt as though he had married her.
She promised to wait for him when he left for the war, but then she married Tom, whose social position was solid and who had the approval of her parents (unlike Gatsby who was never able to win them over). Upon Gatsby’s return, Daisy was on her honeymoon.
Gatsby’s gardener interrupts Gatsby that he plans to drain the pool. The previous day was the hottest of the summer, but with autumn looming the gardener worries that falling leaves will clog the pool drains. Gatsby tells the gardener to wait an extra day, as he has never his own pool, he says, and wants to go for his first swim.
Nick realises he’s very late for work. Nick feels heartbroken for Gatsby and his stubborn refusal to accept the obvious truth. He finally says goodbye to Gatsby. Nick turns back and shouts ‘You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.’
Nick goes to his office, but he feels too distracted and mentally preoccupied with Gatsby to work, and even refuses to meet Jordan Baker for a date. Nick for the first time opens up on his conversation with Michaelis. George Wilson stays up all night talking to Michaelis about Myrtle. He tells him that before Myrtle died, he told her that she could not hide her sin from the eyes of God.
The morning after Myrtle’s death, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, illuminated by the dawn became too much for Wilson. He believes they are the eyes of God and leaps to the conclusion that whoever was driving the car that killed Myrtle must have been her lover (which was incorrect). He decides that God demands revenge and leaves to track down the owner of the car. He looks for Tom, because he knows that Tom is familiar with the car’s owner as he saw Tom driving the exact car earlier in the day.
However, he knows that Tom could not have been the driver since Tom arrived after the accident in a different car with Nick and Jordan. Wilson filled with anger goes to Gatsby’s house, where he finds Gatsby lying on an air mattress in the pool, floating in the water and looking up at the sky (clearly still thinking of how to get Daisy back). Wilson shoots Gatsby, killing him instantly, he then panics and feels guilt and shoots himself (which kills him immediately also).
Nick distracted at work decides to call Gatsby, when Gatsby doesn’t answer he realises he must leave and go back to West Egg to speak with Gatsby. To his horror he finds Gatsby floating dead in his pool. Nick imagines Gatsby’s final thoughts, and pictures him disillusioned by the meaninglessness and emptiness of life without Daisy, realising he gave his whole life to end up with everything except the one thing he wanted.
Nick Carraway, a young man from Minnesota, moves to New York in the summer of 1922 to learn about the bond business. He rents a house in the West Egg district of Long Island, a wealthy but unfashionable area populated by the new rich, a group who have made their fortunes too recently to have established social connections and who are prone to garish displays of wealth. Nick’s next-door neighbour in West Egg is a mysterious man named Jay Gatsby, who lives in a gigantic Gothic mansion and throws extravagant parties every Saturday night.
Nick is unlike the other inhabitants of West Egg—he was educated at Yale and has social connections in East Egg, a fashionable area of Long Island home to the established upper class. Nick drives out to East Egg one evening for dinner with his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and her husband, Tom, an erstwhile classmate of Nick’s at Yale. Daisy and Tom introduce Nick to Jordan Baker, a beautiful, cynical young woman with whom Nick begins a romantic relationship. Nick also learns a bit about Daisy and Tom’s marriage: Jordan tells him that Tom has a lover, Myrtle Wilson, who lives in the valley of ashes, a grey industrial dumping ground between West Egg and New York City. Not long after this revelation, Nick travels to New York City with Tom and Myrtle. At a vulgar, gaudy party in the apartment that Tom keeps for the affair, Myrtle begins to taunt Tom about Daisy, and Tom responds by breaking her nose.
As the summer progresses, Nick eventually garners an invitation to one of Gatsby’s legendary parties. He encounters Jordan Baker at the party, and they meet Gatsby himself, a surprisingly young man who affects an English accent, has a remarkable smile, and calls everyone “old sport.” Gatsby asks to speak to Jordan alone, and, through Jordan, Nick later learns more about his mysterious neighbour. Gatsby tells Jordan that he knew Daisy in Louisville in 1917 and is deeply in love with her. He spends many nights staring at the green light at the end of her dock, across the bay from his mansion. Gatsby’s extravagant lifestyle and wild parties are simply an attempt to impress Daisy. Gatsby now wants Nick to arrange a reunion between himself and Daisy, but he is afraid that Daisy will refuse to see him if she knows that he still loves her. Nick invites Daisy to have tea at his house, without telling her that Gatsby will also be there. After an initially awkward reunion, Gatsby and Daisy re-establish their connection. Their love rekindled, they begin an affair.
After a short time, Tom grows increasingly suspicious of his wife’s relationship with Gatsby. At a luncheon at the Buchanans’ house, Gatsby stares at Daisy with such undisguised passion that Tom realizes Gatsby is in love with her. Though Tom is himself involved in an extramarital affair, he is deeply outraged by the thought that his wife could be unfaithful to him. He forces the group to drive into New York City, where he confronts Gatsby in a suite at the Plaza Hotel. Tom asserts that he and Daisy have a history that Gatsby could never understand, and he announces to his wife that Gatsby is a criminal—his fortune comes from bootlegging alcohol and other illegal activities. Daisy realizes that her allegiance is to Tom, and Tom contemptuously sends her back to East Egg with Gatsby, attempting to prove that Gatsby cannot hurt him.
When Nick, Jordan, and Tom drive through the valley of ashes, however, they discover that Gatsby’s car has struck and killed Myrtle, Tom’s lover. They rush back to Long Island, where Nick learns from Gatsby that Daisy was driving the car when it struck Myrtle, but that Gatsby intends to take the blame. The next day, Tom tells Myrtle’s husband, George, that Gatsby was the driver of the car. George, who has leapt to the conclusion that the driver of the car that killed Myrtle must have been her lover, finds Gatsby in the pool at his mansion and shoots him dead. He then fatally shoots himself.
Nick stages a small funeral for Gatsby, ends his relationship with Jordan, and moves back to the Midwest to escape the disgust he feels for the people surrounding Gatsby’s life and for the emptiness and moral decay of life among the wealthy on the East Coast. Nick reflects that just as Gatsby’s dream of Daisy was corrupted by money and dishonesty, the American dream of happiness and individualism has disintegrated into the mere pursuit of wealth. Though Gatsby’s power to transform his dreams into reality is what makes him ‘great,’ Nick reflects that the era of dreaming—both Gatsby’s dream and the American dream—is over.
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