Great Gatsby Chapter 5 notes

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Great Gatsby Chapter Five

Why might Ch. 5 be described as a pivotal chapter?

  • Ch. 5 reveals just how long Gatsby has been dreaming about rekindling his romance with Daisy – 5 years.  Before this point we have been gradually getting to know Gatsby not fully sure of who he is and from here the reader follows his downward spiral as ‘his count of enchanted diminished by one’.
  • This chapter also makes Gatsby’s dream a reality and it is clear that because the chasm between the dream and the reality has become so great that the dream, his idyllic, perfect image of Daisy is doomed to fail and disappoint him.

The past and the passage of time is a dominant force in this novel.  When is it brought up in this chapter? Think about symbolism here.

  • ‘ “It’s too late!” ‘ Gatsby exclaims.  This is highly significant to his desperate attempts to repeat the past, to conjure up the Daisy he knew five years ago.
  • ‘…the clock took this moment to tilt dangerously…whereupon he turned and caught it with trembling fingers and set it back in place’  This symbolises/represents Gatsby’s vain attempts to stop the passage of time in order to retrieve the past.  You should also note that it is a ‘defunct mantelpiece clock’.  It does not work.  It has stopped at one moment in time just as Gatsby’s life has stopped.  He is trapped in the past, fuelled only by his over-elaborate dream – the clock is trapped at the precise moment it stopped.

  • ‘the automatic quality of Gatsby’s answer set us all back at least another minute”
  • ‘ghostly laughter’
  • ‘prehistoric marshes’
  • ‘No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man can store up in his ghostly heart.’
  • Here ‘freshness’ and ‘ghostly’ are juxtaposed to highlight the division between the past and the present – a division which Gatsby cannot discern or distinguish between.
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Describe how Gatsby and Daisy respond to one another throughout their entire meeting.

  • ‘An hour later the front door opened nervously, and Gatsby, in a white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold-coloured tie, hurried in.’  
  • Firstly, we notice the colour of his clothes – silver and gold are closely associated with money and wealth – he wants to show Daisy how wealthy he is now.  However, if we picture how he would look, he will come across very ostentatious, lavish, garish and ...

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