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Is weather used symbolically in "The Great Gatsby"?

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butterfinger296 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 1, 2008 at 8:10 AM via web

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Is weather used symbolically in "The Great Gatsby"?

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted February 1, 2008 at 11:00 AM (Answer #1)

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In the first chapter, Nick describes the leaves coming on the trees, the sun shining, and says that he had "...that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer."  A little later in that chapter, when he enters the Buchanan house for the first time, he describes the soft breeze causing the curtains to gently billow like pale flags.  The conviction that Nick speaks of and the favorable weather at the beginning of the summer and the beginning of the story symbolizes the promise that lies ahead.  Just like there was so much promise in Jay's life.  Jay had the talent and the drive to become whatever he wanted to become.  Toward the end of the story, in chapter 7, the heat is intense and so is the tension between the characters in the story.  When Tom, Daisy, Jordan, Nick, and Jay are in the suite at the Plaza hotel, Fitzgerald dwells on the description of the extreme heat.  Tension among the characters rises with the heat until the explosion occurs that carries Daisy out of the hotel and Jay following her.  In the next chapter, the day after Myrtle was killed, the gardener mentions emptying the pool soon before the leaves fall and clog the drain.  This hint of autumn and dying leaves comes just before Jay is shot and killed while in his pool.  The weather follows the action in the story.  There is freshness and possibility at the beginning, then things heat up and explode, finally, there is death.

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