How does weather (hot, cold, rain) foreshadow events that are going to happen in the future in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The weather is often reflective of the emotional tone of the narrative in The Great Gatsby.

  • In Chapter One, Nick describes his..."familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer," and, in a sense it does as he is introduced to the wealthy Buchanans and Jay Gatsby. When Nick approaches the Buchanan mansion, "on a warm, windy evening," he meets Daisy and Tom Buchanan and Jordan Baker, people whose miens seem artificial. There is a breeze sweeping through the Buchanan mansion as Daisy and Jordan recline upon white couches, in poses that remind one of the Muses. As the evening progresses, Nick begins to be swept away by the breezes of wealth, and he is seduced by the life of the rich and the person of Jordan Baker. 
    After Nick returns home, he pulls into his garage and notices that "the wind had blown off," the illusion is gone. But, he notices Mr. Gatsby out on his lawn under the "silver pepper of the stars." He stares at the green light at the end of Daisy's pier.
  • In Chapter Four as Nick and Gatsby ride in his gorgeous car across the bridge to the city, "with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars," Nick exults in "the mystery and the beauty of the world."
  • In Chapter Five, it rains on the day that Gatsby reunites with Daisy, and their reunion is rather strained and tinged with a certain melancholy. As Nick leaves, Gatsby's shows a "faint doubt to the quality of his present happiness."
  • In Chapter Six, at Gatsby's party, Nick watches some of Gatsby's guests at the party and through "a pale thin ray of moonlight" between a director and his star, Nick notices the man stoop and kiss at the cheek of the actress, an act of little meaning, just as the beam of moonlight is temporal.
  • In Chapter Seven, when Gatsby confronts Tom with Daisy's love for him, it is the hottest day of the summer: the weather "was broiling" and the room "was large and stifling." And, as the tension rises, the descriptions of the heat reflect this tension:

From the ballroom beneath, muffled and suffocating chords were drifting up on hot waves of air.

  • Afterwards as they leave, Nick comments that "we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight."
  • Also in this chapter, Gatsby stands outside the Buchanan house, keeping vigil in the night to be sure that Tom does not hurt Daisy, but he is really "watching over nothing." The night signifies the end of Daisy's relationship with Gatsby.
  • In Chapter 8, there is an unreality to the dawn as the "grey turning, gold turning light" on a tree causes the shadow to make the "ghostly birds" sing among "blue leaves."
  • It is the beginning of autumn in this chapter and Gatsby decides to use the pool, perhaps the retain yet some of summer, stopping time and perhaps revitalizing his relationship with Daisy. But, Wilson "nod[s] into the twilight" and kills Gatsby.   



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The Great Gatsby

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