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What is the literal and figurative meaning of "snapped out" and "accidental" in the...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:34 PM via web

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What is the literal and figurative meaning of "snapped out" and "accidental" in the following excerpt from The Great Gatsby, Chapter Seven:

They were gone, without a word, snapped out, made accidental, isolated, like ghosts even from our pity.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 26, 2013 at 1:40 AM (Answer #1)

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In the first chapter of The Great Gatsby, images of light are introduced with the sunshine of summer, The French windows of Daisy's house glowing with "reflected gold" from the sun, and t6he lighted four candles that flicker on the table in the soft wind. Daisy objects to these candles and "snapped them out with her fingers." This action foreshadows the extinguishing in Chapter Seven of Gatsby's dream of finally attaining Daisy.

For, after a heated argument with Tom, who has investigated Gatsby's past, Gatsby's dream of winning Daisy is dead:

But with every word she was drawing further and turther into herself, so he gave that up and only the dead dream fought on as the after noon slipped away, trying to touch was was no longer tangible....

With "magnanimous scorn," Tom sends his wife on,

"Go on. He won't annoy you. I think he realizes that his presumptuous little flirtation is over."

They were gone without a word, snapped out, made accidental, isolated like ghosts even from our pity.

Likewise, Mrytle's life will soon be "snapped out and made accidental" as Tom conspires with Daisy as they sit at the kitchen table on what she must say as Gatsby stands in the moonlight "watching over nothing."

The Buchanans plan to make Mrytle's killingappear to be a hit and run by Gatsby, the owner of the "yellow death machine." As "careless people," they can  easily "snap out" Gatsby's life and not feel badly because he was not one of them.

They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or whatever it was...

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