At the end of chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby, Gatsby stands alone, looking at Daisy’s house. Where else in the novel does he do this? How is this different?

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Gatsby can see Daisy’s dock from his house, which was a primary attraction for him in purchasing it in the first place. The scene at the end of chapter 7 where Gatsby stands alone, looking at Daisy’s house, is just after Daisy has run Myrtle down, killing her instantaneously. This scene is both sad and ominous. Gatsby is concerned about Daisy and wants to watch her house until he can see her bedroom light go out, which will reassure him that she is home safely and trying to get some sleep. Gatsby acknowledges to Nick that Daisy was driving the car when it hit Myrtle, but he says that he will take the blame.

In chapter 5, Gatsby has cajoled Nick into inviting Daisy for tea. After tea, he invites Nick and Daisy up to his house to give them a tour. He wants to show Daisy how much he has in order to impress her. He wants her to know of the opulence of his house, his hydroplane, his clothing, and, in fact, all of his impressive material possessions, such as his “toilet set of pure dull gold.” They plan to go out to the water to look at the Sound, but it begins to rain. The three of them stand together looking at the Sound.

"If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay," said Gatsby. "You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock."

Daisy put her arm through his abruptly but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said.

The two scenes are very different. Gatsby can watch Daisy's dock and house, which keeps her near to him in his mind. He could imagine Daisy in her home and feel how close he was to her. In chapter 5, he watches her home, or the green light at the end of her dock, with Daisy and Nick. She is standing right next to him, watching her dock with him.

Nick says of Gatsby, “he was consumed with wonder at her presence. He had been full of the idea so long, dreamed it right through to the end, waited with his teeth set, so to speak, at an inconceivable pitch of intensity.” In chapter 5, Gatsby feels that he is on his way to achieving his goal of attaining Daisy. Conversely, in chapter 7, Gatsby's life is about to be turned upside down and ended, largely because of his obsession with Daisy.

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At the end of Chapter VII, Tom, Daisy, Jordan, and Nick have returned to the Buchanan's house in East Egg after Myrtle Wilson had been killed on the road. Nick has been invited inside, but has refused. As he is walking down the drive to wait for a taxi, he encounters Gatsby who seems unconcerned about Myrtle's death but terribly concerned about Daisy's welfare. He tells Nick that he will wait to make sure that Tom does not "bother" Daisy and that he will wait and watch all night, if necessary. Nick recalls:

He put his hands in his coat pockets and turned back eagerly to his scrutiny of the house, as though my presence marred the sacredness of the vigil. So I walked away and left him standing there in the moonlight--watching over nothing.

The scene is reminiscent of the first time Nick had seen Gatsby. The moment is narrated at the end of Chapter I when Nick sits on his lawn and observes a figure on the adjacent lawn:

. . . fifty feet away a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbor's mansion and was standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the silver pepper of stars . . . he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward--and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished . . . .

The green light is the light at the end of the Buchanan's dock across the bay; as in the passage from Chapter VII, Gatsby stands in the dark and looks toward Daisy's house.

The difference in the two scenes is one of timing and purpose. When Gatsby looks toward Daisy's house the first time, he longs to meet her again, to have her back in his life; it is a time of romantic possibility for Gatsby. He watches her house to feel close to her.

When he stands vigil and watches the Buchanan house in Chapter VII, his romance with Daisy is over, although he cannot acknowledge it. While he stands alone in the darkness, Tom and Daisy are inside, sharing a cold supper. Before leaving Gatsby there to keep watch, Nick had observed through the kitchen window "an unmistakable air of natural intimacy" between Daisy and her husband. Gatsby's dream will never be realized; romantic possibilities are ended. He watches over Daisy's house to protect her from Tom, not realizing that Tom and Daisy are together and will remain together. As Nick said, Gatsby watches over nothing.

 

 

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