At the end of chapter 7, Nick observes Gatsby, Tom, and Daisy after the accident. What conclusions does he reach in The Great Gatsby?
At the end of chapter 7 in The Great Gatsby, Nick assesses the entire situation and is completely disgusted with Tom and Daisy, whom he believes are careless, selfish individuals. Nick views Jay Gatsby as a hopeless romantic with a dream that is well beyond his grasp. Despite Gatsby's shortcomings, Nick admires his pure intentions and remarkable ambition.
The day of the accident was a huge day for Nick. Not only did he witness horrific events, but he also had a shock to the system seeing the people in his life, whom he once admired and idealized, for who they really were. His reaction was disgust and anger toward each of the people he once saw under a different light. However, it is a sensation of disappointment and disdain that permeates most of his narrative.
First, Nick had to undergo the super awkward encounter between Tom, Gatsby, and Daisy at the Plaza, where all truths came out. He was there, with Jordan, essentially trapped in a hot room with one window and no way out.
During the heavy argument between the three components of the love triangle, Nick is angry and disgusted by Tom. This libertine, racist, misogynist man suddenly waxes moralist in the middle of one of the arguments, which causes Nick to want to laugh at his face, astonished at the hypocrisy of a man he once came to admire (if not for his personality, for his social status).
Angry as I was [...] I was tempted to laugh whenever he opened his mouth. The transition from libertine to prig was so complete.
During this meeting, he also learns the truth about Gatsby, as Tom laid it out for everyone to hear. Tom explained that Gatsby was nothing but a bootlegger who scammed one of Tom's friends—a friend who had come to partake in the business due to a lack of money—and who went to jail as a result of his dealings.
During these disclosures, Nick had ebbs and flows in his trust in Gatsby, going back and forth and wondering what the truth was.
After this horrible meeting, Nick goes with Tom and Jordan back to West Egg. On the way over, he is met with a second horrid moment: Myrtle Wilson has been ran over by a car, which was described as Gatsby's.
Now, Nick witnesses how Tom reacts so nonchalantly (although he has no choice) at the death of his mistress. Moreover, he sees how Tom goes to the husband and tells him to "put himself together" as if it were so easy to do.
Shocked by the lack of value given to Myrtle's life, Nick is offered a taxi to go home, which he accepts because he was "sick of all of them" by now, including Jordan.
However, a third encounter seals the deal when he finds Gatsby hiding in the bushes. He learns that Daisy was driving the car, and that it was Daisy who killed Myrtle when the latter got on the road and the accident occurred.
Here, it is Gatsby who shocks Nick. Gatsby is 100% focused on Daisy's well-being and shows no care for the poor woman who was "ripped open" by Daisy's driving.
In Nick's words,
I disliked him so much by this time that I didn't find it necessary to tell him that he was wrong.
Finally, after Gatsby tells Nick that he is keeping an eye on Daisy's room to protect her from a potential attack from Tom, Nick enters Tom's house only to discover that it is "business as usual" in the Buchanan household.
A woman has been killed, the killer is someone they know, the affair between Gatsby and Daisy was uncovered, Gatsby's truth was exposed...and yet here are the Buchanans, too rich to be bothered with mundane people or nuisances, sitting at table and talking to one another, albeit with a degree of graveness, as if nothing had occurred.
All of this was quite shocking to Nick. It is no wonder that, after all this "grotesque reality" as he describes it at the beginning of chapter 8, he could not sleep at all that night.
Hence, the conclusions are that he deeply disliked Tom for being a heartless hypocrite, that he was sick of the group as a whole, that he deeply disliked Gatsby to the point of not even caring about his opinion, and that the Buchanans are quite the shocking pair, going on as usual even after someone has been killed. He called this reality "grotesque," and we can safely argue that this day, which was his birthday and he didn't even remember, changed his perspective on life forever.
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Following Myrtle's tragic death, Nick returns to the Buchanan estate and no longer desires to be in their presence. Nick mentions that he feels sick and just wants to be left alone. Nick proceeds to dismiss Jordan Baker and illustrates his negative feelings toward Tom and Daisy by saying,
I'd had enough of all of them for one day and suddenly that included Jordan too.
After refusing to wait inside the house, Nick walks down the driveway, where he runs into Jay Gatsby who is hiding in the bushes. Gatsby proceeds to inform Nick that Daisy was driving when she struck Myrtle but mentions that he is willing to take the blame. Gatsby also tells Nick that he is keeping an eye on Daisy's room as a precaution to make sure Tom will not harm her.
Nick then walks up to the house and sees Tom and Daisy casually sitting across from each other. He mentions,
They weren’t happy, and neither of them had touched the chicken or the ale—and yet they weren’t unhappy either. There was an unmistakable air of natural intimacy about the picture and anybody would have said that they were conspiring together.
Before Nick leaves, he encourages Gatsby to head home. Nick is clearly disgusted with Tom, Daisy, and Jordan but sympathizes with Gatsby, whose dream is once again out of reach. In chapter 8, Nick elaborates on his feelings toward the Buchanans by telling Gatsby,
They’re a rotten crowd ... You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.
Overall, Nick concludes that Tom and Daisy are self-centered, careless individuals, who are only concerned about themselves. In contrast, Nick has an affinity for Jay Gatsby and recognizes him as a genuine person whose ambition and romantic passion are admirable and inspiring.
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After all of the chaos created in Chapter 7, climaxing with the accident that kills Myrtle, the end of Chapter 7 is quite calm. Nick discovers Gatsby standing outside of the Buchanan house; Gatsby tells Nick, "'I’m just going to wait here and see if he tries to bother her about that unpleasantness this afternoon. She’s locked herself into her room, and if he tries any brutality she’s going to turn the light out and on again.'" And while Nick originally does not think that Tom would ever harm Daisy more than the mental abuse of cheating on her, he has a moment of doubt, so he decides to look in on them and report back to Gatsby. What he sees tells him that Gatsby is "watching over nothing":
Daisy and Tom were sitting opposite each other at the kitchen table, with a plate of cold fried chicken between them, and two bottles of ale. He was talking intently across the table at her, and in his earnestness his hand had fallen upon and covered her own. Once in a while she looked up at him and nodded in agreement.
They weren’t happy, and neither of them had touched the chicken or the ale — and yet they weren’t unhappy either. There was an unmistakable air of natural intimacy about the picture, and anybody would have said that they were conspiring together.
That last line is especially telling, as Nick can see that Tom and Daisy are in this together. It does not matter that Daisy was driving; they are going to lay the blame on Gatsby and move on, leading Nick to conclude at the end of Chapter 9: "they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. . . ." In a way, Daisy and Tom are perfect for each other.
For Gatsby, he is left dead, with not even the whisp of the dream.
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