The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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How is chapter 8 of The Great Gatsby "foreboding"? Cite textual evidence from pages 147–148.

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Chapter 8 has a foreboding atmosphere from the start. The chapter begins with Nick unable to sleep; he tosses and turns in bed all night, plagued with nightmares. He even gets out of bed at dawn when he hears a taxi approach Gatsby's house because he is afraid something bad is going to happen to Gatsby. It turns out that his intuition has flared too early, since Gatsby is forlorn but otherwise alright.

When Gatsby and Nick search through the empty rooms of Gatsby's mansion for cigarettes, little details create more tension, even before anything tragic has occurred. In the dark, they grope about the walls for light switches. Nick trips and lands "upon the keys of a ghostly piano," the adjective "ghostly" already evoking death and elegy, as though signaling that Gatsby's material success no longer has the shine it once did. The rooms are "musty" from being shut up too long. Even when the men find some cigarettes, they are described as "stale." On the whole, Gatsby's mansion, so chic in earlier scenes, is already turning into a haunted house.

This deathly atmosphere continues as Gatsby relays to Nick the story of how he met and fell in love with Daisy during the Great War. This creates even more of a Gothic feeling, since Gothic stories tend to focus on the how the past haunts the present and how the dead haunt the living. All of these details, along with the Gothic imagery, create this foreboding atmosphere, setting the stage for the tragic finale.

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