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In chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby, why does Fitzgerald emphasize the heat?

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britisback | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 20, 2008 at 1:30 PM via web

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In chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby, why does Fitzgerald emphasize the heat?

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renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 20, 2008 at 9:33 PM (Answer #1)

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The conditions of the heat and the effect on the train passengers are meant to foreshadow the coming events in the hotel room. Typically, intense heat causes emotions, such as anger and passion, to boil over. The passengers on the train have varying emotional reactions to the heat. Some are irritable, while one woman seems stunned and helpless. This foreshadows Tom and Gatsby's showdown, as well as Daisy's reaction to it.

The unbearable heat on the train causes tempers to flair and passions to rise, and this will be true later in the day, as well. Heat is often used to symbolize intense emotion, such as passion.

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 21, 2008 at 1:51 AM (Answer #2)

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The heat is also used to present contradictions.  The love that Gatsby is offering Daisy is a love of feeling and passion.  Gatsby is a character who feels deeply, as does Nick.  However, Daisy chooses a life with Tom that is lacking in active emotion.  It is cold, unfeeling, and uninspiring.  The descriptions of Daisy and Jordan in this chapter are that they appear 'cool'.  At the end of the novel, Daisy and Tom are enjoying cold fried chicken and bottles of ale.  These contrasting visions help to reinforce Fitzgerald's portrayal of the wealthy class.  He shows them to be without morals and without compassion.  That is why the 'cool' images are associated with that group.

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